PETALING JAYA: Nicol David faltered when it mattered most and, with it, the chance to confirm an early ticket to the semi-finals of the World Series Finals in Dubai.
The world No. 5 lost 7-11, 11-8, 7-11 to world No. 2 Laura Massaro of England in her second Group A match on Wednesday.
Having opened her campaign with a win over American world No. 8 Amanda Sobhy, the 32-year-old Nicol needed to beat Massaro to book her place in the next round.
Instead, Nicol will now have to beat Egyptian teenager Nouran Gohar to stay alive.
World No. 6 Nouran is already out of the running after suffering her second straight defeat – losing 11-8, 5-11, 7-11 to Sobhy.
Massaro, who has now beaten Nicol eight times in 34 meetings, is set to qualify for the semi-finals as Group A champion.
Against Nicol, it was Massaro who took control of the first set, winning it 11-7.
Nicol is not known to go down without a fight and that was exactly what she did in the next set, battling back from 4-6 down to take it 11-8.
In the decider, Nicol looked to be on her way to victory when she led 6-3. But Massaro showed the kind of steely determination that has taken her to No. 2 in the world by storming back to seal victory in 49 minutes.
“The best-of-three format is actually tougher because the intensity is higher and each rally counts. So, mentally you have to be really prepared,” said Massaro.
“In the third, all I was thinking of was that I didn’t want to play the next game knowing that I needed to do something in order to get through … so, I’m really happy with the result.”
In Group B, world champion Nour El Sherbini of Egypt bounced back from an opening day loss to thrash compatriot Omneya Abdel Kawy 11-4, 11-8 in just 15 minutes.
The world No. 1, who lost to compatriot Raneem El Welily on Tuesday, takes on French world No. 4 Camille Serme next. Both players need a win to progress to the semi-finals.
In the men’s event, England’s world No. 3 Nick Matthew bowed out after suffering his second straight Group A loss – a 10-12, 6-11 defeat to world No. 6 Mathieu Castagnet.
Group A: Mohamed El Shorbagy (Egy) bt Miguel Angel Rodriguez (Col) 11-8, 11-9; Mathieu Castagnet (Fra) bt Nick Matthew (Eng) 12-10, 11-6.
Group B: Simon Rosner (Ger) bt Omar Mosaad (Egy) 11-3, 11-7; Gregory Gaultier (Fra) bt Cameron Pilley (Aus) 11-3, 11-1
Group A: Laura Massaro (Eng) bt Nicol David (Mas) 11-7, 8-11, 11-7; Amanda Sobhy (US) bt Nouran Gohar (Egy) 8-11, 11-5, 11-7.
Group B: Raneem El Welily (Egy) bt Camille Serme (Fra) 9-11, 12-10, 11-9; Nour El Sherbini (Egy) bt Omneya Abdel Kawy (Egy) 11-4, 11-8.