Tough draw for Matthew as players get set for Qatar Classic

October 10, 2011 - 9:43:08 pm


Doha: World number one Nick Matthew of England has got a tough draw at the Qatar Classic tournament, the sixth event of the PSA World Series, which will take place at the Khalifa International Tennis and Squash Complex from October 14 to 21.

The PSA World Series, launched this year, features tournaments which have prize money of $115,000 and above. The events form a series throughout the year and it will produce eight players who go on to compete in the PSA World Series Finals.

Currently, world number two Ramy Ashour, who didn’t feature in this month US Open final, leads the points tally in the PSA World Series, over Matthew by just five points.

Five events of the PSA World Series have already taken place which includes JP Morgan Tournament of Champions (US), North American Open, Australian Open, ROWE British Grand Prix and US Open.

The other four are Qatar Classic, Hong Kong Open (November 15 to 20), Kuwait Open (November 24 to 29) and Punj Lloyd PSA Masters, New Delhi, India (December 12 to 18).

The $150,000 tournament is organised by Qatar Squash Federation (QSF) and is into its 11th year. Like in previous years, all the top-ranked international players will be seen in action in the seven-day tournament.

The top seed from Sheffield will seek to take his PSA World Series consistent run to the Qatar tournament. The Englishman has made it to the final of the all the five events of the series, winning one and losing four and is eager to figure in yet another final in Qatar.

Matthew faces a fast improving Aamir Atlas Khan from Pakistan in the first round match and in the quarter-finals is expected to face sixth seed Gregory Gaultier of France in the quarter-finals.

The Englishman, who won here in 2009, will have also have to content with the challenge of either of one of the two former champions in the semi-final, if he clears the Gautlier hurdle.

Third seed Karim Darwish and fifth seed Amr Shabana, both of Egypt, also figure in the top half of the draw along with Matthew.

Shabana, stopped Matthew’s in his tracks in this month’s US Open final.

The four-time World champion, who took a six-month break from the PSA World Series Tour earlier this year to recover from injury, ended his title drought with the US Open win. For the 32-year-old from Cairo, it was his first title since his fourth World Open triumph back in November 2009. It was also the first time Shabana had got the better of Matthew in two years, having last beaten him in the 2009 Malaysian Open final.

The Egyptian is now in third place in the PSA World Series standings, after pushing England’s James Willstrop down to fourth place. The Egyptian, who won here in November 2007, faces Nicolas Mueller of Switzerland in the first round match.

Darwish, beaten by Mohd Azlan Iskandar in the first round of the US Open, slips out of the top eight -while the Malaysian takes his place to secure his first appearance in the top eight this year.

Darwish, who defeated compatriot Shabana in the final last year, will be seeking his third title here, having won also in 2008. The year old will square up against a qualifier in the first round match.

England’s Peter Nicol is the only other player who has won the prestigious title twice in 2001 and 2002.  Frenchman Thierry Lincou, Willstrop, Ashour and Shabana have one title against their name in Qatar.

In the bottom half of the draw, Ashour will be hoping to repeat his success of April 2007. The 24-year-old from Cairo faces Tom Richards of England in the first round. The Egyptian has featured in four of the PSA World Series finals, winning three and losing one to Matthew. Ashour, will run into the challenge of three seeded players Willstrop (4), Peter Barker (7) of England and David Palmer (8) of Australia on way to the final.