Sheikha Al Saad Kuwait Open

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Teenager Ashour Wins World's Biggest Squash Prize 

In an historic climax to the Sheikha Al Saad Kuwait Open, Egyptian teenager Ramy Ashour won the richest ever prize in squash when he beat compatriot Amr Shabana, the world number one, in straight games in the men's final - and Malaysia's world number one Nicol David prevailed over Australia's Natalie Grinham in a 93-minute women's final to record the longest four-game women's match on record.


The world's richest squash tournament at the Al Qadsia Sports Centre in Kuwait City boasted a $200,000 PSA Super Series Platinum men's event and a $58,500 WISPA Gold women's championship.


Still five months away from his 20th birthday, Ramy Ashour truly came of age in Kuwait when he crushed Shabana - winner of two PSA Super Series titles already this year - 11-5, 11-3, 11-10 (2-0) in just 34 minutes.


It was the pair's fourth meeting in six months - but the first time that the young pretender had overcome his illustrious senior fellow countryman.  And he did so in some style!


After overwhelming Shabana in the first two games, Ashour was unable to continue the blistering attack in the third as the 27-year-old top seed reasserted his authority on the match to move ahead to his first game-ball at 10-6.  But the effervescent youngster struck back in sensational style to clinch the match in straight games.


"When you start so well, hitting winners and moving well like I did, you're always going to have a drop off at some point," Ashour said after the match.  "I've been trying to work on my focus to make sure I don't relax after a good start.  I don't think I relaxed in the third, I just got a bit loose, but I always thought I could come back and I was ready for another one or two games if necessary.


"I didn't expect it to be like that, I thought it would be much harder, but I think he was suffering with his blisters.  I'm really excited about what happened here today, but I'm sure it will be much tougher next time I play him!"


Shabana admitted he began poorly:  "He was very good, but I didn't start well, I opened up the court too much, but managed to keep it tighter in the third.  You have to do that for the whole match these days or you won't win.  I felt that if I'd taken the third it would have been a different story, but it was so close, so far.


"We may play in the semis next week in Qatar, but he's got to get past his brother first, everyone will be watching that one.  If we do meet then I'd like to think revenge will be sweet!"


The women's final was the latest in a remarkable series of marathon battles between the world's top two players.  In the World Open final in Belfast last November, it took five games and 95 minutes to separate the pair - and in last month's Kuala Lumpur Open climax, Nicol David delighted her home country fans by beating Natalie Grinham again, this time taking 102 minutes and a further five games to stamp her authority.


While many thought this might be the time for Grinham's revenge, it was again the 23-year-old from Penang who emerged triumphant in a 9-6, 10-8, 2-9, 9-1 scoreline.  Record books showed that the 93-minute timing had never before been exceeded in matches with fewer than five games!


"It's very disappointing," said Grinham, the world No2 from Toowoomba in Queensland.  "I was up in the first and the second, and I can't believe I've come off still feeling so fresh.  I should have expended more energy out there.  I wish I was paid by the hour!"


Nicol David, unbeaten now for more than a year, was delighted with the outcome of her 30th WISPA World Tour final appearance.  "I was very, very, happy with my game - I really stuck to it in the first two games even though I had a little dip in the second.


"It's great to win here a second time and retain my title, it's been a fantastic week," added the Malaysian super star who has now played 43 international matches without defeat.



. Previews
. Reports

. Men's Draw
. Men's Qualifying
. Women's Draw
. Women's Qualifying

Ramy Ashour and Nicol David collected the impressive Shiekha Al Saad Kuwait Open

John White through to Semi Finals in Kuwait



Amr Shabana seeded No 1 is on course for final

Kuwait Open 2007
Men's Draw
Round One
Round Two
[1] Amr Shabana (Egy)
11/4, 11/6, 6/11, 6/11, 11/7 (60m)
[Q] Alister Walker (Eng)      
Amr Shabana
11/7, 11/9, 13/11 (54m)
Adrian Grant
Amr Shabana
11-8, 11-8, 4-11, 11-8 (55m)
 Lee Beachill
Amr Shabana
11-7, 11-3, 8-11, 11-6 (67m)
David Palmer
Amr Shabana
  11-5, 11-3, 11-10 (2-0) (34m)
Ramy Ashour
[14] Adrian Grant (Eng)
6/11, 12/10, 5/11, 11/9, 11/3 (86m)
Azlan Iskandar (Mas)
[7] James Willstrop (Eng)
11/6, 11/8, 8/11, 13/11 (52m)
Borja Golan (Esp)
James Willstrop
14/12, 11/2, 11/6 (58m)
Lee Beachill
[9] Lee Beachill (Eng)
11/4, 11/4, 11/5 (28m)
Alex Gough (Wal)
[3] David Palmer (Aus)
9/11, 4/11, 11/2, 11/3, 11/3 (71m)
[Q] Davide Bianchetti (Ita)
David Palmer
5/11, 11/7, 11/3, 11/6 (59m)
Stewart Boswell
David Palmer
1-11, 11-4, 7-11, 11-9, 11-5 (81m)
 Nick Matthew
[10] Stewart Boswell (Aus)
11/9, 11/9, 9/11, 2/11, 11/5 (90m)
Shahier Razik (Can)
[6] Nick Matthew (Eng)
11/7, 5/11, 11/3, 11/7 (54m)
Olli Tuominen (Fin)
Nick Matthew
11/7, 7/11, 11/5, 11/5 (56m)
 Mohammed Abbas
[13] Mohammed Abbas (Egy)
11/4, 11/3, 11/7 (31m)
Bader Al Hussaini (Kuw)       
[Q] Bradley Ball (Eng)
11/5, 11/8, 11/4 (31m)
[12] Wael El Hindi (Egy)
Wael El Hindi
13/11, 14/12, 11/7 (43m)
 Jonathan Kemp
Wael El Hindi
11-9, 11-9, 6-11, 11-9 (63m)
 Ramy Ashour
Ramy Ashour
11-3, 8-11, 11-9, 11-9 (52m)
John White
[Q] Jonathan Kemp (Eng)
11/13, 11/7, 11/3, 11/9 (44m)
[5] Anthony Ricketts (Aus)
[Q] Hisham Ashour (Egy)
10/12, 11/9, 11/5, 13/11 (46m)
[15] Ong Beng Hee (Mas)
Ong Beng Hee
11/6, 11/3, 11/7 (29m)
Ramy Ashour
[Q] Joey Barrington (Eng)
11/7, 11/1, 11/5 (31m)
[4] Ramy Ashour (Egy)
Laurens Jan Anjema (Ned)
11/8,11/4, 11/3 (48m)
[16] Peter Barker (Eng)
Peter Barker
23/21, 4/11, 11/4, 8/11, 12/10 (80m)
Karim Darwish
Karim Darwish
4-11, 11-5, 11-9, 11-5 (53m)
 John White
[Q] Aamir Atlas Khan (Pak)
11/6, 11/2, 11/2 (33m)
[8] Karim Darwish (Egy)
Cameron Pilley (Aus)
7/11, 11/6, 9/11, 11/4, 11/3 (62m)
[11] John White (Sco)
John White
6/11, 12/10, 11/6, 4/0 rtd (43m)
 Gregory Gaultier
[Q] Renan Lavigne (Fra)
11/3, 11/5, 11/4 (37m)
[2] Gregory Gaultier (Fra)

[4] Thierry Lincou withdrew 4th April with a calf injury

Men's Qualifying

Qualifiers (24):
Hisham Ashour (Egy), Joey Barrington (Eng), Bradley Ball (Eng), Davide Bianchetti (Ita), Renan Lavigne (Fra), Jonathan Kemp (Eng), Alister Walker (Eng), Liam Kenny (Irl), Eric Galvez (Mex), Aamir Atlas Khan (Pak), Daryl Selby (Eng), Shahid Zaman (Pak), Omar Mosaad (Egy), Dylan Bennett (Ned), Saurav Ghosal (Ind), Amr Mansi (Egy), Jean-Michel Arcu i (Fra), Tarek Momen (Egy), Omar Abdel Aziz (Egy), Miguel Rodrigues (Col), Kashif Shuja (Nzl), Jan Koukal (Cze), Amr Swelim (Egy).

Locals (8):
Nasser B Al-Ramezi, Mohammed H Hajeyah, Fala F Mohammed, Salem F Mohammed,
Ahmed A Al-Randi, Alib Al-Ramezi, Abdullah Al-Mezayen, Abd Al Rahman Al-Malki

Yasser El Halaby (Egy), Omar Elborolossy (Egy), Chris Gordon (Usa), Mohd AA Reda (Egy), Farhan Mehboob (Pak), Yasir Butt (Pak)

Kuwait Open 2007
Women's Draw
Round One

[1] Nicol David (Mas)
9/3, 9/5, 9/7 (46m)
Madeline Perry (Irl)

Nicol David
10-8, 7-9, 9-6, 9-0 (51m)  
Omneya Abdel Kawy

Nicol David
4, 9-0, 9-2 (30m)  
Natalie Grainger
Nicol David
9-6, 10-8, 2-9, 9-1 (93m)
Natalie Grinham

[7] Omneya Abdel Kawy (Egy)
 9/4, 7/9, 9/5, 9/5 (44m)
[Q] Isabelle Stoehr (Fra)

[4] Tania Bailey (Eng)
9/6, 7/9, 9/5, 4/9, 9/6 (104m)
Laura Lengthorn (Eng)

Tania Bailey
9-1, 7-9, 9-4, 9-0 (46m)  
Natalie Grainger

[6] Natalie Grainger (Usa)
9/4, 9/4, 7/9, 6/9, 10/8 (62m)
Alison Waters (Eng)

[Q] Engy Kheirallah (Egy)
2/9, 9/2, 9/2, 9/5 (58m)
[5] Vicky Botwright (Eng)

Vicky Botwright
9-4, 9-1, 5-9, 4-9, 9-6 (65m)
Shelley Kitchen
Vicky Botwright
4, 9-1, 9-3 (30m) 
Natalie Grinham

[Q] Shelley Kitchen (Nzl)
 7/9, 9/2, 9/5, 4/9, 9/7 (67m)
[3] Rachael Grinham (Aus)

Jenny Duncalf (Eng)
9/7,9/6, 9/4 (40m)
[8] Vanessa Atkinson (Ned)

Jenny Duncalf
9-5, 9-0, 9-1 (30m)
Natalie Grinham

[Q] Kasey Brown (Aus)
9/3, 9/1, 9/0 (32m) 
[2] Natalie Grinham (Aus)

Women's Qualifying

Engy Kheirallah (EGY) bt Dominique Lloyd-Walter (ENG) 9-6, 2-9, 9-3, 9-1 (54m)

Isabelle Stoehr (FRA) bt Jaclyn Hawkes (NZL) 9-4, 9-6, 4-9, 7-9, 9-3 (68m)

Kasey Brown (AUS) bt Annelize Naude (NED) 9-2, 9-5, 9-7 (66m)

Shelley Kitchen (NZL) bt Raneem El Weleily (EGY) 9-1, 9-5, 9-6 (36m)


Dream Finals Await Kuwait Open Crowds

The world's richest squash tournament has reached a fitting climax with an all-Egyptian men's final of the Sheikha Al Saad Kuwait Open featuring the world number one Amr Shabana and the sport's latest teenage star Ramy Ashour, and the women's final at the Al Qadsia Sports Centre in Kuwait City boasting the world's top two players Nicol David and Natalie Grinham.


Shabana, the 27-year-old from Cairo who is seeded to pick up his third PSA Super Series crown of the year in Kuwait, was taken to four games by World Open champion David Palmer, the third seed.  But the Australian, who was taken to five games in an 81-minute marathon by British Open champion Nick Matthew 24 hours earlier, will be unable to repeat his title victory of 2005 after the Egyptian clinched his 11-7, 11-3, 8-11, 11-6 victory after 67 minutes.


"I felt a bit flat at the start after last night's match, maybe 10% down - but you can't afford to be 1% down against him," said Palmer afterwards.  "I felt I was always playing catch-up, but I did my best and hung in there as long as I could."


Shabana, now in his 23rd PSA Tour final, added:  "I could feel that he was a little tired, but then he got his second wind at the end of the third, and I thought 'oh my god, you're always more dangerous when you've got your second wind'."


The other men's semi-final saw the brave run of Scotland's 33-year-old John White come to an end after his battle with Ramy Ashour, some 14 years younger! 


The 19-year-old fourth seed from Cairo took the opening game, but a determined effort from the former world number one who reached last month's Canary Wharf Classic final in London saw White level the match.  The eleventh-seeded Scot continued to test the irrepressible Ashour, but the teenager battled on to win 11-3, 8-11, 11-9, 11-9 in 52 minutes.


"He played really well, he was going for everything and I had to really push to bring him back into my game," said Ashour, celebrating his eighth Tour final.  "The last two times we played it was 3/2, but this one was much harder - it was really enjoyable too."


White agreed:  "It was enjoyable, but unfortunately that's what happens when you play a 19-year-old with plenty of energy - he needs to conserve some!"


The final will be Shabana and Ashour's fourth Tour meeting since October 2006, with the younger Egyptian seeking his maiden win.


Malaysia's top seed Nicol David, unbeaten since March 2006, chalked up her 42nd successive international win when she beat USA's No6 seed Natalie Grainger 9-4, 9-0, 9-2 in 30 minutes.  The 23-year-old world number one from Penang was in commanding form against the experienced 29-year-old who has recently become a US citizen.


"I knew that I had to be on, you can't give her any room, even a slight opening and she goes for it," said the Malaysian favourite afterwards.  "I'm pleased with my game, I'm getting more comfortable on the court and my body is getting more comfortable too."


In the other semi, second seed Natalie Grinham faced her toughest opponent so far in Vicky Botwright - but still managed to be the only player to reach the final without dropping a game when she beat the fifth seed from England 9-4, 9-1, 9-3.


"I thought I played OK in patches, but she was just too good tonight," said Botwright, the world number five from Manchester.  "I was feeling the pressure and felt a bit tired, but even at the end I was hitting some good shots - but they just kept coming back."


Grinham junior, ranked two in the world, added:  "I was really focused out there and I thought I played well.  Hoping not to let anyone down tomorrow and hope we have another good match."


The final will mark Nicol David's 30th on the WISPA World Tour - and the 21st for Natalie Grinham.  But the pair have provided some of the Tour's most stunning recent clashes - including a 95-minute five-game epic World Open final in Belfast in November, followed by a 102-minute five-game marathon Kuala Lumpur Open climax last month in David's home country!  In their 11 meetings since November 2003, David leads by a 6/5 margin.

White Storms On In Kuwait Open

The impressive run of form being enjoyed by Scotland's John White took another major step forward in the quarter-finals of the Sheikha Al Saad Kuwait Open when the 11th seed upset Egypt's Karim Darwish, the No8 seed, to reach the last four of the world's richest squash tournament at the Al Qadsia Sports Centre in Kuwait City.


For the fourth time this year, the 33-year-old US-based Scot has exceeded his seeding in a major PSA Tour event - last month courageously reaching the final of the Canary Wharf Classic in London before taking his opponent to five games for the fourth match in a row - an achievement which marked a career first!


After taking out France's No2 seed Gregory Gaultier in the previous round of the PSA Super Series Platinum event, White dropped the first game against Darwish in the quarter-finals.  But, defying the eight-year age gap with the Egyptian, the hard-hitting White stormed through to a 4-11, 11-5, 11-9, 11-5 victory in 53 minutes.


"It's similar to how I was against Gaultier, and at Canary Wharf - hanging in there and taking the opportunities when they came," White said afterwards.  "I've got the shots, it's just a question of getting them behind me and making them give me opportunities to go for things.


"It wasn't too physical. We had three or four gruelling rallies each game, but there were a lot of short ones too.  He was a bit deflated when I got a lead in the fourth so I kept going for it.


"That's another flight I'll have to change - and another youngster next!"


The 'youngster' in question is the PSA Tour's 'new kid on the block' Ramy Ashour - the 19-year-old Egyptian who already has a PSA Super Series title (the Canadian Classic) under his belt and a world number five ranking to go with it!


Fourth seed Ashour had to battle for 63 minutes before getting the better of compatriot the Wael El Hindi, the 12th seed, 11-9, 11-9, 6-11, 11-9.


There will be Egyptian representation in the other semi-final when top seed Amr Shabana takes on Australia's World Open champion David Palmer.


Shabana, the world number one from Cairo who is expected to pick up his third Super Series crown of the year in Kuwait, beat England's ninth seed Lee Beachill 11-8, 11-8, 4-11, 11-8 in 55 minutes.


Palmer, being made to fight back from behind in a five-game marathon for the second time in the tournament, finally overcame England's British Open champion Nick Matthew, the No6 seed, 1-11, 11-4, 7-11, 11-9, 11-5 after 81 minutes.


John White was not the only tour 'veteran' and former world number one shining in Kuwait:  In the women's WISPA Gold tournament, sixth seed Natalie Grainger celebrated her first appearance in a WISPA Grand Prix event as a US citizen by upsetting England's No4 seed Tania Bailey 9-1, 7-9, 9-4, 9-0.


"I came out well, and felt good at the end, just had a sticky patch in the middle," was how the 29-year-old summed up the victory which takes the US National champion into a semi-final against top seed Nicol David.


The world number one from Malaysia relived her long-time junior rivalry with Omneya Abdel Kawy when she beat the seventh seed from Cairo 10-8, 7-9, 9-6, 9-0. 


"I could only find my rhythm in patches in the first two games, and she was playing well," said Nicol David later.


"I'm pleased that I found the way in the end - I kept telling myself that whatever it is the game's not over until it's over, I always seem to find my best game when I'm down," explained the 23-year-old from Penang who is now well into her second year without a defeat to her name!


The other semi-final will pitch Australia's No2 seed Natalie Grinham against England's fifth seed Vicky Botwright.  Grinham despatched England's unseeded Jenny Duncalf 9-5, 9-0, 9-1, while Botwright ended the giant-killing run of Shelley Kitchen, beating the Kiwi qualifier 9-4, 9-1, -9, 4-9, 9-6 in 65 minutes.



Gaultier Limps Out Of Kuwait Open


An apparent recurrence of the ankle injury which halted his progress last month saw France's second seed Gregory Gaultier limp out of the men's second round of the Sheikha Al Saad Kuwait Open as 11th seed John White claimed an unexpected place in the quarter-finals of the world's richest squash tournament at the Al Qadsia Sports Centre in Kuwait City.


After the world No2 from Aix-en-Provence won the opening game, Scotland's rejuvenated White - runner-up in last month's Canary Wharf Classic in London - took the next two and was 4-0 up in the fourth when Gaultier was forced to concede, with his right ankle clearly in pain.


White's 6-11, 11-10 (2-0), 11-6, 4-0 victory takes him into a last eight clash in the PSA Super Series Platinum event against Egyptian Karim Darwish.  The No8 seed was taken the full distance by England's 16th seed Peter Barker - indeed the first game itself established a Super Series record when it was finally settled at 23-21, the largest single-game score since the PSA introduced its 11-point game in 2004.


Darwish eventually clinched his 11-10 (13-11), 4-11, 11-4, 8-11, 11-10 (2-0) win after 80 minutes.


An all-English second round clash saw 9th seed Lee Beachill avenge his defeat by Pontefract and England team-mate James Willstrop only two weeks ago when he upset his higher-seeded opponent 11-10 (4-2), 11-2, 11-6 in 58 minutes.


"The first game was crucial, it was tight all the way through and it was hard physically, but even more so mentally," Beachill said afterwards.  "Winning that gave me a confidence boost and I think it took a little confidence out of him.


"The second was the best game of squash I've played for two or three years - he didn't play badly but I didn't hit a single loose ball."


Seventh seed Willstrop added:  "I've found a way to get to him, but it doesn't mean I can do it every time, especially on this type of court."


Beachill now faces top seed Amr Shabana, the world No1 from Egypt who took 54 minutes to down another Englishman Adrian Grant, the 14th seed, 11-7, 11-9, 11-10 (3-1).


The first round matches in the women's WISPA Gold event produced a pair of upsets and one of the longest matches ever recorded. 


Australia's former world number one Rachael Grinham, the No3 seed, suffered her first opening round defeat in a WISPA Grand Prix event for five years when she crashed out to New Zealander Shelley Kitchen.


The kiwi, who has never before beaten Grinham on the WISPA Tour, became the only qualifier to reach the last eight with a 7-9, 9-2, 9-5, 4-9, 9-7 win in 67 minutes.


"I hadn't played Rachael for a year - and she beat me pretty easily then - but I knew the court suited the way I play, so even though I was tired I knew I had to keep going," explained Kitchen.  "She lost her length a bit in the fifth, let me back in front of her and I managed to pull through."


England's unseeded Jenny Duncalf extended her recent run of good form by beating Vanessa Atkinson, the No8 seed from the Netherlands, 9-7, 9-6, 9-4.


"I'd never beaten her before so I'm very happy with a 3/0," said Duncalf, from Yorkshire.  "I've been playing well recently and was looking forward to this tournament."


Two of Duncalf's England team-mates battled out a first round match for 104 minutes before a winner was revealed.  In a match almost 20 minutes longer than her previous record, fourth seed Tania Bailey eventually edged out Laura-Jane Lengthorn 9-6, 7-9, 9-5, 4-9, 9-6.


"I was absolutely dying for a drink in the fifth, it's all I was thinking about - and I never change my shirt during a match but I so wanted to in that one," said Bailey later.


Kemp Carves Out Kuwait Conquest


English qualifier Jonathan Kemp pulled off the only upset in today's (Saturday) first round action in the Sheikha Al Saad Kuwait Open when he beat Australia's No5 seed Anthony Ricketts in the world's richest squash tournament at the Al Qadsia Sports Centre in Kuwait City.


Ricketts was making his Tour comeback after treatment for an elbow injury which caused his retirement from the final of last month's Tournament of Champions in New York.  Kemp, 26, from Telford in Shropshire, recovered from a game down to upset the former world No3 from Sydney 10-11 (1-3), 11-7, 11-3, 11-9 in 44 minutes.


The Englishman will now face 12th seed Wael El Hindi in the second round of the PSA Super Series Platinum event after the Egyptian despatched another English qualifier Bradley Ball 11-5, 11-8, 11-4.


Egypt's world number one Amr Shabana was another player returning to the Tour after an injury.  Seemingly untroubled by his wrist, the top seed sailed through the first two games against Alister Walker


But the English qualifier from Leeds gained the upper hand in the next two games to force the match into a fifth game decider.  However, the left-hander from Cairo rediscovered the form which has seen him win two PSA Super Series titles already this year - and went on to clinch an 11-4, 11-6, 6-11, 6-11, 11-7 victory in exactly one hour.


World champion David Palmer also struggled to a five-game win in his opener.  The fifth-seeded Australian recovered from two games down to beat Italian qualifier Davide Bianchetti 9-11, 4-11, 11-2, 11-3, 11-3 in 71 minutes.


"I was a bit slow out of the blocks, to be sure," Palmer told afterwards.  "It's a bit of a wake-up call."


Malaysia's Ong Beng Hee will have to defeat both of the sport's most talented brothers if he is to make the event's last eight.  Today the 15th seed defeated Egyptian qualifier Hisham Mohd Ashour 10-11 (0-2), 11-9, 11-5, 11-10 (3-1), and will now face his younger sibling Ramy Ashour, the No4 seed, in the quarter-finals.  Ashour junior, the 19-year-old who already has a Super Series title to his name this year, beat English qualifier Joey Barrington 11-7, 11-1, 11-5.


"I was a little nervous to start with, Hisham is so talented and unpredictable," said Ong Beng Hee.  "He can hit you with eight winners from nowhere, and his boasts are the best around.  He's playing so much better than his ranking.


"I'm very excited - one Ashour down, now to take on the other one.  If I can beat the two Ashours, my ball sense must be the best in the world!"


Egypt's Engy Kheirallah, France's Isabelle Stoehr, Australia's Kasey Brown and New Zealand's Shelley Kitchen came through today's qualifying finals in the women's WISPA Gold event.  Brown, from New South Wales, was drawn to face compatriot Natalie Grinham, the No2 seed, in the first round.


Grinham junior is expected to face favourite Nicol David, the defending champion and world number one from Malaysia, in Wednesday's final.



Sheikha Al Saad Kuwait Open Reveals Record Prize Fund

Organisers of the 2007 Sheikha Al Saad Kuwait Squash Open have announced that the total prize fund for the event has been raised to a new record of $250,000.


In an unprecedented move for professional squash, the prize money increase was announced on the eve of the tournamentís qualifying rounds at the Al Qadsia Sports Centre in Kuwait City.


The prize fund for the menís Professional Squash Association (PSA) Super Series Platinum tournament has been increased from $175,000 to $200,000.  Another $50,000 is on offer for the Women's International Squash Players Association (WISPA) Gold event.  


The total amount of $250,000 is the highest ever offered for a professional squash tournament anywhere in the world.


Major General Dr. Mahmoud Razouki, Technical Director of the Sheikha Al Saad Kuwait Open, said:  "Our sole desire is to help raise the profile of professional squash and to benefit the players who are competing here in Kuwait."


The decision to increase the prize money was made by Sheikha Fadyah Al-Sabah, the Tournament President and sister of the late Sheikha Al Saad in whose honour the event has been named.


Gawain Briars, Chief Executive of the PSA, said:  "I have just received the wonderful news of the prize money uplift for the Sheikha Al Saad Kuwait Open.  Confirmation of an increase from $175,000 to a $200,000 prize fund for the menís event firmly anchors this tournament as the biggest on the world circuit.


"The players will be delighted with this news as they arrive in Kuwait to prepare for their matches, knowing that Sheikha Fadyah has even further demonstrated her commitment to the professional game with this magnanimous gesture.  It will be a tremendous boost to the players.


"Total prize money for the menís and womenís events over the three years is now certain to exceed $800,000, an historic contribution by Kuwait to the world of squash," added Briars.


The prize money increase will have a significant impact on the record-breaking three-year agreement between the Sheikha Al Saad Kuwait Open and the PSA.  Under the deal, Kuwait will host another Super Series Platinum Event in 2008 and will then host the 2009 World Open Championship.


"Sheikha Fadyah Al Sabah has once again managed to astonish me with her caring spirit and her support for the professional game of squash," said Tournament Director Robert Edwards.  "She has raised the bar yet again, before we even hit the first ball, by taking what was already the biggest-ever event, and raising it to an unprecedented $200,000 for the men alone, and a grand total of $250,000.


"Last night, Dr Razouki told me of her plans.  I suspect that he had some input into this decision.  For a man doing his first ever professional tournament, he has had a pretty spectacular influence on the game.  It is so refreshing that Sheikha Fadyah's driving desire is to make the lot of the professional squash player a better one.  There's going to be a lot smiling faces around the courts this week, including my own.  This is something I've wanted to see since I began in the professional arena," Edwards concluded.


The worldís top players have now arrived in Kuwait for the Sheikha Al Saad Open, with qualifying rounds beginning tomorrow (5 April) and a spectacular opening ceremony to be held on Saturday night at the Qadsia Sports Centre.  The menís PSA tournament runs from 7 April and the womenís draw begins on the 8th, with menís and womenís finals to be held next Wednesday (11 April).


Egyptís world number one Amr Shabana and Kuwaitís Bader Al Hussaini will be among the players featured on centre court in Saturday nightís official opening.


Shabana heads the men's field.  Winner of two Super Series titles already this year in the USA - the Infor Windy City Open and Bear Stearns Tournament of Champions - the 27-year-old from Cairo heads the latest Super Series standings.


However, Shabana will be competing in his first event since withdrawing from last month's ISS Canary Wharf Classic in London, suffering with a wrist injury.  The left-hander faces a qualifier in the opening round before a predicted quarter-final clash with England's No8 seed James Willstrop, winner of the Canary Wharf Classic in Shabana's absence.


World No2 Gregory Gaultier is the event's second seed.  The Frenchman is also making a return to the Tour after being forced to pull out of the Tournament of Champions in February with an ankle injury.  The 24-year-old from Aix-en-Provence also faces a qualifier in the first round - and then is expected to meet Egypt's 'new kid on the block' Ramy Ashour in the last eight.  Ashour, the 19-year-old fifth seed, scooped the first Super Series title of the year at the PACE Canadian Classic in Toronto.


Australia's World Open champion David Palmer, winner of the Kuwait Open title two years ago, is the event's No3 seed and scheduled to face England's British Open champion Nick Matthew in the quarter-finals. 


Frenchman Thierry Lincou, a former World Open champion and world number one, is the No4 seed.  His likely quarter-final opponent, a ording to the draw, is Anthony Ricketts - a third player returning from a Tour layoff.  An elbow injury forced the sixth-seeded Australian to retire during the Tournament of Champions final - for which he immediately sought treatment back home in Australia.


Malaysia's world number one Nicol David, unbeaten for more than a year, is seeded to win her eighth WISPA World Tour title in a row in the women's WISPA Gold 35 event.  In the final, the 23-year-old from Penang is expected to meet Australia's world No2 Natalie Grinham in a repeat of November's World Open climax in Belfast



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