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
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!
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!
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!"
unbeaten now for more than a year, was delighted with the outcome of
WISPA World Tour
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
"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.
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
Kuwait Open 2007
 Amr Shabana (Egy)
11/4, 11/6, 6/11, 6/11, 11/7 (60m)
[Q] Alister Walker (Eng)
11/7, 11/9, 13/11 (54m)
11-8, 11-8, 4-11, 11-8 (55m)
11-7, 11-3, 8-11, 11-6 (67m)
11-5, 11-3, 11-10 (2-0) (34m)
 Adrian Grant (Eng)
6/11, 12/10, 5/11, 11/9, 11/3 (86m)
Azlan Iskandar (Mas)
 James Willstrop (Eng)
11/6, 11/8, 8/11, 13/11 (52m)
Borja Golan (Esp)
14/12, 11/2, 11/6 (58m)
 Lee Beachill (Eng)
11/4, 11/4, 11/5 (28m)
Alex Gough (Wal)
 David Palmer (Aus)
9/11, 4/11, 11/2, 11/3, 11/3 (71m)
[Q] Davide Bianchetti (Ita)
5/11, 11/7, 11/3, 11/6
1-11, 11-4, 7-11, 11-9, 11-5 (81m)
 Stewart Boswell (Aus)
11/9, 11/9, 9/11, 2/11, 11/5 (90m)
Shahier Razik (Can)
 Nick Matthew (Eng)
11/7, 5/11, 11/3, 11/7 (54m)
Olli Tuominen (Fin)
11/7, 7/11, 11/5, 11/5
 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)
 Wael El Hindi (Egy)
Wael El Hindi
13/11, 14/12, 11/7 (43m)
Wael El Hindi
11-9, 11-9, 6-11, 11-9 (63m)
11-3, 8-11, 11-9, 11-9 (52m)
[Q] Jonathan Kemp (Eng)
11/13, 11/7, 11/3, 11/9 (44m)
 Anthony Ricketts (Aus)
[Q] Hisham Ashour (Egy)
10/12, 11/9, 11/5, 13/11 (46m)
 Ong Beng Hee (Mas)
Ong Beng Hee
11/6, 11/3, 11/7 (29m)
[Q] Joey Barrington (Eng)
11/7, 11/1, 11/5 (31m)
 Ramy Ashour (Egy)
Laurens Jan Anjema (Ned)
11/8,11/4, 11/3 (48m)
 Peter Barker (Eng)
23/21, 4/11, 11/4,
8/11, 12/10 (80m)
4-11, 11-5, 11-9, 11-5 (53m)
[Q] Aamir Atlas Khan (Pak)
11/6, 11/2, 11/2 (33m)
 Karim Darwish (Egy)
Cameron Pilley (Aus)
7/11, 11/6, 9/11, 11/4, 11/3 (62m)
 John White (Sco)
6/11, 12/10, 11/6, 4/0 rtd (43m)
[Q] Renan Lavigne (Fra)
11/3, 11/5, 11/4 (37m)
 Gregory Gaultier (Fra)
 Thierry Lincou withdrew 4th April with a calf injury
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).
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
El Halaby (Egy), Omar Elborolossy (Egy), Chris Gordon (Usa),
Mohd AA Reda (Egy), Farhan Mehboob (Pak), Yasir Butt (Pak)
 Nicol David (Mas)
9/3, 9/5, 9/7 (46m)
Madeline Perry (Irl)
10-8, 7-9, 9-6, 9-0 (51m)
Omneya Abdel Kawy
4, 9-0, 9-2 (30m)
9-6, 10-8, 2-9, 9-1 (93m)
 Omneya Abdel Kawy (Egy)
9/4, 7/9, 9/5, 9/5 (44m)
[Q] Isabelle Stoehr (Fra)
 Tania Bailey (Eng)
9/6, 7/9, 9/5, 4/9, 9/6 (104m)
Laura Lengthorn (Eng)
9-1, 7-9, 9-4, 9-0 (46m)
 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)
 Vicky Botwright (Eng)
9-4, 9-1, 5-9, 4-9, 9-6 (65m)
4, 9-1, 9-3 (30m)
[Q] Shelley Kitchen (Nzl)
7/9, 9/2, 9/5, 4/9, 9/7 (67m)
 Rachael Grinham (Aus)
9/7,9/6, 9/4 (40m)
 Vanessa Atkinson (Ned)
9-5, 9-0, 9-1 (30m)
[Q] Kasey Brown (Aus)
9/3, 9/1, 9/0 (32m)
 Natalie Grinham (Aus)
Kheirallah (EGY) bt Dominique Lloyd-Walter (ENG) 9-6, 2-9,
9-3, 9-1 (54m)
Stoehr (FRA) bt Jaclyn Hawkes (NZL) 9-4, 9-6, 4-9, 7-9, 9-3
(AUS) bt Annelize Naude (NED) 9-2, 9-5, 9-7 (66m)
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
The other men's
semi-final saw the brave run of Scotland's 33-year-old
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
- 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
The impressive run of form
being enjoyed by Scotland's
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
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
John White was not the
only tour 'veteran' and former world number one shining in Kuwait: In the
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
Grinham despatched England's unseeded
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
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.
clinched his 11-10 (13-11), 4-11, 11-4, 8-11, 11-10 (2-0) win after 80
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
"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."
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
Kemp Carves Out Kuwait Conquest
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
afterwards. "It's a bit of a wake-up call."
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.
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!"
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.
junior is expected to face favourite Nicol David, the
defending champion and world number one from Malaysia, in
Sheikha Al Saad Kuwait Open Reveals Record Prize
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
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
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
"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
"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
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