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03/11/2010
KUWAIT OPEN 2010
 

Ramy Ashour Clinches Kuwait Open Crown

Kuwait Open 2010
28-Oct - 02 Nov, Kuwait, $172k

Round One
28 & 29 Oct
Round Two
30 Oct
Quarters
31 Oct
Semis
01 Nov
Final
02 Nov
[1] Nick Matthew (Eng)
11-9, 13-11, 11-6 (49m)
[Q] Steve Coppinger (Rsa)
Nick Matthew
9-11, 6-11, 11-7, 11-1, 11-7 (83m)
Daryl Selby
Daryl Selby
11-6, 11-2, 11-1 (35m)
Gregory Gaultier
Gregory Gaultier
11-9, 11-3, 7-5 ret. (56m)
Amr Shabana
Amr Shabana
9-11, 11-4, 13-11, 11-1 (45m)
Ramy Ashour
[9] Daryl Selby (Eng)
11/3, 11/3, 11/6 (26m)
Jonathan Kemp (Eng)
[5] Gregory Gaultier (Fra)
11/5, 11/5, 6/11, 11/2
Abdullah Almezayen (Kuw)
Gregory Gaultier
11-3, 11-4, 11-6 (50m)
Adrian Grant
[14] Adrian Grant (Eng)
 5/11, 11/9, 11/8, 4/11, 11/8 (85m)
[Q] Nicolas Mueller (Sui)
[3] Amr Shabana (Egy)
7-11, 11-8, 11-7, 11-6 (58m)
Stewart Boswell (Aus)
Amr Shabana
7-11, 11-5, 11-5, 11-6 (56m)
Cameron Pilley
Amr Shabana
11-8, 11-5, 11-5 (36m)
Peter Barker
[16] Cameron Pilley (Aus)
11-7, 11-2, 11-8 (53m)
[Q] Ryan Cuskelly (Aus)
[8] Peter Barker (Eng)
11/6, 7/11, 11/3, 11/7 (75m)
[Q] Borja Golan (Esp)
Peter Barker
5-11, 11-6, 11-7, 11-6 (82m)
Alister Walker
[15] Alister Walker (Eng)
11/4, 11/7, 11/5 (44m)
Olli Tuominen (Fin)
Ong Beng Hee (Mas)
11-9, 13-11, 11-2 (35m)
[12] Mohamed El Shorbagy (Egy)
Mohamed El Shorbagy
11-1, 7-11, 11-7, 11-7 (58m)
James Willstrop
James Willstrop
5-11, 11-8, 11-3, 6-11, 11-6 (85m)
Karim Darwish
James Willstrop
11-7, 8-11, 11-9, 10-12, 11-7 (82m)
Ramy Ashour
Aamir Atlas Khan (Pak)
11-7, 11-4, 11-4 (33m)
[6] James Willstrop (Eng)
[Q] Saurav Ghosal (Ind)
11-6, 11-6, 11-8 (47m)
[10] Wael El Hindi (Egy)
Wael El Hindi
11-7, 11-8, 11-7 (36m)
Karim Darwish
[Q] Mark Krajcsak (Hun)
11-7, 6-11, 11-5, 11-6 (42m)
[4] Karim Darwish (Egy)
[Q] Mohammed Abbas (Egy)
11-7, 11-5, 11-9 (43m)
[134] Azlan Iskandar (Mas)
Azlan Iskandar
11-7, 11-9, 13-11 (58m)
Thierry Lincou
Thierry Lincou
11-4, 11-7, 11-4 (33m)
Ramy Ashour
[Q] Ali Anwar Reda (Egy)
11-7, 11-5, 11-2 (33m)
[7] Thierry Lincou (Fra)
[Q] Omar Abdel Aziz (Egy)
11-6, 11-5, 11-5 (39m)
[11] Laurens Jan Anjema (Ned)
Laurens Jan Anjema
7-11, 11-8, 11-9, 11-0 (52m)
Ramy Ashour
Omar Mosaad (Egy)
11-7, 11-5, 11-7 (33m)
[2] Ramy Ashour (Egy)

Ramy Ashour Clinches Kuwait Open Crown

Ramy Ashour prevailed in the all-Egyptian final of the $172,500 HH Sheikh Saad Abdullah Al-Sabah Trophy, The Patriarch Amir, Kuwait Open at Green Island in Kuwait to win his third PSA Super Series title of the year and confirm his status as the world's number one squash player.

It was the fourth time in a row that the Kuwait final had featured Ashour and his illustrious compatriot Amr Shabana, the former world number one from Giza who won the World Open title on the same court last year.

After dropping the first game, Ashour came back fighting to take the second - before moving ahead after saving a game-ball in the third to win the game on a tie-break.

By now, the 23-year-old was flying - and conceded just a single further point before clinching his 9-11, 11-4, 13-11, 11-1 title triumph after 45 minutes.

The win was a 'leveller' in two ways - firstly it levelled the pair's Kuwait clashes to two-all, but it also brought Ashour and Shabana's career head-to-head tally to eight wins apiece!

"The whole week for me was very tough, as I played a lot of strong players which I had to be solid in front of, otherwise I wouldn't have made it to the final - and these matches give you experience and a lot of confidence in your body and mind," champion Ashour said after receiving his trophy from tournament host Sheikha Fadia Al-Sabah and Sheikh Ahmad Al-Abdullah Al-Sabah, the Minister of Oil & Minister of Information.

"Tonight's match was different as I had to push myself for another day against a four times World Open champion, which makes it very special to have a win over him. He is great player," added Ashour, who now boasts 18 PSA Tour titles from 30 final appearances.

"I think we both pushed in the first three games really hard so one of us had to take the high way in the fourth and luckily it was me.

"I want to thank Sheikha Fadia for the great, very well-organised, tournament. We have the best treatment every time we come here, all the players love it. And hopefully we'll be back next year."

Shabana was fulsome in praise for his opponent: "After the third, I let go mentally just a bit, and Ramy ate me alive. This guy is unbelievable, you let go for a second, and he eats your alive."

The victory assures Ashour of top billing in next year's ATCO PSA World Series Squash Finals in London after building up an unassailable 210 point lead at the top of the latest 2010 PSA Super Series Rankings - with two 2010 Super Series events still to go.

The top eight players in the list will compete in the PSA's flagship event at The Queen's Club. England's Peter Barker has now overtaken Australian David Palmer to claim a place in the elite group - pending results in next week's Qatar Classic in Doha, and next month's final SS event of the year, the Punj Lloyd PSA Masters in Delhi, India.

Updated 2010 PSA Super Series Rankings

Ranking

(Prev) Points

1

1

Ramy Ashour (EGY)

600

2

2

Nick Matthew (ENG)

390

3

3

James Willstrop (ENG)

360

4

4

Karim Darwish (EGY)

310

5

5

Gregory Gaultier (FRA)

300

6

6

Amr Shabana (EGY)

245

7

6

Thierry Lincou (FRA)

205

8

9

Peter Barker (ENG)

145

9

8

David Palmer (AUS)

125

10

10

Wael El Hindi (EGY)

120

11

11

Alister Walker (ENG)

110

12

13

Daryl Selby (ENG)

95

12

12

Adrian Grant (ENG)

95

 

Shabana & Ashour Make Fourth Kuwait Climax

Egyptians Amr Shabana and Ramy Ashour will fight for the $172,500 HH Sheikh Saad Abdullah Al-Sabah Trophy, The Patriarch Amir, Kuwait Open title after reaching the PSA Super Series squash event's final for the fourth successive year.

The opening match on the penultimate day of the eighth PSA Super Series event of the year at Green Island saw third seed Shabana, winner of the World Open title on the same court almost 12 months ago, take on career-long French rival Gregory Gaultier, the fifth seed.

In a match he later described as "probably the hardest I ever played in my life", Shabana won a closely-contested first game, in which the Frenchman saved one game-ball.

It seemed clear that the unusually hot conditions began to take its toll on Gaultier in the second game - and, after taking a three-minute injury break midway through the third game, the Frenchman shook hands with Shabana to concede the match, with score at 11-9, 11-3, 7-5.

"I think we both raised the game today, and this first game was probably the hardest I ever played in my life - and in very hot conditions as well," explained Shabana said afterwards. "Greg pushed and pushed, until he's got nothing left. He is a great athlete, that's all I can say.

"We played a very good game of squash tonight, and I hope that he will be recovering soon, because we need Greg's squash on the tour.

"I haven't played too much squash up to now, as I was recovering from an injury," continued the 31-year-old from Giza, now in his 38th Tour final. "I played a few matches in El Gouna, and now here.

"One thing I find when you are getting older, you don't have to spend that much time in training, making heavy running or gym. You've done the work for 25 years, so the only thing you need is fine tuning and going on court playing matches."

It took 82 minutes to resolve the other semi, in which England's sixth seed James Willstrop saved a match-ball in the fourth game to force a decider before Ramy Ashour went on to clinch an 11-7, 8-11, 11-9, 10-12, 11-7 victory which takes the world number one into his 30th Tour final.

"This was hard, of course - it's one of the toughest games I ever played. But tonight, with the crowd cheering me, I just couldn't let them down," said 23-year-old Ashour.

"James played perfectly - he was ready to snap every shot, every ball. He is hard to play against, you never know where he is going to put the ball."

In looking ahead to his fourth Kuwait meeting in four years with his compatriot, Ashour added: "The toughest thing about playing Shabana is that I know his game, and he knows mine. So it's all about mixing the game and changing my squash when I play against him."

Willstrop reflected on the positives of the match afterwards - particularly following his 85-minute five-game upset over fourth seed Karim Darwish in the previous round.

"I got Ramy to make mistakes, that's something. Because the last times we played, he'd been on fire, and as far as I remember, he only played one backhand nick the whole match, and that's not bad.

"I think the big match I had last night helped me relax, I mean, it was such a brutal match, I finished late, trying and sleep was a nightmare because of the adrenaline pumping. I was still up for it, of course, but not putting too much pressure on myself," added the 27-year-old world No4 from Leeds.

Willstrop Downs Darwish To Make Kuwait Semis

England's James Willstrop survived an 85-minute marathon in the quarter-finals of the $172,500 HH Sheikh Saad Abdullah Al-Sabah Trophy, The Patriarch Amir, Kuwait Open to upset Egypt's fourth seed Karim Darwish and claim an unexpected place in the last four of the eighth PSA Super Series squash event of the year at Green Island in Kuwait.

In fact, the tall Englishman has had the upper hand over former world number one Darwish since November 2006 - but the Egyptian, ranked four in the world, arrived in Kuwait full of confidence after winning last week's Super Series event in El Gouna on home soil.

Fourth seed Darwish took the opening game, but saw his sixth-seeded opponent move ahead by taking the next two games before the Egyptian came out firing in the fourth to level the match.

Neck and neck up to five-all in the decider, it was Willstrop who prevailed in the final few points to close out the match 5-11, 11-8, 11-3, 6-11, 11-6.

"It was not easy, and why should it be?" suggested Willstrop afterwards. "The man has such a trade record. It was a real battle out there, a real battle, and I'm happy to be at the better end of that.

"Yes, I did expect to win, like I do expect to win any matches really. I feel good, and I had a good week here, much better than last week - that was a bit of a disappointment. I didn't feel I was at my sharpest, but then again, that may be coming from the heat.

"Do I still want to get to number one? Yes, I'm doing everything I can to achieve it, and if I get there, fantastic, but at least, I'll know that I would have done my best," added the 27-year-old from Leeds.

Willstrop now faces his third Egyptian in the event - and will be hoping to reverse his recent three results this year against world number one Ramy Ashour.

Top seed Ashour was in blistering form as he despatched experienced seventh seed Thierry Lincou 11-4, 11-7, 11-4 in 33 minutes - the shortest match of the day.

The Frenchman, a former world number one and world champion, was in no doubt about the result: "Ramy deserves his number one status. He is hungry for every match, every tournament. His pace was just incredible tonight," said Lincou.

Ashour is one win away from reaching the Kuwait final for the fourth year in a row - and so is Amr Shabana, the compatriot who beat him in the 2008 and 2009 climaxes.

Third seed Shabana defeated fellow left-hander Peter Barker, the eighth seed from England, 11-8, 11-5, 11-5 - and will now face French rival Gregory Gaultier for a place in the 2010 final.

Gaultier, the fifth seed from Aix-en-Provence, ended the run of giant-killer Daryl Selby - beating the ninth seed, who ousted fellow Englishman and world No2 Nick Matthew the day before, 11-6, 11-2, 11-1.

"I felt that I had a great advantage on him, as I played already twice on that court, and that at some point on the match, he wouldn't see the ball as clearly as he would have wished," explained Shabana after his win. "Peter is a fighter, he won't give you anything, and I'm happy to get through 3/0."

Gaultier also recognised the significance of the effort Selby had made earlier in achieving his first ever victory over Matthew - winner of three Super Series events this year.

"We had a very hard first game, I was up 7/1, and he gave it a big push," explained the world No6. "All credit to him, as I knew he would probably struggle today after his big win yesterday.

"Sometimes, players get through phases where they lose motivation, it was the case with Daryl last week in El Gouna, and it's nice to see him playing well again yesterday."

Selby Scores 'Best Career Win' To Reach Kuwait Quarters

Daryl Selby celebrated 'the best win of my career' when he recorded his first ever victory over England team-mate Nick Matthew, the world No2, in the second round of the $172,500 HH Sheikh Saad Abdullah Al-Sabah Trophy, The Patriarch Amir, Kuwait Open - the eighth PSA Super Series squash event of the year at Green Island in Kuwait.

The world No10 from Essex, who had never previously even taken a game off his national rival, recovered from two games down to defeat Matthew, a former world No1 and the event's top seed, 9-11, 6-11, 11-7, 11-1, 11-7 in 83 minutes.

"Definitely the best win of my career," exclaimed the ninth seed said afterwards. "Nick was number one for most of the season, and with Ramy (Ashour), they are the best players in the world.

"Nick is a very good friend, and we respect each other. I give him the respect he deserves, and he gives me the respect I deserve," added the 27-year-old from Essex about the in-form Yorkshireman who won two gold medals at the Commonwealth Games earlier in the month.

"What am I going to do now? Change my flight, first of all, and try to get a good night sleep - if my room-mate Peter Barker doesn't snore too much! He's been pretty good so far!"

A shell-shocked Matthew found it difficult to explain what had happened: "I was leading 2/0, and in the third he made two errors in a row - and in my head I thought 'that's it, I've won'. And he just gave it a last push, gave it all he had.

"And it worked. Which is a good lesson of what you should never do. I had it. And I let it go.

"I'm not physically tired, it's just I don't have mentally anything to give. The game became scrappy, but normally, I can get through those scrappy stages - but today, I just couldn't.

"I'm not overly disappointed because, this year, I think it's my third loss - so I'm not doing too badly! And I really couldn't expect much. Yesterday was my first day of preparation since the Commonwealth Games. It was my biggest goal ever, and after that, I really didn't want to even look at a squash court!

"But if Delhi made it impossible for me to go for the world ranking, the world title is still possible. So there is always a silver lining, and I guess that I'll be able to rest a bit more this week.

"Maybe today, he wanted it more than me," concluded the 30-year-old from Sheffield.

Selby, now in his second Super Series quarter-final of the year, will next face Gregory Gaultier, the fifth-seeded Frenchman who beat England's Adrian Grant 11-3, 11-4, 11-6.

Meanwhile, Egyptians Amr Shabana and Ramy Ashour remain on course to meet in the Kuwait final for the fourth year in a row. Shabana, the third seed who won his fourth World Open title on the all-glass court at Green Island last year, battled for 56 minutes to overcome Australia's 16th seed Cameron Pilley 7-11, 11-5, 11-5, 11-6.

The 31-year-old former world number one will now face fellow left-hander Peter Barker, the No8 seed who needed 82 minutes to get the better of fellow Englishman Alister Walker 5-11, 11-6, 11-7, 11-6.

Ashour, the world number one who is bidding to win his third 2010 Super Series crown, also had to recover from a game behind to beat Dutchman Laurens Jan Anjema, the 11th seed, 7-11, 11-8, 11-9, 11-0.

Egyptians Take Centre Stage In Kuwait

After a day dominated by Englishmen, it was Egyptians who took centre stage on the second day of first round action in the $172,500 HH Sheikh Saad Abdullah Al-Sabah Trophy, The Patriarch Amir, Kuwait Open as Cairo-based world number one Ramy Ashour led four compatriots through to the last 16 of the eighth PSA Super Series squash event of the year at Green Island in Kuwait.

Showing no signs of the injury which caused his withdrawal midway through last week's final of the El Gouna International Open in Egypt, Ashour despatched fellow countryman Omar Mosaad 11-7, 11-5, 11-7 in 33 minutes.

"Thank God I'm still playing well, and I'm still winning," exclaimed the exuberant 23-year-old said afterwards. "But you know one thing? I'm more desperate to win than anybody at the moment. Before, I wanted to win - but not that much. But now, I really, really, want to win!"

Ashour now faces top Dutchman Laurens Jan Anjema, who also ousted an Egyptian, qualifier Omar Abdel Aziz, to reserve his place in the second round. With Dutch national coach Lucas Buit in his corner, 11th seed Anjema cruised to an 11-6, 11-5, 11-5 victory over the 27-year-old from Cairo.

"I think I hardly did anything wrong today. Last week, I lost in the first round, and some things I've been working with Lucas didn't work too well. It was an upset really, but I learned a lot from it," explained the world No11 from The Hague.

"Today was a good example of how I can play, of how I should play all the time. And, sorry for the cliché, but it's really great to win your first round match - and to do it 3/0. It will give me the confidence for the rest of the year."

Karim Darwish, the world No5 from Egypt who won the El Gouna Super Series event, also survived his first round match - but was the only player to require more than three games to earn his second round slot.

The fourth seed from Cairo recovered from dropping the second game to beat Hungarian qualifier Mark Krajcsak 11-7, 6-11, 11-5, 11-6.

"Mark played really well tonight, he had nothing to lose," said the former world number one. "He normally runs a lot and takes the ball to the back - but tonight, he went for shots, and in the warm conditions tonight on there, it put me under a lot of pressure."

Krajcsak revealed the secret of his new form: "I've been training this summer for the first time ever away from home, and I worked for a month with Greg Gaultier, down in Aix en Provence. And that made all the difference really," explained the 26-year-old from Budapest, his country's most successful player of all time.

"I'm also much more organised with my training now. You know, I'm 26, and I've got to make it soon!

"Greg is a role model for me, and a good friend too. I hope I will keep training with him, his game is so good for me to train with. That made the difference tonight I think."

English Shine In Kuwait Open

Top seed Nick Matthew led a quintet of Englishmen through to the second round of the $172,500 HH Sheikh Saad Abdullah Al-Sabah Trophy, The Patriarch Amir, Kuwait Open - the eighth PSA Super Series event of the year at Green Island in Kuwait.

Matthew, the world No2 from Sheffield playing in his first Tour event since winning two Commonwealth Games gold medals in Delhi, faced South African Stephen Coppinger. The Cape Town-based world No45 was a last-minute replacement for the injured Australian David Palmer - and arrived in Kuwait fresh from winning the Sao Paulo Open in Brazil.

Matthew, in his first ever meeting with the South African, battled for 49 minutes to secure his 11-9, 13-11, 11-6 win.

"I watched him play numerous times and I thought I knew his game - but it's always different until you actually play against him," admitted the favourite said afterwards. "I found it hard to read his game, and he was able to break my game - all credit to him."

Matthew will now face one of his Delhi England team-mates Daryl Selby for a place in the quarter-finals. Despite playing a far-from-match-fit fellow countryman Jonathan Kemp, who was competing in his first match since undergoing hip surgery in July, ninth seed Selby was delighted with his 11-3, 11-3, 11-6 win.

"Today, I was aware of Jonathan's condition - unlucky for him, but lucky for me," said Selby, the world No10. "Still, he can hit a nick from any position, so you've always got to be on your toes.

"The Commonwealth Games were tough for me, a very exciting experience, but disappointing for me, as I set myself goals I couldn't reach. And right behind that, I had a bad week in Egypt. So at the moment, I'm trying to remember the matches that got me to the top 10 - because I truly believe that the players that reach that level deserve it. So I just try and remember how I got there."

Londoner Adrian Grant survived the toughest test to earn his place in the last 16. The left-hander, who partnered Matthew to Doubles gold in Delhi, was stretched to the limit by qualifier Nicolas Mueller before beating the rising Swiss star 5-11, 11-9, 11-8, 4-11, 11-8 in 85 minutes.

Another quarter-final place is reserved for an Englishman after Londoner Peter Barker, the eighth seed, beat Spanish qualifier Borja Golan 11-6, 7-11, 11-3, 11-7, and 15th seed Alister Walker overcame experienced Finn Olli Tuominen 11-4, 11-7, 11-5.

Egypt's Amr Shabana reproduced the form that won him a fourth World Open title on the same court 12 months ago when he beat tough Australian Stewart Boswell. Despite this being the 14th year that both have competed on the PSA Tour, this was only their fourth meeting, since their first in 2002!

Third seed Shabana recovered from a game down to beat the former world No4 7-11, 11-8, 11-7, 11-6 in 58 minutes.

"In the first game, Boswell came out firing, taking the ball so early, and he kept in front of me on the T," explained the former world number one from Cairo. "He can hit the ball better than anybody else really, hits it sharper than anybody else, I feel.

"You know, when you are playing well, it's easy to stay up there, mentally. I know I'm playing well at the moment, but I know there is still better that I can produce."

Preview
Kuwait Open Begins Countdown To World Series Finals Places

The countdown for places in next year's ATCO PSA World Series Squash Finals begins this week in Kuwait where the $172,500 HH Sheikh Saad Abdullah Al-Sabah Trophy, The Patriarch Amir, Kuwait Open, the eighth of ten 2010 PSA Super Series events gets underway.

With title triumphs in the Hong Kong Open and British Grand Prix - and final appearances in all but one of the seven Super Series championships already this year - Egypt's world number one Ramy Ashour heads the Super Series rankings by a massive 125 points.

Only the top eight players, with points accumulated from this year's Super Series events, will qualify for the ATCO PSA World Series Finals at The Queen's Club in London from 11-15 January 2011.

England's Nick Matthew - who chose not to play in last week's El Gouna International Open in Egypt after competing in the Commonwealth Games in Delhi, where he won two gold medals - is in second place in the latest list after winning titles at the North American Open, the Australian Open, and the Sky Open in Egypt.

As the top two seeds in Kuwait, Ashour and Matthew are expected to meet in next Tuesday's final at Green Island.

Third-placed Englishman James Willstrop, winner of the opening Super Series event of the year at the Tournament of Champions in New York; fourth-placed Egyptian Karim Darwish, the El Gouna champion; and France's fifth-placed Gregory Gaultier, a two-time World Series Finals champion, can feel reasonably comfortable with their positions in the Super Series rankings.

But Tour veterans Thierry Lincou, Amr Shabana and David Palmer will not feel entirely safe in their current positions in the top eight. Frenchman Lincou, looking to make his ninth World Series Finals appearance next year, shares sixth place with Egypt's reigning World Open champion Amr Shabana - while Palmer, the 2002 World Series champion, is only five points ahead of Peter Barker, the ninth-placed Englishman eager to make his World Series Finals debut.

 

(Prev) Points

1

1

Ramy Ashour (EGY)

500

2

2

Nick Matthew (ENG)

375

3

3

James Willstrop (ENG)

320

4

5

Karim Darwish (EGY)

285

5

4

Gregory Gaultier (FRA)

260

6=

6

Amr Shabana (EGY)

180

6=

7

Thierry Lincou (FRA)

180

8

8

David Palmer (AUS)

125

9

9

Peter Barker (ENG)

120

10

10

Wael El Hindi (EGY)

105

11

11

Alister Walker (ENG)

95

12

12

Adrian Grant (ENG)

80

 

 

World's Top Players Plan Latest Kuwait Open Title Bid

With more than half of the top ten seeds in the 2010 HH Sheikh Saad Abdullah Al-Sabah Trophy, The Patriarch Amir, Kuwait Open having held the world number one ranking in their careers, the $172,500 PSA Super Series squash event due to take place on from 28 October to 2 November promises to be one of the most competitive ever seen in the country.

The 2010 Kuwait Open, the eighth Super Series event of the year, provides the climax of the first year of a three-year agreement between Sheikha Fadia Al-Sabah of Kuwait and the Professional Squash Association which guarantees nine PSA World Tour events in the Middle East country over the period.

The Kuwait Open has been a leading annual event on the PSA Tour since first backed by Sheikha Fadia Al-Sabah in 2004 - and will continue to be a popular Middle East stop-off on the Tour's flagship PSA Super Series.

Under Sheikha Fadia's guidance, Kuwait hosted the 2009 Men's World Open - a star-studded championship which was staged at the Green Island Resort and boasted a world record $277,500 prize-fund.

England's Nick Matthew is seeded to win his fourth Super Series event of the year at the Kuwait Open. The world No2 from Sheffield will face Cameron Pilley, the Australian No2, in the opening round - and is expected to line up against second seedRamy Ashour, the Egyptian who succeeded him as world No1 this month, in the final.

But the draw predicts that Matthew may have first to overcome distinguished EgyptianAmr Shabana in the semi-finals. The 31-year-old from Cairo won his fourth World Open title last year in Green Island, and was the previous year's Kuwait Openchampion.

Indeed in both cases Shabana defeated Ashour in the finals - and lost out to his younger compatriot in the 2007 final!

Rising star Abdullah Almezayen single-handedly represents local interest in the championship. The 22-year-old left-hander faces a tough first round opponent in fifth-seeded Frenchman Gregory Gaultier.