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06/11/2011
WORLD OPEN 2011 (Men)
 

Matthew Still The Champion

Reports
Qualifying                    Preview

  Final    Semi Finals    Quarter Finals     Round 3     2nd Round
     1st Round      

click on images for larger view

Draw

click on images for larger view

Final

Matthew Still The Champion

It took a little over three times as long as the women's final, but Nick Matthew retained his World Open title with a scintillating performance in front of a packed crowd at the Luxor Theatre. 
 
Gregory Gaultier, playing in his third final, pulled away to take a tough first game, but Matthew took an equally tough second, then pulled clear at the end of the third after the Frenchman took a small injury break after a mid-court collision.
 
The defending champion made a strong start to the fourth, and at 6/1 it looked as is the end might come quickly, but Gaultier, invoking the crowd to help, started on a comeback that was cut short at 6/4 by a couple of errors.
 
Once Matthew had re-established the lead he closed the match out and raised his arms in triumph ... still the World Champion.

"Even though I lost the first I knew that I was not playing badly," said Matthew, "not doing anything wrong in particular, but that he was just playing better than me.
 
"I stuck in, stuck in, stuck in, and just started to attack a little bit. I got a finger in the door, and then my body through, and saw a chink of light and went for it.

"When I won today, it was pure joy, and pure relief. I feel for him, he’s been in three finals now, but hopefully he’ll will after I’m gone!!!!

 

Men's Draw
World Open Squash 2011
Round One
30/31 Oct
Round Two
01 Nov
Round Three
02/03 Nov
Quarters
04 Nov
Semis
05 Nov
Final
06 Nov
[1] Nick Matthew (Eng)
11-8, 11-1, 11-3 (35m)
[Q] Stephane Galifi (Ita)
Nick Matthew
 11/4, 11/9, 11/4 (47m)
Tarek Momen
Nick Matthew
8-11, 11-5, 11-9, 5-11, 11-1 (100m)
Mohamed El Shorbagy
Nick Matthew
6-11, 11-8, 11-8, 11-5 (71m)
Peter Barker
Nick Matthew
11-9, 11-9, 11-1 (53m)
Karim Darwish
Nick Matthew
6/11, 11/9, 11/6, 11/5 (92m)
Gregory Gaultier
Tom Richards (Eng)
11-9, 8-11, 11-1, 11-5 (53m)
Tarek Momen (Egy)
Simon Rosner (Ger)
12-10, 11-6, 11-3 (40m)
[Q] Clinton Leeuw (Rsa)
Simon Rosner
 12/10, 11/7, 12/10 (49m)
Mohamed El Shorbagy
[9] Mohamed El Shorbagy (Egy)
12-10, 11-8, 7-11, 11-6 (36m)
Jon Kemp (Eng)
[16] Cameron Pilley (Aus)
11-2, 11-3, 11-8 (32m)
[Q] Raphael Kandra (Ger)
 Cameron Pilley
11/9, 11/3, 11/5 (46m)
 Chris Ryder
 Cameron Pilley
11-7, 12-10, 11-4 (88m)
Peter Barker

Olli Tuominen (Fin)
8-11, 11-4, 11-4, 11-4 (55m)
Chris Ryder (Eng)

Steve Coppinger (Rsa)
11-1, 12-10, 11-8 (46m)
Chris Simpson (Eng)
Steve Coppinger
9/11, 11/5, 11/4, 11/8 (57m)
Peter Barker
[7] Peter Barker (Eng)
11-4, 11-1, 11-4 (17m)
Aaron Frankcomb (Aus)
[8] David Palmer (Aus)
11-7, 11-6, 6-11, 4-11, 11-8 (90m)
Alan Clyne (Sco)
David Palmer
11/6, 11/13, 11/5, 11/5 (70m)
Ryan Cuskelly
David Palmer
11-9, 3-11, 11-8, 6-11, 11-9 (96m)
Thierry Lincou
David Palmer
11-9, 11-7, 11-1 (42m)
Karim Darwish
Ryan Cuskelly (Aus)
11-5, 11-7, 11-5 (48m)
Joey Barrington (Eng)
Nafiizwan Adnan (Mas)
11-3, 11-6, 11-4 (46m)
Stewart Boswell (Aus)
Stewart Boswell
 11/5, 8/11, 11/7, 11/7 (66m)
 Thierry Lincou
[Q] Shawn Delierre (Can)
13-11, 4-11, 11-3, 4-11, 15-13 (98m)
[10] Thierry Lincou (Fra)

[Q] Omar Abdel Meguid (Egy)
14-12, 12-10, 9-11, 11-9 (59m)
[14] Omar Mosaad (Egy)

Omar Mosaad
 6/11, 11/7, 11/8, 11/7 (76m)
Borja Golan
Borja Golan
11-9, 11-7, 11-1 (31m)
Karim Darwish
Julian Illingworth (Usa)
11-3, 11-6, 9-11, 11-3 (59m)
Borja Golan (Esp)
Wael El Hindi (Egy)
6-11, 11-7, 11-3, 11-1 (35m)
Arturo Salazar (Mex)
Wael El Hindi
11/9, 11/3, 11/4 (52m)
 
[3] Karim Darwish (Egy)
11-4, 11-1, 11-2 (21m)
[Q] Henrik Mustonen (Fin)
[Q] Max Lee (Hkg)
11-8, 11-6, 11-7 (33m)
[4] James Willstrop (Eng)
James Willstrop
11/1, 4/1 (13m)
Shahier Razik
James Willstrop
11-8, 11-3, 11-0 (30m)
Marwan El Shorbagy
James Willstrop
11-8, 11-2, 11-13, 11-1 (59m)
Amr Shabana

James Willstrop
11-6, 11-8, 11-4 (64m)
Gregory Gaultier

[Q] Joe Lee (Eng)
11-5, 11-9, 6-11, 11-6 (65m)
Shahier Razik (Can)
[Q] Marwan El Shorbagy (Egy)
11-6, 11-8 ret. (28m)
Farhan Mehboob (Pak)
Marwan El Shorbagy
 11/8, 11/7, 4/11, 4/11, 14/12 (94m)
Daryl Selby
[Q] Adrian Waller (Eng)
11-2, 13-11, 11-7 (48m)
[11] Daryl Selby (Eng)
[Q] Zac Alexander (Aus)
11-6, 13-11, 11-6 (36m)
[15] Hisham Ashour (Egy)
Hisham Ashour
 11/3, 11/8, 16/14 (38m)
Martin Knight

Hisham Ashour
3-11, 8-11, 11-4, 11-9, 11-5 (48m)
Amr Shabana

Martin Knight (Nzl)
3-11, 4-11, 11-8, 11-8, 11-8 (94m)
Jan Koukal (Cze)
Karim Abdel Gawad (Egy)
12-10, 11-9, 11-5 (34m)
Aamir Atlas Khan (Pak)
Karim Abdel Gawad
 5/11, 11/8, 11/5, 11/9 (50m)
 
[Q] Eric Galvez (Mex)
11-8, 11-6, 11-6 (32m)
[5] Amr Shabana (Egy)
Dylan Bennett (Ned)
11-4, 11-3, 11-6 (29m)
[6] Gregory Gaultier (Fra)
Gregory Gaultier
 11/3, 11/9, 11/5 (49m)
Cesar Salazar
Gregory Gaultier
8-11, 5-11, 11-5, 11-2, 11-7 (97m)
Laurens Jan Anjema
Gregory Gaultier
11-8, 11-1, 1-0 ret. (24m)
Ramy Ashour
Adrian Grant (Eng)
8-11, 11-3, 11-5, 8-11, 11-5 (68m)
[Q] Cesar Salazar (Mex)
[Q] Davide Bianchetti (Ita)
11-5, 14-12 (Disq.) (35m)
Saurav Ghosal (Ind)
Saurav Ghosal
 11/4, 9/11, 11/6, 11/5 (65m)
 
[Q] Grégoire Marche (Fra)
11-4, 10-12, 11-7, 13-11 (84m)
[12] Laurens Jan Anjema (Ned)
Ong Beng Hee (Mas)
11-5, 11-8, 11-8 (50m)
[13] Azlan Iskandar (Mas)
Azlan Iskandar
10/12, 11/8, 11/7, 11/5 (68m)
Alister Walker  
Alister Walker
8-11, 3-11, 11-6, 11-9, 11-3 (69m)
Ramy Ashour
Omar Abdel Aziz (Egy)
11-5, 11-8, 11-8 (50m)
Alister Walker (Bot)
Ali Anwar Reda (Egy)
11-5, 11-9, 4-11, 11-3 (49m)
Nicolas Mueller (Sui)
Nicolas Mueller
8/11, 9/11, 11/3, 11/8, 11/5 (60m)
Ramy Ashour
[Q] Alex Grayson (Nzl)
11-9, 14-12, 11-5 (40m)
[2] Ramy Ashour (Egy)

Qualifying finals:
 
Stephane Galifi (ITA) bt Dick Lau (HKG) 12-10, 4-11, 11-2, 8-11, 11-2 (69m)
Eric Galvez (MEX) bt Kristian Frost Olesen (DEN) 11-3, 11-9, 11-9 (56m)
Max Lee (HKG) bt Joel Hinds (ENG) 12-10, 11-6, 9-11, 11-8 (58m)
Zac Alexander (AUS) bt Mathieu Castagnet (FRA) 8-11, 11-8, 11-3, 11-8 (62m)
Adrian Waller (ENG) bt Shaun le Roux (RSA) 14-12, 11-5, 11-6 (52m)
Marwan El Shorbagy (EGY) bt Jens Schoor (GER) 11-6, 11-8, 11-5 (31m)
Davide Bianchetti (ITA) bt Amr Ramsy Swelim (ITA) 11-8, 11-5, 2-11, 14-12 (62m)
Shawn Delierre (CAN) bt Siddharth Suchde (IND) 11-7, 11-8, 11-8 (68m)
Gregoire Marche (FRA) bt Matthew Karwalski (AUS) 11-9, 11-6, 8-11, 11-2 (56m)
Campbell Grayson (NZL) bt Wade Johnstone (AUS) 11-6, 11-6, 11-7 (40m)
Clinton Leeuw (! RSA) bt Robbie Temple (ENG) 11-7, 9-11, 4-11, 11-5, 11-5 (76m)
Joe Lee (ENG) bt Eddie Charlton (ENG) 12-10, 4-11, 11-7, 11-6 (62m)
Cesar Salazar (MEX) bt Yann Perrin (FRA) 12-14, 11-5, 11-3, 11-6 (63m)
Raphael Kandra (GER) bt Julien Balbo (FRA) 6-11, 15-13, 11-9, 11-4 (75m)
Henrik Mustonen (FIN) bt Ivan Yuen (MAS) 11-9, 4-11, 6-11, 14-12, 11-6 (76m)
Omar Abdel Meguid (EGY) bt Steven Finitsis (AUS) 5-11, 11-5, 11-7, 12-10 (73m)


1st qualifying round:
Stephane Galifi (ITA) bt Rasool Hashim Abdullah (IRQ) w/o
Dick Lau (HKG) bt Lucas Buit (NED) 11-9, 11-8, 11-8 (48m)
Eric Galvez (MEX) bt Gabor Marges (NED) 11-7, 11-4, 11-1 (23m)
Kristian Frost Olesen (DEN) bt Aqeel Rehman (AUT) 12-10, 11-4, 11-7 (39m)
Max Lee (HKG) bt Tomas de Paauw (NED) 11-2, 11-3, 11-2 (18m)
Joel Hinds (ENG) bt Tom Lucas (NED) 11-2, 11-5, 11-2 (17m)
Zac Alexander (AUS) bt Piedro Schweertman (NED) 11-9, 10-12, 11-6, 11-8 (55m)
Mathieu Castagnet (FRA) bt Joan Lezaud (FRA) 11-4, 11-1, 11-1 (30m)
Adrian Waller (ENG) bt Rick Penders (NED) 11-6, 13-15, 11-2, 11-5 (39m)
Shaun le Roux (RSA) bt Marc ter Sluis (NED) w/o
Jens Schoor (GER) bt Stephen Cooke (NED) 10-12, 11-3, 11-8, 4-11, 11-7 (57m)
Marw! an El Shorbagy (EGY) bt Rene Mijs (NED) 11-5, 11-5, 11-8 (29m)
Davide Bianchetti (ITA) bt Kim Are Killingberg (NOR) 11-2, 11-3, 11-4 (23m)
Amr Ramsy Swelim (ITA) bt Kashif Shuja (NZL) 12-10, 11-5, 11-5 (32m)
Siddharth Suchde (IND) bt Sander van Tour (NED) 11-2, 11-5, 11-3 (19m)
Shawn Delierre (CAN) bt Michael Ernst (NED) 11-3, 11-5, 11-8 (25m)
Gregoire Marche (FRA) bt Charles Sharpes (ENG) 5-11, 11-9, 11-6, 11-3 (51m)
Matthew Karwalski (AUS) bt Fabien Verseille (FRA) 11-6, 7-11, 13-11, 11-4 (45m)
Wade Johnstone (AUS) bt Neeraj Aggarwal (AUS) 11-7, 11-7, 11-6 (24m)
Campbell Grayson (NZL) bt Andre Haschker (GER) 12-14, 11-8, 11-8, 11-6 (75m)
Robbie Temple (ENG) bt Joe Chapman (IVB) 11-5, 11-6, 11-3 (27m)
Clinton Leeuw (RSA) bt Guido Ploem (NED) 11-5, 11-5, 11-4 (17m)
Eddie Charlton (E! NG) bt Christopher Gordon (USA) 11-8, 11-9, 11-7 (47m)
Joe Lee (ENG) bt Roshan Bharos (NED) 11-3, 11-2, 11-1 (22m)
Cesar Salazar (MEX) bt Mazen Gamal (EGY) 11-5, 11-4, 11-6 (27m)
Yann Perrin (FRA) bt Lewis Walters (ENG) 11-4, 9-11, 12-10, 11-7 (58m)
Raphael Kandra (GER) bt Leo Au (HKG) 11-8, 11-6, 11-7 (32m)
Julien Balbo (FRA) bt Frank Hartkoren (NED) 11-6, 11-5, 11-2 (31m)
Henrik Mustonen (FIN) bt Reiko Peter (SUI) 12-10, 11-7, 11-5 (26m)
Ivan Yuen (MAS) bt Sebastian Weenink (NED) 11-6, 11-9, 7-11, 11-13, 11-4 (63m)
Omar Abdel Meguid (EGY) bt Bart Ravelli (NED) 11-7, 11-4, 11-7 (36m)
Steven Finitsis (AUS) bt Mark Krajcsak (HUN) 8-11, 11-8, 11-7, 11-6 (51m)

Semi Finals

Champion Matthew & Gaultier To Contest World Final

England's Nick Matthew and Frenchman Gregory Gaultier will contest the PSA World Open final after surviving straight games semi-finals today at the New Luxor Theatre in Rotterdam.

Title-holder Matthew, who is hoping to become the first man in 15 years to successfully defend the title, beat Egypt's third seed Karim Darwish 11-9, 11-9, 11-1 - while sixth Gautier, the runner-up in 2006 and 2007, put paid to an all-English final by beating James Willstrop 11-6, 11-8, 11-4 and is now bidding to make it third time lucky on Sunday.

It was neck and neck in the first two games of the first semi - with Matthew edging both games before overwhelming the 30-year-old from Cairo in the third to reach the final for the second year in a row.

"The first two games were crucial," explained Darwish said afterwards. "We were point for point the whole game, but he managed to win the crucial points, playing extremely well at the end of each game."

It was a blow for the Egyptian, who had reached the final without dropping a single game - while Matthew had been stretched the full distance in the last 16 round and to four games in the quarter-finals.

The Englishman was delighted with the way the match panned out: "Getting through in three is obviously a massive bonus. We know Karim can come back from those situations - he's beaten me from two love down before.

"When you have two close games like that, it's massively important to keep momentum. I knew that if I had a good start in the third it would be a very long way back for him.

"The crowd were amazing today," added the 31-year-old from Sheffield. "There wasn't a home player as such, but they seem to get behind squash as a sport. Hopefully the final will live up to the expectations and I look forward to playing in it tomorrow."

The success marks the 46th PSA World Tour final of Matthew's career - and his 11th since winning the 2010 World Open crown in Saudi Arabia last December.

Hopes of a repeat of last year's Matthew/Willstrop final were dashed when Gaultier repeated his victory over the Yorkshireman in last month's Qatar Classic final - but unlike that match, which went to four games, this was wrapped up in three.

But the Frenchman was full of praise for Willstrop - with whom he shared a 6/6 head-to-head record before the match: "We've been playing each other since we were kids. Our generation had a lot of strong players Thierry, James, Nick - it's nice to still compete with all these players.

"It was a bit of a fight in the first game, but then I think we both relaxed," Gaultier (left) continued. "I don't think either of us wanted to be too aggressive on court. He's not like that at all and I don't think I'm too like that either!

"It was nice to play from the second game. It was a much better game and I tried a lot more and so we relaxed a lot and he chose a better game I think. So we gave 100% in this semi-final stage of the World Open.

"This week I took it match per match. I've felt very relaxed on court and haven't been thinking about the title. It's not over yet so I'm just going to try and relax tonight and my physio can get to work. I'll try to do my best tomorrow. I wish him luck, but I also wish myself a lot of luck!"

Gaultier's win marks up his 42nd Tour final appearance.
 

Round 3

Quarter Finals

Ramy Suffers As Gaultier Makes World Semis

Clearly in considerable pain, Egypt's former champion Ramy Ashour was forced to concede his match in today's quarter-finals of the PSA World Open to allow sixth-seeded Frenchman Gregory Gaultier through to his fourth semi-final in six years at the New Luxor Theatre in Rotterdam.

There was no hint of what was to come in a fast and attacking evenly-contested first game. To the obvious delight of the crowd, Gaultier edged ahead to go one game up. But the second was entirely different as world No2 Ashour was suddenly almost immobile on the court - with the Frenchman serving the game out in just three minutes.

It was after just a single point in the third that the visibly distressed Egyptian, seemingly suffering with a hamstring injury, signalled the end of the match with the score at 11-8, 11-1, 1-0.

Gaultier moves on to face England's James Willstrop (left) after the fourth seed made up for failing to close out two match-balls in the third game by beating Egypt's four-time world champion Amr Shabana 11-8, 11-2, 11-13, 11-1.

"To lead Shabana 2/0, you can get a little bit excited - but you don't really know where his head's at," explained the 28-year-old from Leeds afterwards. "Obviously he's been everywhere and there's nothing he hasn't done but you can't carried away. I knew that physically from 2/0 it's a massive boost.

"But massive credit to him to come out and do what he did. But I knew that if I kept pushing and pushing that I would get a few more chances.

"In Kuwait, we played in the World Open and he never relented physically at all. Everyone talks about his shots, but I think he's very underrated for the physical part of his game. If he needs to rally he will do.

"It's extremely pleasing to beat him in a big event. Everyone knows what a player he is. I'm feeling good and looking forward to the semis."

A significant moment in the history of the sport came earlier in the day when, after losing to Egyptian rival Karim Darwish, illustrious Australian David Palmer (right) confirmed his decision to retire. The 35-year-old from New South Wales, winner of the world title in 2002 and 2006, had reached his seventh quarter-final since 2002 after a gruelling 96-minute five-game victory over French rival Thierry Lincou.

But third seed Darwish was too strong, winning 11-9, 11-7, 11-1 in 42 minutes.

"He was a little bit too good today," said Palmer, whose career summary includes 27 PSA World Tour titles (including 4 British Opens) from 55 final appearances. "It was my first match on the glass unfortunately - it would have been nice to get an early match on here, just to get a feel for it. But I thought I played ok.

"I needed that first game - I needed a good start to try and create pressure. He didn't make any mistakes today either, he didn't give me anything. Every point I won I had to really earn - and I think he realised he had a good game plan against me.

"But overall I'm happy," added the winner of six Commonwealth Games medals (two silver and four bronze) over three Games. "It's a great way to finish my career and I'm happy to make another quarter final - and at 35, I don't think it's a bad effort!"

"I have no regrets in my career really. Apart from maybe a gold medal at the Commonwealth Games - that's the only thing missing. Apart from that, I'm very proud of what I've achieved. Obviously I've left a few titles out there that I could have won, but I've won a couple of close ones too so it's evened out over my career I think."

Darwish now takes on top seed Nick Matthew. But the defending champion dropped the first game to seventh seed Peter Barker before beating his England team-mate 6-11, 11-8, 11-8, 11-5 in 71 minutes.

"Pete has come on tremendously in the last year," said the 31-year-old from Sheffield. "He's been knocking on the door of the top for a while now. Maybe his injury this evening took it out of him a bit in the fourth, but we had three really tough games out there today.

"I didn't play badly in the first - he was just playing a bit better than me. He was varying the pace and his length and width were immaculate. But I came through that patch mentally and was able to change things a bit and turn the screws on him at the end of the second.

"He didn't then disappear in the third either - a year or two ago he'd have faded there, but he stuck in and showed the improvements that he's made over the last year.

"Karim's looking good - he's not dropped a game yet, I don't think, so I'll have to play better tomorrow."


 


Shabana Survives World Open Shootout

In the first of three matches in which higher-ranked players survived from two games down, four-time world champion Amr Shabana (right)prevailed against fellow Egyptian Hisham Mohamed Ashour on the opening day of PSA World Open action on an all-glass squash court at the New Luxor Theatre in Rotterdam.

Left-hander Shabana, who had never before lost to his Cairo compatriot, also came back from behind in the fourth game before triumphing 3-11, 8-11, 11-4, 11-9, 11-5 in 48 minutes to reach the quarter-finals of the premier PSA World Tour event for the ninth year in a row.

"The way things were going early on, it was very one-sided," said the relieved 32-year-old former world number one. "I was thinking at 2/0 down that there'd be a flight home for me this evening!

"The desire is still there, otherwise you're just going to lose and look bad."

In what will be their 23rd Tour meeting since 2004, Shabana will now face James Willstrop, the fourth seed from England who ended the sensational maiden World Open run of 18-year-old Marwan El Shorbagy by beating the Egyptian qualifier 11-8, 11-3, 11-0.

"I'm playing James tomorrow - he's an amazing player," continued Shabana. "We've had so many battles. I think both of us have to raise our game for the World Open and the spectators are going to be in for a treat."

Willstrop, the only player not to have dropped a game in Rotterdam, felt that the second game was really important after getting a good start: "Mentally I was good there today, I stayed focussed.

"We obviously have one less rest day than the top half, but we do get onto the glass court a bit quicker - so whichever way you look at it, there are advantages. Obviously having won like that today and not spent too much time on court, it's better to do what I have been doing.

"Had I played a longer match today, then it would have been difficult having to play tomorrow too. It's difficult because it has to be organised one way or another, but I think it's evened out quite well," explained the 28-year-old from Leeds.

"I've performed consistently so far - I'm at No3 in the world now. I don't need to convince anyone - and getting to the final last week was good. But it's about producing it on a given week, and this is the one week of the year when we're all trying to do that at the same time - and that's the great thing about the challenge at the moment."

Domestic hopes were pinned on Laurens Jan Anjema - and by the time the six-time Dutch champion had gone two games up against sixth-seeded Frenchman Gregory Gaultier, (left) a two-time world finalist, the crowd had worked itself up into a frenzy.

But after all the Dutchman's hard work, it was Gaultier who assumed control of the next two games to draw level. A good lead in the decider held the Frenchman in good stead as Anjema - urged on by the crowd - mounted a comeback.

But it was too late, and Gaultier prevailed 8-11, 5-11, 11-5, 11-2, 11-7 after 97 minutes.

"It was difficult in the beginning to make my mark on the court tonight," said world No5 Gaultier when interviewed court-side by Dutch international Vanessa Atkinson afterwards. "I was behind him and I managed to stay focussed."

The Frenchman then addressed the Dutch crowd: "And you guys chased me out so much. I'm not pleased with you all tonight, but hopefully tomorrow night you will come and cheer for me this time!

"I'm used to playing the home favourite. Last week, for example, in Qatar, when you play an Egyptian there you get the crowd against you. Maybe tomorrow I'll get some support!"

And there was more drama in the final match of the night when 2008 champion Ramy Ashour, (right) the No2 seed from Egypt, also fell two games behind - to unseeded Alister Walker, of Botswana.

But the Cairo-based 24-year-old increased the tempo to draw level, then calmed down in the decider before closing out the match 8-11, 3-11, 11-6, 11-9, 11-3 in 69 minutes.

"It was one of the toughest matches I've played for a while," admitted Ashour later. "At this stage of the year everyone's hitting the ball as good as a world No1 so you have to be prepared and you have to be on your toes.

"I could barely see the ball in the first two games, he was all over me. The pace of the game is so high and I had to keep up with him, there was no way of winning unless I kept up the momentum.

"This win has given me more confidence in my body, and in my head and I'm enjoying it so far so I hope I can keep going."

 

2nd Round

Palmer Prevails Over Lincou In World Open Thriller

In a sensational squash match between two of the great warriors of today's game, Australia's David Palmer (right) emerged victorious over Frenchman Thierry Lincou after 96 minutes to claim a place in the quarter-finals of the PSA World Open in Rotterdam.

It was a match worthy of the two former champions - both of whom recently celebrated ten unbroken years in the world's top ten. And both 35-year-olds were also making their 12th unbroken appearances in the event since 1998.

Palmer twice took the lead, but Lincou levelled and opened up an 8-5 advantage in the decider. But in a tense finish, it was Palmer who took the final few points as the crowd rose to applaud the pair.

"Thierry's the master," said Palmer after the 11-9, 3-11, 11-8, 6-11, 11-9 triumph which takes him into his seventh - but last - World Open quarter-final. "Even at 2/1 up, he just hangs in and slows the pace down. I knew I had to play faster but he just he sucks it out of you somehow. The slow game suits him, especially on this court. I knew I had to inject some pace in there but it's hard when you're tired.

"In the end I just wanted to go down swinging. I've lost the last couple of matches where I've been tentative. Being my last one, when I got back to seven-all, I just thought if it's there for taking then I'm going to go for it. To be honest it was 50/50 at the end there. I went for some shots and caught him out. He got a bit tentative near the end there I think.

"Suddenly I relaxed and he tensed up a bit and obviously there were a couple of rallies there where we're trying to clear each other. It's one of those ones where 'do you try to play it, or take the let or stroke?' and I just came out better in those situations. It could easily have gone either way though.

"But, yes, I'm very happy to get through. My recent form hasn't been great, but my goal was to come here and get to the quarters.

"It's my last Word Open tournament and I've done that now so I'm very happy. It's nice to obviously have Melinda and the girls watching. And my physio Pat with me who's been with me all my career. I've a lot of good memories from this part of the world."

The US-based Australian will now take on Egyptian rival Karim Darwish after the third seed needed only 31 minutes to see off unseeded Spaniard Borja Golan 11-9, 11-7, 11-1.

But there was more drama to come when defending champion Nick Matthew, the world number one from England, was taken to the wire by Mohamed El Shorbagy before beating the 20-year-old ninth seed from Egypt 8-11, 11-5, 11-9, 5-11, 11-1 in a 100-minute marathon.

"It's a bit of a blur right now," said the 31-year-old from England who is bidding to become the first player to defend the title for 15 years. "It was one of the toughest matches I've had in a few years. I had to fight with every last drip of energy in my body, it was incredibly tough.

"You can't give him enough credit. He was excellent and it was a brutal match, but i just managed to get a good start in the fifth match and it saw me through. The court was really warm and bouncy. We both went through patches where, I think we had drops in energy and then came back fighting - it was a very momentum based game."

The event now moves to the city's New Luxor Theatre where all matches will be played on an all-glass court. Matthew will meet England team-mate Peter Barker, who beat Cameron Pilley 11-7, 12-10, 11-4 to reduce his head-to-head deficit to the Australian to 2/3.

"I'm pleased to be off the plaster courts now and onto the glass court," continued Matthew. "The glass court is where everyone wants to play. We have the extra day off, what with being in the top half of the draw, but the bottom half get an extra game on the glass court. I know which I'd prefer to have!

"The glass court is where squash is played at the very highest level of the game. Three rounds is a lot here, so I'm glad to get through. It's almost like two separate tournaments, with two eight-man draws and then another eight-man draw following that at the New Luxor Theatre in two days time.

"I need to go away now, recover well and come out fighting because it's going to get tougher and tougher."

El Shorbagy Junior Sinks Selby In Rotterdam

World junior champion Marwan El Shorbagy, (left) at 18, the youngest player in the championships, caused the biggest upset in today's second round of the PSA World Open in Rotterdam when he overcame England's 11th seed Daryl Selby in a bitterly-contested 94-minute marathon to reach the last 16 of the premier PSA World Tour squash event of the year at Victoria Squash in the Dutch City of Sport.

Marwan, younger brother of ninth seed Mohamed El Shorbagy, took the opening two games against the world No12. But British champion Selby fought back to draw level - then move 9-6 ahead in the decider.

Both had match-balls - indeed Selby thought he had clinched victory at 11-10 - but it was teenager El Shorbagy who ultimately prevailed, winning 11-8, 11-7, 4-11, 4-11, 14-12 after 92 minutes.

"I'm so pleased to have got the result here today," said the ecstatic youngster from Alexandria. "It's a massive thing for me to get to the third round in my first World Open. I can't describe it. I feel I played very well tonight in the first two games, but my concentration maybe dropped in the next two and he got back into it.

"My brother was telling me to stay focussed and not listen to him [Daryl] as he talks a lot on court and I tried not to get distracted. I managed to get back on track and hold him off in the last game."

Marwan goes on to meet Selby's England team-mate James Willstrop, the new world No3 who took just 13 minutes to reach the last 16 after his Canadian opponent Shahier Razik retired with an ankle injury with the score standing at 11-1, 4-1.

"Making it through to play James in round three on the glass court will be amazing," continued the UK-based 18-year-old. "My preparation for the Open has been fantastic and I just want to thank everyone who's supported me and helped me get here."

Meanwhile defending champion Nick Matthew made up for his shock defeat by Tarek Momen in last month's Qatar Classic by beating the 23-year-old Egyptian 11-4, 11-9, 11-4.

"There was a little bit of nervous anticipation today as Qatar was at the forefront of my mind," admitted England's world number one afterwards. "It was the last PSA match I'd had before this week and he beat me fair and square, convincingly, so I had to go away and do some research on him and come out with a plan to beat him on this court.

"I was ready for a big match - I knew it was going to be tough. He's very hard to play and he moves like lightning. But I was ready for him, pleased and relieved to get off court with a 3/0 - but even though it's a good win, it's only one round and we're only in round three so there's still a long way to go.

"A little bit of time at home maybe helped rejuvenate me," added the 31-year-old from Sheffield. "Some extra time with my coach to get me motivated. But I'm ready now and feel that whatever happens, someone will have to work very hard to beat me."

Momen took to the court less than an hour after discovering that he had leapt into the world top 20, to a career-high 19. "I'm really pleased to have got into the top 20 in the world," said the Cairo-based Egyptian. "It's quite an achievement for me and I really hope I can keep it up. I never really think about the rankings. I don't set myself ranking targets, I just try to do my best in every tournament and the rankings just reflect your performance."

Of his match, Momen added: "I think I played well today. I made a few more errors than I wanted but overall I think I played well and Nick was just onto everything I played today. He's playing so well. He was alert because of last time. Not an impossible task, but I think i could have sneaked the second game. I'm pleased with my performance and I hope that next time I will be better."

Unseeded Spaniard Borja Golan (right) pulled off another notable upset later in the day when he beat Omar Mosaad, the 14th seed from Egypt, 6-11, 11-7, 11-8, 11-7 in 76 minutes. The 28-year-old former world No10 is fighting back after major knee surgery - and is now celebrating his first appearance in the third round.

In one of the final results of the day, unseeded Alister Walker added a further surprise name to the last 16 line-up when he recovered from a game down to upset Mohd Azlan Iskandar, the No13 seed from Malaysia, 10-12, 11-8, 11-7, 11-5.

Former England international Walker, now flying the flag of his country of birth, Botswana, will next face Ramy Ashour, the second seed. But the 2008 world champion from Egypt had a significant scare when he found himself 2/0 down to rising Swiss star Nicolas Mueller.

Ashour dug deep however and after exactly one hour clinched the 8-11, 9-11, 11-3, 11-8, 11-5 win which takes the 24-year-old from Cairo into the third round for the fourth time since 2006.

 

1st Round

Salazar Scores Major World Open Upset In Rotterdam

Mexican qualifier Cesar Salazar secured the biggest scalp so far in the PSA World Open in Rotterdam when he defeated England's world No17 Adrian Grant on today's second day of first round action in the premier PSA World Tour squash event of the year at Victoria Squash in the Dutch City of Sport.

Making his debut in the championship, the 23-year-old from San Luis Potosi recovered from a game down, then stemmed a fourth game fightback by former quarter-finalist Grant to beat the England international 8-11, 11-3, 11-5, 8-11, 11-5 in 68 minutes.

"It's my best ever win," said the jubilant Mexican. "Adrian is a good player and it's a good victory for me. I worked back in the third game and he liked to play to the back but I started to play the ball quicker to the back and he started to tire in the fourth when I got to play some quick, intense shots.

"I worked very hard before the competition and I'm very happy."

The victory was made all the more sweet as the world No59 had battled through two rounds of qualifying to make the first round where he joined his higher-ranked twin brother Arturo Salazar. But underdog Cesar has now progressed further, as Arturo was beaten in yesterday's first round action.

But the day was otherwise dominated by Egyptians - five of whom prevailed to join a further five who survived Sunday's first round action in the top half of the draw.

World junior champion Marwan El Shorbagy became the second qualifier to make the second round after his higher-ranked opponent Farhan Mehboob, the world No47 from Pakistan, retired injured after two games with the score at 11-6, 11-8 in the Egyptian teenager's favour.

"I'm very happy," said the 18-year-old from Alexandria, the youngest player in the championship. "It's only my first World Open, so reaching the second round is a very big achievement for me so far. I didn't know about his injury, I only found out in the second game when he was hitting the tin a lot from the return of serve.

"It's a shame to win this way, but I'm still very pleased as I was ahead in the match already. I've had good preparation for this tournament with my coach in England, Ian Thomas."

Marwan, whose older brother Mohamed El Shorbagy, the ninth seed, is also through to the second round, will now face England's 11th seed Daryl Selby, an 11-2, 13-11, 11-7 victor over fellow countryman Adrian Waller.

"I've not played Daryl before, but I've watched him a few times and hopefully it will be a good match," concluded El Shorbagy junior.

Cairo brothers Ramy Ashour and Hisham Mohamed Ashour will both compete in the second round for the fourth year in a row: Older sibling Hisham saw off Australian qualifier Zac Alexander 11-6, 13-11, 11-6 while second seed Ramy, the 2008 champion, battled for 40 minutes to get the better of New Zealand qualifier Campbell Grayson 11-9, 14-12, 11-5.

England's James Willstrop successfully began his bid to reach the final for the second year in a row with an 11-8, 11-6, 11-7 win in 33 minutes over Hong Kong qualifier Max Lee.

"It's a bit of a cliche, but there are dangerous players and Max is one of most dangerous qualifiers," explained Yorkshireman Willstrop, the world No4. "It's a long week - we've got six matches, so to put in a performance like that early on is great from all points of view. Not only are you relaxed and winning 3/0, you're conserving a bit of energy.

"I'm really excited about every trip I'm doing at the minute," added the 28-year-old from Leeds who was runner-up in last month's Qatar Classic. "I'm just enjoying the tour and happy to be on court. It's fantastic playing in atmospheres like this and fighting for your life in the World Open. You work hard all summer to be here so these are the experiences you have to enjoy.

"I'm feeling good so just have to dig in for the rest of the week - and win it!"

There was drama early in the evening session as Italy's Davide Bianchetti, a game behind and at 12-all in the second against India's Saurav Ghosal, argued sufficiently to get a conduct game awarded against him. Now two games down, the Italian continued to argue during the interval, and persevered with his comments to the officials as they were about to start the third, when the referee's patience ran out and the match was awarded against him.

Indian number one Ghosal will now play local hero Laurens Jan Anjema, (left) the top-ranked Dutchman who needed 84 minutes to quash French qualifier Gregoire Marche 11-4, 10-12, 11-7, 13-11.

"No, I was not surprised by Greg's performance," the relieved Dutchman said later. "I haven't had the chance to see him play a lot of matches recently, but still, I've looked at his results - he is a very good player, he trains with Greg (Gaultier), so I didn't underestimate him for a second and although I was ready for him, still, I was in trouble.

"Now, forget the fact that I'm in the tournament, that I just won, just the fact that everyone who is anyone in squash is here - every coach, every official, every squash guru is here, in Rotterdam, in Netherlands. It's the greatest feeling ever!"

Twice a World Open runner-up, France's Gregory Gaultier successfully began his bid to go further this year with an 11-4, 11-3, 11-6 victory over Dutch wildcard Dylan Bennett - and now goes on to face surprise opponent Cesar Salazar.

"The match was good," said the world No6 from Aix-en-Provence afterwards. "I played Dylan, who qualified after winning a regional competition I think, so he was a wild card. He gave me a good game.

"We spoke yesterday and he said he was going to try hard to give me a good run, and it was a really pleasant match. The World Open means a lot. It's the biggest competition of the year so all the players are really up for it. Everyone is usually really fit at this time of the season too, after competitions and training.

"But I'm not putting any pressure on myself," added the 28-year-old who won last month's Qatar Classic. "I'm just taking it match by match and hopefully it will go well. Today went well and I hope I can keep it going."

Matthew World Open Win Sets Up Momen Re-Match

Defending champion and world No1 Nick Matthew (right)eased through today's first round of the PSA World Open in Rotterdam to set up a second round clash with Tarek Momen, the Egyptian ranked outside the world top 25 who beat the Englishman in this month's Qatar Classic.

Yorkshireman Matthew recovered from 5-8 down in the first game at Victoria Squash in the Dutch City of Sport to defeat Italian qualifier Stephane Galifi 11-8, 11-1, 11-3 in 35 minutes.

"I've had a good build up to the World Open," said Matthew later. "Losing early in Qatar, although unplanned, did give me a bit more time to prepare. I've had a bit of nervous excitement in the build up to this. I've felt that edge in my training and was maybe a little too eager in the first game today. I had to settle into a rhythm, get used to the court and once I got the feet moving and was able to express myself, I felt good in my game."

Of his France-based opponent, Matthew added: "He's a wily old fox. He uses the court, slows the ball down and plays to his strengths well. He'd had a hard match yesterday and was probably more used to the court than I was at first. But once I'd got the pace up his legs weren't quite there.

"I'm pleased that we've got a good support here - my coach and physio are both here, and my parents are on their way here too. There's no reason why we can't do well. I've been here a few days and feel pretty good."

Tarek Momen, whose shock straight games second round victory in Doha ended a run of ten successive final appearances by Matthew, needed 53 minutes to beat Tom Richards 11-9, 8-11, 11-1, 11-5 - avenging his US Open defeat by the Englishman last month in Philadelphia.

"I think I played really well today," said the 23-year-old from Cairo. "We played three weeks ago and he beat me, so I'm glad I got my revenge. It's an honour to play in the World Open and it's a great marker for where your game is at this point in the season. I hope I do much better this year - last year didn't go so well, so I'm looking forward to staying in the competition for longer!"

In the opening match of the day, two-time champion David Palmer took an hour and a half to fend off the challenge of Scotland's Alan Clyne - and lead four Australians into the next round on the day.

After taking a two-game lead, the 2002 and 2006 champion found himself at eight-all in the fifth before finally clinching the match 11-7, 11-6, 6-11, 4-11, 11-8 - much to the relief of himself and his watching family.

Later Ryan Cuskelly, from New South Wales, beat England's Joey Barrington, and Canberra-born Stewart Boswell beat Malaysian Mohd Nafiizwan Adnan, both in straight games. And rounding off the day later, Australian number two Cameron Pilley blasted his way past German qualifier Raphael Kandra.

After Palmer's marathon escape, fellow former world champion Thierry Lincou also showed that there is still life in the old dog! Palmer and Frenchman Lincou share two significant achievements: Both are marking their 12th successive appearances in the World Open, and both recently celebrated ten unbroken years in the world's top ten.

Tenth seed Lincou found himself 5-0 down in the decider to Canada's Shawn Delierre. The Frenchman recovered to seven-all but had to save two match balls on his way to closing out the match 13-11, 4-11, 11-3, 4-11, 15-13 after 98 minutes.

"I was expecting a tough match - he was a bit more used to this court and this atmosphere, whereas this was my first match here," said the 35-year-old from Marseille later. "Sometimes it's tricky for the main draw players to come here and get stuck in on these courts.

"The glass side is a bit tricky. But Shawn has an unusual style and it's tricky to play against. I really had to play my best squash at points to push him into mistakes because he was really hurting me at the front. I had to keep focussed to the end.

"I'm very pleased with my win overall. I can only play better from here so I'm looking forward to the rest of the week."

Simon Rosner made sure of German interest in the second round after a 12-10, 11-6, 11-3 victory over Germany-based South African qualifier Clinton Leeuw.

"It's never easy in the first round - I'm really happy to get through in three, which means that I'm fit and ready for next match," said Rosner, the top-ranked German. "In the first game, Clinton came out firing - I didn't know where to look, he was cutting the ball out well.

"It was surprising in the first but I got into the game better and managed to take control of the match. I know his game a bit as he also lives in Germany, so we've played a couple of times before. I'm really enjoying Rotterdam - it's only a three-hour drive for me so that's a nice change to be able to drive to the tournament."

After Leeuw's loss, Stephen Coppinger made sure there would be South African interest in round two as he beat Chris Simpson 11-1, 12-10, 11-8. The 27-year-old from Cape Town now meets another Englishman in seventh seed Peter Barker, who eased past less-than-fully-fit Aussie Aaron Frankcomb 11-4, 11-1, 11-4.
 

Qualifying

Birthday Boy Kandra Makes World Open Breakthrough

German's Raphael Kandra celebrated his 21st birthday in fine style when he secured an unexpected place in the main draw of the 2011 PSA World Open in Rotterdam after beating Frenchman Julien Balbo. The Essen-based German No3 will not only make his world championship debut, but also becomes the lowest-ranked player in the premier PSA World Tour squash event at Victoria Squash in the Dutch City of Sport.

Players from 12 countries - Canada, Italy, England, Finland, Hong Kong, Mexico, France, New Zealand, Egypt, Australia, South Africa and Germany - battled through the qualifying finals to earn places in the first round of the event which will reach its final stages at the New Luxor Theatre in Rotterdam.

Kandra recovered from a game down to overcome Balbo - ranked more than 40 places higher - 6-11, 15-13, 11-9, 11-4 in 75 minutes, with the Frenchman struggling with a turned ankle in the latter stages of the encounter. The young German's reward is a first round clash with hard-hitting Australian Cameron Pilley, the No16 seed.

"Yes, my first ever World Open," a delighted Kandra said afterwards. "And as it is my birthday today, it's a good reason for cancelling the party that I had planned at home (I live not too far away from here). You can say that actually, I made my own birthday gift!"

Egypt's world junior champion Marwan El Shorbagy beat Germany's Jens Schoor in straight games to join his brother Mohamed in the main draw, where he lines up against Pakistan's Farhan Mehboob.

"Today, I played well, in particular on the volleying, was comfortable on the T," said 18-year-old Marwan - who becomes the event's youngest competitor. "But Jens is a very good player - so dangerous at the front. I had to play my best today to beat him. I think my Mum must be crying at home, as this is my first time qualifying for the Worlds."

Cesar Salazar will also join his brother in the main draw. The 23-year-old Mexican beat Frenchman Yann Perrin 12-14, 11-5, 11-3, 11-6 and will line up alongside twin Arturo Salazar after his first successful qualifying bid in his third attempt.

"For about three or four months I have felt good," explained Cesar. "I feel strong, and that my squash is getting better. I want to thank the Mexican government who understand that we need to travel to Europe to play more tournaments, and they help the top four with funding. And yes, it's my first time getting into the Worlds!"

But there was French success for Gregoire Marche after the 21-year-old's 11-9, 11-6, 8-11, 11-2 win over Australian Matthew Karwalski.

The longest match of the day, at 76 minutes, saw another first time qualifier in South Africa's Clinton Leeuw who came from 2/1 down to deny England's Robbie Temple 11-7, 9-11, 4-11, 11-5, 11-5.

Two Englishmen made it through to the main draw, as Joe Lee overcame fierce resistance from compatriot Eddie Charlton, and Adrian Waller denied South Africa a second qualifier by beating Shaun le Roux. Waller meets fellow Englishman Daryl Selby while Lee faces Canada's Shahier Razik.

In one of the last matches of the day, Finland's Henrik Mustonen fought back from 2/1 and match-ball down to overcome Malaysian Ivan Yuen 11-9, 4-11, 6-11, 14-12, 11-6. The 20-year-old Finn faces third seed Karim Darwish in a repeat of their meeting in last week's Qatar Classic.

Australia's Steven Finitsis held a substantial lead in the fourth game against Omar Abdel Meguid, but the Egyptian clawed it back to close out the match 5-11, 11-5, 11-7, 12-10. Meguid meets compatriot Omar Mosaad.

And when the draw for the qualifiers in the first round was made, it was Italian Stephane Galifi who was lined up with top seed Nick Matthew, the title-holder from England, and New Zealander Campbell Grayson who will face No2 seed Ramy Ashour, the 2008 champion from Egypt.

It will be the third time in the World Open main draw for Galifi, but the France-based 33-year-old was delighted, after his five-game victory over Hong Kong's Dick Lau: "What's at stake is enormous when we try and qualify for such a tournament. You can never be relaxed in the qualifiers, there is so much pressure. People may think it's easy, but it's not. And from the psychological point of view, it's one of the hardest things to do. He played so well, and I'm so proud to win this one."

The men's first round takes place over two days, starting on Sunday and concluding on Monday.

Finitsis Fells Krajcsak In World Qualifying Upset

Australian Steven Finitsis rounded off a packed day of qualifying action in the 2011 PSA World Open in Rotterdam when he despatched the second highest-ranked player in the draw to reach the qualifying finals of the premier PSA World Tour event at Victoria Squash in the Dutch City of Sport.

The Dutch-based Aussie, ranked more then 50 places lower than top-ranked Hungarian Mark Krajcsak, delighted the appreciative audience on Victoria's centre court with his 8-11, 11-8, 11-7, 11-6 victory in 51 minutes.

"It's a good win for me and good for my confidence," Finitsis said afterwards. "I've been training hard, but not playing many tournaments recently.

"Maybe now it's time to bite the bullet and go for some big ones," added the 28-year-old Queenslander.

Though almost all the 32 matches went according to expectations, England's Eddie Charlton removed higher-ranked US No2 Christopher Gordon 11-8, 11-9, 11-7 in another notable upset.

"I thought I had a chance today, even if ranking-wise, I was not meant to win this match," admitted Charlton, who won his first Tour title in the Czech Republic earlier this month. "Happy with a 3/0 win, especially as I didn't play as well as I have been, so, keeping fresh for tomorrow."

Italy's Amr Ramsy Swelim - who only got the nod that he was in the draw 24 hours earlier - beat Netherlands-based New Zealander Kashif Shuja 12-10, 11-5, 11-5, although the Kiwi was not at full fitness.

Raphael Kandra delighted the German camp with a fine 11-8, 11-6, 11-7 win over Hong Kong's Leo Au, winner of two Tour titles over the past four months.

"I played well," said the delighted Kandra. "I was dominating the rallies, especially in the second game, and I could see he was not comfortable, he didn't move as well as he normally does. I've been a pro for only a year, it takes time to get things in place, but I can feel that my game is getting better, week by week."

There was little joy for the home fans who were out in force supporting the local players. But all sixteen - ranging in age from 44 to 16 - failed to progress to Saturday's qualifying finals.

National coach Lucas Buit was one of the first casualties, although he made Hong Kong's Dick Lau work hard for his three-game win; Stephen Cooke - originally English - took Germany's Jens Schoor the distance; and Sebastian Weenink almost finished the night off nicely, but after coming from two game down against Malaysian Ivan Yuen his challenge tailed off in the fifth.

"It was a nice match, both first games were very close," admitted Buit, who can now concentrate on his coaching duties. "Still, from 2/0 down, it was just too hard. I think I deserved one game - but I can't complain, at 44."

 

Preview

Matthew Set To Retain World Title In Rotterdam

Defending champion Nick Matthew, the world number one from England, is expected to retain his title in next month's PSA World Open, according to the draw for the sport's most prestigious event made in Rotterdam.

The 2011 championship, featuring a stunning line-up including five former world champions and seven world number ones, will be held for the first time in Rotterdam, from 28 October to 6 November. After qualifying and early rounds at the renowned Victoria Squash club, the event will move onto an ASB all-glass court which will be erected on the podium of the New Luxor Theatre in the Dutch City of Sports.

Matthew, who became England's first ever world champion in Saudi Arabia last year, begins the defence of his title against a qualifier - and is expected to meet his first seeded opponent in the last 16 round when he faces Egypt's Mohamed El Shorbagy, the 20-year-old world No8 from Egypt in only his fourth appearance in the championship.

The 31-year-old from Sheffield's predicted quarter-final opponent is England team-mate Peter Barker, the world No7 from London. And Egyptian rival Karim Darwish, the No3 seed from Cairo, is his expected semi-final opponent before the expected clash with Egypt's world No2 Ramy Ashour in the final.

Ashour, winner of the 2008 event in England and already champion of three PSA World Series events in 2011, also begins his Rotterdam campaign against a qualifier. The 24-year-old from Cairo would expect to meet top-ranked Frenchman Gregory Gaultier in the quarter-finals, before a semi-final clash with England's James Willstrop, the fourth seed.

The field features three players competing in their 12th successive championships after making their debuts in Qatar in 1998 - though France's Thierry Lincou also first attempted to qualify 14 years ago in 1997. Like Egypt's Amr Shabana and Australian David Palmer, Lincou is both a former world number one and a former world champion, and begins his 2011 campaign against a qualifier.

Shabana is bidding to emulate Pakistani legends Jahangir Khan and Jansher Khan by becoming only the third player in history to win the title a fifth time. The 32-year-old from Cairo won the crown in 2003, 2005, 2007 and 2009. Boosted by his title triumph in this month's US Open in Philadelphia, the fifth seed begins his 2011 campaign against a qualifier.

Palmer, the 35-year-old who famously won his first of two world titles in his then home country of Belgium in 2002 after saving match-balls in the final, is seeded eight - his first opponent being Scotland's Alan Clyne.

Dutch interest will be led by Laurens Jan Anjema, the six-time national champion from The Hague who is the 12th seed. Anjema, winner of this week's new PSA International 35 NetSuite Open in the USA, will be making his eighth appearance in the event - and looking to reach the quarter-finals for the first time.

Malaysian interest in the 2011 World Open will be very much focussed in the lower half of the draw where it two leading players Mohd Azlan Iskandar, the No13 seed, and Ong Beng Hee, the former world No7, have been drawn against each other in the first round!