Saudi International 2006
Saudi Sets Scene For Last Super Series Finals Qualifying Chances
This week's Saudi Squash International, the ninth and final PSA Super Series event of the year, provides the final opportunity for players to claim lucrative places in the 2007 Super Series Finals in London.
The Saudi International, in its second year in the Saudi Arabian city of Al Khobar, gets underway on Saturday 16 December, leading to the final on Wednesday (20 December). The second richest PSA event of the year, the Saudi International boasts a $130,000 prize-fund.
Egypt's world number one Amr Shabana heads the latest Super Series standings – compiled from points received from the eight Super Series events so far this year. Only the top eight players in the final list will qualify for the 2007 Super Series Finals.
Winner of the Hong Kong Open, PSA Masters and Tournament of Champions, Shabana is more than one thousand points ahead of second-placed David Palmer, the Australian who won the Windy City Open in Chicago at the beginning of the year, then clinched the World Open title for the second time in Egypt in September.
Frenchman Gregory Gaultier is currently in third place – and is certain to finish in the top eight and thereby make his Super Series Finals debut next year. Ramy Ashour, the Egyptian teenager who had never progressed beyond the first round of a Super Series event before this year, is in fifth place in the list – and, like compatriot Karim Darwish, is set to make his Finals debut in 2007.
However, the pair are scheduled to meet in the first round in Al Khobar – and a win by Ashour might jeopardise eighth-placed Darwish's finish in the top eight.
Defending Super Series Finals champion Anthony Ricketts will be looking for a positive performance in Saudi. The Australian is currently in ninth place in the list – and will need to reach the quarter-finals in Al Khobar to boost his chances of returning to London's Broadgate Arena.
Englishman Lee Beachill is also currently out of contention: The world No10 from Yorkshire has qualified each year since 2003 – and was runner-up to Ricketts in this year's final.
Gawain Briars, Chief Executive of the PSA, commented: "Reflecting the burgeoning condition of the PSA Tour in general and the Super Series badge in particular, we have player competition that is on a knife edge to gain the all-important Super Series ranking points to qualify for the lucrative Super Series Finals in Broadgate London next spring. The tour is currently witness to an ongoing spree of top class results whose unpredictability challenges the most experienced aficionados to pick certain winners from any rounds. The professional game is so much more exciting as a consequence."
Current Super Series Standings (after the Warid Pakistan Open, US Open, Cathay Pacific Hong Kong Open, Al-Ahram World Open, Liverpool 08 Open, Virtual Spectator Bermuda PSA Masters, Bear Stearns Tournament of Champions, and SSA Global Windy City Open):
1 Amr Shabana (EGY) 8,618.75
2 David Palmer (AUS) 7,356.25
3 Gregory Gaultier (FRA) 6,400.00
4 Thierry Lincou (FRA) 5,925.00
5 Ramy Ashour (EGY) 3,312.50
6 James Willstrop (ENG) 3,306.25
7 Nick Matthew (ENG) 3,143.75
8 Karim Darwish (EGY) 2,856.25
9 Anthony Ricketts (AUS) 2,381.25
10 Stewart Boswell (AUS) 2,225.00
11 Lee Beachill (ENG) 2,162.50
12 John White (SCO) 1,831.25
Saudi International 1st round draw:
 Amr Shabana (EGY) v Cameron Pilley (AUS)
 Alex Gough (WAL) v [Q] Laurens Jan Anjema (NED)
 Karim Darwish (EGY) v Ramy Ashour (EGY)
 Mohammed Abbas (EGY) v Peter Barker (ENG)
 James Willstrop (ENG) v Shahier Razik (CAN)
 Lee Beachill (ENG) v [Q] Joey Barrington (ENG)
 Anthony Ricketts (AUS) v [Q] Shahid Zaman (PAK)
 Olli Tuominen (FIN) v Mohammed Taher Al-Saif (KSA)
 Mohd Azlan Iskandar (MAS) v [Q] Hisham Mohd Ashour (EGY)
 Gregory Gaultier (FRA) v [Q] Simon Parke (ENG)
 Adrian Grant (ENG) v Borja Golan (ESP)
 Thierry Lincou (FRA) v Wael El Hindi (EGY)
 Stewart Boswell (AUS) v [Q] Daryl Selby (ENG)
 Nick Matthew (ENG) v [Q] Alister Walker (ENG)
 Ong Beng Hee (MAS) v [Q] Aamir Atlas Khan (PAK)
 David Palmer (AUS) v Jonathan Kemp (ENG)
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