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English Hopes High In London World Series Finals

A trio of Englishmen promise strong home hopes in London next month at the ATCO PSA World Series Finals, the flagship PSA World Tour squash event which features the eight players who have earned the most points from the nine PSA World Series championships in 2011.

The $110,000 event will take place for the third time at The Queen's Club, from 4-8 January 2012.

James Willstrop secured an outstanding victory over Frenchman Gregory Gaultier at last week's Punj Lloyd PSA Masters, the final World Series event of the year in the Indian capital New Delhi - thus moving ahead of fellow Yorkshireman Nick Matthew both in the World Series Standings and in next month's world rankings.

Willstrop, the top seed from Leeds, will be making his seventh appearance in the event since 2005 - and could face England team-mate Matthew, the No2 seed from Sheffield, in Sunday's final.

It would be the pair's first clash since Matthew slipped behind his rival in the rankings - with Willstrop looking for his first victory for more than four years.

In his fifth appearance in the event last year, Matthew reached the final for the first time. But the match against Egypt's four-time world champion Amr Shabana was not played, due to problems with the court.

Shabana, twice a finalist since making his first World Series Finals appearance in 2004, is the event's sixth seed - behind fellow countrymen Ramy Ashour, the 2007 champion, and Karim Darwish, the third and fifth seeds, respectively.

But Gaultier has a distinguished World Series Finals record. The 28-year-old from Aix-en-Provence, seeded four, has reached the final in all his three appearances in the event, winning the title in 2008 and 2009.

England's Peter Barker, who made his debut last year, will be providing London interest in the event. At least a quarter-finalist in all nine World Series events this year, the left-hander is the No7 seed.

And Mohd Azlan Iskandar will be only the second Malaysian ever to appear in the event. The 29-year-old from Kuala Lumpur has enjoyed his best run on the PSA Tour for some years and will celebrate his debut in the event after finishing in eighth place in the standings.

Players will compete in two pools of four, leading to semi-finals between the winners of each pool and the runners-up of the other, followed by the final.

Group 1: James Willstrop (England), Ramy Ashour (Egypt), Karim Darwish (Egypt), Mohd Azlan Iskandar (Malaysia)

Group 2: Nick Matthew (England), Gregory Gaultier (France), Amr Shabana (Egypt), Peter Barker (England)

Wednesday 4 January 2012 draw:
Group 1 - Ramy Ashour v Mohd Azlan Iskandar
Group 1 - James Willstrop v Karim Darwish
Group 2 - Nick Matthew v Gregory Gaultier
Group 2 - Amr Shabana v
Peter Barker

Thursday 5 January 2012
Group 1 - Karim Darwish v Mohd Azlan Iskandar
Group 1 - James Willstrop v Ramy Ashour
Group 2 - Nick Matthew v Amr Shabana
Group 2 - Gregory Gaultier v
Peter Barker

Friday 6 January 2012
Group 1 - James Willstrop v Mohd Azlan Iskandar
Group 1 - Ramy Ashour v Karim Darwish
Group 2 - Nick Matthew v Peter Barker
Group 2 - Gregory Gaultier v
Amr Shabana

Saturday 7 January 2012
Semi Finals
Group 1 Winner v Group 2 Runner Up
Group 1 Runner up v Group 2 Winner

Sunday 8 January 2012

More details on the event available at: www.worldseriesfinals.com