Article by Steve Cubbins
Heading for Philadelphia’s Drexel University for the second year, the PSA $115k and WSA $70k event is once again attracting the world’s best players with a multitude of quality top-level match ups from the first round onward to thrill and entertain the fans.
If all plays to the seedings, then to get into the semi-finals Willstrop, the world number one, would have to get past Botswana’s Alister Walker, then compatriot Daryl Selby, and Egypt’s Mohamed El Shorbagy. There he would face Frenchman Gregory Gaultier or Egyptian Karim Darwish, who are seeded #3 and #5 respectively.
In the bottom half of the draw Matthew, the World Champion, faces just as tough a route through – Omar Mosaad, Adrian Grant and then a quarter-final against defending champion Amr Shabana in a repeat of last year’s final. That would bring a semi-final against Ramy Ashour or Peter Barker, the fourth and sixth seeds.
The women’s draw has an unfamiliar look about it, with Nicol David and Jenny Duncalf drawn in the same half for the first time in three years. David has been world number one for six years. They’re seeded to meet in the semi-finals, but both would have to get past one of the Grinham sisters to get there, not to mention world junior champion Nour El Sherbini.
Duncalf has just been overtaken in the second spot by young Egyptian Raneem El Welily, who faces fast-rising Low Wee Wern in the first round, followed by a quarter-final against sixth seed Annie Au or last year’s finalist the unseeded Kasey Brown.
Waiting in the semi-finals would be defending champion Laura Massaro or Ireland’s Madeline Perry, the fourth and fifth seeds.
Qualifying takes place across a number of Philadelphia clubs before moving to the all-glass center court at Drexel University.