Hot on the heels of the ROWE British Grand Prix in Manchester comes the next PSA World Series event, the Delaware Investments US Open at Drexel University in Philadelphia, PA, and there are plenty of enticing matchups right from the outset.
Upgraded this year to one of the elite PSA World Series events with a prize fund of $115,000, the men’s tournament will see 22 of the world’s top 25 aiming to capture the prestigious US Open title, now in its 56th edition, although it has been played as a ‘softball’ event only since 1985.
Top seed is World Champion and World Number One Nick Matthew. The Englishman meets a qualifier in the first round, with an anticipated quarter-final meeting with one of Egypt’s rising stars Mohamed El Shorbagy. If all goes to plan Matthew faces a semi-final meeting with fellow-Yorkshireman and long-time rival James Willstrop, the third seed, although Willstrop, who crashed out of the British Grand Prix to fellow-Englishman Adrian Grant, may have to get past yet another Englishman, Peter Barker, who pushed Matthew close in the quarter-finals in Manchester.
The bottom half of the draw promises an all-Egyptian semi-final should former world number ones Karim Darwish and Amr Shabana fulfill their seedings. Darwish, seeded two, is likely to face Thierry Lincou along the way, and will be looking for revenge for his surprise defeat to the Frenchman, who has been in the world’s top ten for an unbroken ten years, in the World Team semi-final in Paderborn, Germany.
Shabana was missing from the Egyptian team that retained their world title, but on his return to action in Manchester showed he has lost none of his magic. With four world titles to his name, the ‘Prince of Cairo’ is seeded to face two-time world champion David Palmer, the Australian who is now resident in the US, in the quarter-finals.
Should the semi-finals turn out to be as predicted by the seedings the players will be no strangers to each other with Matthew and Willstrop having met 26 times in PSA matches over the last 10 years, plus many a domestic encounter in the British Nationals and other events, while Darwish and Shabana have competed 20 times over the same period.
Before we get to that stage, the all-glass court at Drexel’s Daskalakis Athletic Center is likely to see many dramatic matches even in the first round, in particular: Cameron Pilley versus Omar Mosaad, who both reached the quarter-finals in Manchester; Stewart Boswell versus Mohamed El Shorbagy, a former world number four and a newcomer to the top ten; Lincou against US wildcard Christopher Gordon; Ali Anwar Reda versus Miguel Angel Rodriguez, another rising Egyptian against South America’s top – and very speedy – player.
Qualifying for the eight available spots in the main draw take place on 28th and 29th September at various clubs in Philadelphia, with the main draw from 30th Sep to 6th October at Drexel University. One name to watch for in qualifying is Drexel’s own head coach and another former world number one John White, who will be playing his first PSA match since the 2009 Tournament of Champions. The hard-hitting Aussie who represented Scotland is sure to be a big draw, not least with his own college pupils, especially as he has been drawn against the top qualifying seed, India’s Saurav Ghosal.
All the best women are here
Top seed is world number one and five-time world champion Nicol David, the Malaysian Datuk who has dominated women’s squash for the past five years, holding the number one ranking uninterrupted since August 2006.
David faces New Zealand’s double Commonwealth medalist Joelle King in the first round with Australia’s Kasey Brown the likely quarter-final opponent. Favoured to come through to the semi-final is Northern Ireland’s Madeline Perry, who famously beat David in the 2009 British Open and his since risen to number three in the world. Perry is seeded for a quarter-final against France’s seventh seed Camille Serme or multiple US Champion Latasha Khan.
England’s Jenny Duncalf is seeded two, with Australia’s former junior and senior world champion Rachael Grinham seeded to meet Duncalf in the semi-finals. Grinham, though, faces Egypt’s double junior world champion Raneem El Weleily in the first round, the 20-year-old world number 12 who beat four successive top ten opponents – Laura Massaro, Serme, Perry and Duncalf – on her way to collecting the Carol Weymuller title in Brooklyn last weekend.
To underline what a tough half of the draw this has become, England’s Massaro, the fifth seed, is the only player to beat David this year, not once but twice!
The women’s qualifying competition takes place on 30th Sep and 1st Oct with the main draw from 3rd to 6th October.