By ALAN THATCHER
World champion Ramy Ashour has decided not to defend his US Open title in Philadelphia.
The mercurial Egyptian, who is unbeaten for the past 15 months, has asked the squash authorities and event promoters to leave bigger gaps between tournaments.
Ashour, who is top seed for the NetSuite Open in San Francisco next month, told Squash Player magazine: “I think the PSA and the promoters need to try to avoid putting on big tournaments back to back, as it makes players prone to injuries and mental burn-out.
“I will play in San Francisco (the tournament runs from September 27 to October 1) but sadly not in one of my favourite tournaments, the US Open.
“It is just before the World Championship in Manchester, and I need to rest and prepare well both physically and mentally for this.”
The US Open dates are October 9-18 and the Manchester event runs from October 27 to November 3.
US Squash announced the seeding this week for a US Open which will be sadly diminished by the absence of the Egyptian, the hottest ticket in the game.
Ashour’s absence from a top-tier PSA World Series event is a blow to all concerned. But Ramy’s concern for his fitness is understandable. He wore a protective stocking during tournaments earlier this year and has suffered major injury setbacks in the past two years.
The published total prize money on offer to PSA members is $70,000 in San Francisco (an International 70 event), $115,000 at the US Open and $325,000 at the World Championship.
The US Open is a World Series event, with two more tournaments in that category to follow before Christmas, the Qatar Classic in November and the Hong Kong Open in December. Both carry PSA prize money of $150,000.
France’s Gregory Gaultier is top seed at the Drexel University in Philadelphia, with England’s James Willstrop seeded two.
The tournament throws up the possibility of two massive domestic confrontations. Willstrop is due to meet fellow Englishman Nick Matthew at the semi-final stage, hoping to overturn a long run of defeats to his Yorkshire neighbour, the No.3 seed.
In the top half of the draw, Egyptian prestige will be at stake if No.4 seed Karim Darwish tackles No.5 seed Mohamed Elshorbagy in the quarter-finals.
American wild card Chris Gordon meets top seed Gaultier in the first round.