First round fireworks in Battle of the Bay
By NATHAN CLARKE
One of the most intense grudges in squash history will be rekindled this September during the opening round of the 2015 NetSuite Open, PSA Men’s 100 tournament, when three-time World Champion Nick Matthew will lock horns will long-term domestic rival James Willstrop for the first time since the final of the 2014 Commonwealth Games in what promises to be a blistering encounter.
The duo, separated by just three years in age and thirty miles geographically in their home county of Yorkshire, have maintained an acrimonious relationship since first clashing in 2001 with Willstrop going as far as citing his rival as ‘pretentious and vicious’ during a 15-year rivalry that has produced some of the most memorable matches in the history of squash.
Fans in San Francisco will be hoping to witness the latest installment of their epic saga when they meet in a mouthwatering first round match-up and with both men holding the World No.1 ranking in recent years they are certain to deliver a high-quality encounter.
“The draw for this year’s NetSuite Open is the strongest in the tournament’s history and nowhere is that more epitomised than in a first round clash between two of the greatest players we’ve seen in recent years in the form of Nick and James,” said NetSuite Open promoter John Nimick.
“The English pair have lit up squash courts around the world with gruelling and compelling battles and squash fans on the West Coast are in for a real treat when these two meet again here because neither man will give an inch to the other.
“With such a high-class encounter headlining the opening day and with a plethora of other recent world number ones seeded to clash throughout the event, I believe we’re in for a special tournament in September.”
Such a challenging opening encounter will make Matthew’s task of living up to his number one seeding a daunting one while his main title contenders such as current World Champion Ramy Ashour and defending NetSuite title holder Gregory Gaultier will begin their campaigns against yet-to-be-confirmed qualifiers.
Both men will be hoping to avoid drawing unpredictably talented Egyptian shot-maker Mazen Hesham, the 24-year-old who tops the qualification draw, while World Junior Champion Diego Elias, who won silver during the recent PanAmerican Games, will also be a name to watch during the qualification campaign.
2015 NetSuite Open PSA M100 – First Round Draw:
 Nick Matthew (ENG) v James Willstrop (ENG)
[WC] Mike Lewis (USA) v  Simon Rösner (GER)
 Peter Barker (ENG) v Cameron Pilley (AUS)
[Qualifier] v  Miguel Angel Rodriguez (COL)
 Ramy Ashour (EGY) v [Qualifier]
[Qualifier] v  Mathieu Castagnet (FRA)
 Amr Shabana (EGY) v Nicolas Mueller (SUI)
[Qualifier] v  Gregory Gaultier (FRA)
Qualification Entry List:
Mazen Hesham (EGY)
Alister Walker (BOT)
Tom Richards (ENG)
Cesar Salazar (MEX)
Gregoire Marche (FRA)
Alan Clyne (SCO)
Laurens Jan Anjema (NED)
Ryan Cuskelly (AUS)
Adrian Grant (ENG)
Ali Farag (EGY)
Diego Elias (PER)
Raphael Kandra (GER)
Charlie Johnson (ENG)
Gabriel Morgan (USA)
Julian Illingworth (USA)
Chris Hanson (USA)
The 2015 NetSuite Open takes place at Justin Herman Plaza, San Francisco, with tickets for the tournament priced from $40 and available to purchase by visiting http://netsuiteopensquash.tix.com