James Willstrop moves into top four after US Open renaissance
By NATHAN CLARKE
After securing the 2016 Delaware Investments U.S. Open title yesterday courtesy of a superb 3-1 win over World No.1 Nour El Sherbini, France’s Camille Serme has stormed to the top of the 2016-17 PSA Road To Dubai Standings to sit alongside World No.4 Nouran Gohar at the summit on 125 points.
It was 19-year-old Gohar who won the first PSA World Series tournament of the season – August’s Hong Kong Open – but this week in Philadelphia it was an inspired Serme, who beat the World No.2, No.6 and No.1 to claim the spoils, who took the maximum 100 points on offer to get within touching distance of confirming a spot at the 2017 PSA Dubai World Series Finals.
Only the top eight players on the standings will qualify for a coveted place at the PSA Dubai World Series Finals – which will take place inside the Dubai Opera House from June 5-9, 2017 – with every match in the PSA World Series vital in determining who gets a shot at one of the sport’s most prestigious and financially rewarding titles.
“I made it to Dubai last year and it was an amazing experience and one that I’d really like to have again,” said 27-year-old Serme.
“It’s certainly an aim for me this season to qualify once again because I think it will be a fantastic tournament. I wasn’t really thinking about it before the US Open but I now have a very good chance of qualifying, so I’m very excited to hopefully keep playing well.”
Serme and Gohar hold a narrow 20 point advantage over El Sherbini and USA’s Amanda Sobhy at the top of the standings, with Nicol David (65), Raneem El Welily (55), Laura Massaro (50) and Nour El Tayeb (40) completing the top eight as it stands while in the Men’s Standings US Open winner and World No.1 Mohamed ElShorbagy has gone top.
ElShorbagy sits on 115 points, above compatriots Karim Abdel Gawad (105) and Ramy Ashour (100) with English duo Nick Matthew and James Willstrop joint fourth on 65 points.
Matthew secured a place in the top eight last season but former World No.1 Willstrop finished a disappointing 25th on the standings after struggling with injury. But the 33-year-old has returned to form so far this season, reaching the quarter-finals in Hong Kong and bowing out to ElShorbagy in the last four this week, to move into a solid position.
“Even at this early stage the opportunity to qualify for the World Series Finals is in my mind,” said Willstrop.
“I heard so many good things about the tournament this year and there’s so much positivity around it. Being on that stage as a top eight player and competing in that event is a very prestigious thing – so the motivation to try and qualify is great.
“To make it would be a great achievement at this stage of my career. I’ve already made a few top eight finishes this season, so I’m hugely motivated to try and keep progressing.”
Hong Kong’s Max Lee (55), Australian Ryan Cuskelly (50) and Germany’s Simon Rösner (40) round out the top eight.
The journey towards the PSA Dubai World Series Finals continues on November 13 when the 2016 Qatar Classic gets underway in Doha.
The 2017 PSA Dubai World Series Finals will take place from June 5-9 at the Dubai Opera, further information can be found by visiting www.worldseriesfinals.com
Pictures by STEVE LINE (www.squashpics.com) courtesy of PSA