Egypt’s world number one is top seed in a tough-looking draw in Hull
By NATHAN CLARKE
After adding his name to the illustrious list of Allam British Open title winners in 2015 by downing current World Champion Gregory Gaultier in a thrilling five-game final, 25-year-old Egyptian World No.1 Mohamed Elshorbagy returns to the Airco Arena, Hull next week as favourite to successfully defend his crown in what is a mouthwatering men’s draw.
Elshorbagy joined the likes of squash legends Jonah Barrington, Geoff Hunt, Jahangir Khan and Jansher Khan on the ‘Wimbledon of Squash’ winners’ list with his 94-minute, 11-9, 6-11, 5-11, 11-8, 11-5, win last year.
But he knows he will have to be at his very best in order to fulfil his hopes of becoming a two-time champion as he heads what promises to be one of the most competitive British Open competitions in recent memory.
Elshorbagy has taken the title at four of five PSA World Series tournaments so far during the 2015-16 season and will begin his British Open campaign against a qualifier on March 22 .
The top half of a draw also features World No.4 Omar Mosaad, former World No.1 James Willstrop, World No.6 Miguel Angel Rodriguez, recent Canary Wharf Classic winner Mathieu Castagnet, and Marwan Elshorbagy, Mohamed’s younger brother and the current world No.10.
The opposite side of the draw sees the top home hope Nick Matthew, the number three seed who will be competing on home soil in his native Yorkshire.
At 35 he is the oldest competitor already in this year’s main draw, and he is seeded to meet 2014 champion Gaultier in the semi-finals. However, there are plenty of top-class opponents aiming to notch a scalp or two.
In the first round Gaultier faces Cameron Pilley, the hard-hitting Australian who toppled him in the quarter-finals of the Hong Kong Open, where Pilley also beat Matthew in the semi-finals before finishing runner-up to Mohamed Elshorbagy.
The bottom half of the draw also includes Ali Farag, the hugely impressive young Egyptian who has the ability to worry any opponent in the world, plus No.7 seed Simon Rosner, who withdrew from last week’s Canary Wharf Classic quarter-finals because of illness.
The 2013 winner Ramy Ashour, the flamboyant Egyptian who went 49 matches undefeated through 2012 and 2013, is seeded five but will enjoy an ‘under the radar’ status as he returns to the British Open for the first time since 2014 amidst yet more question marks surrounding his fitness.
Main Draw – Men’s 2016 Allam British Open
 Mohamed Elshorbagy (EGY) v [Qualifier]
James Willstrop (ENG) v Tarek Momen (EGY)
Daryl Selby (ENG) v [Qualifier]
[Qualifier] v  Miguel Angel Rodriguez (COL)
 Mathieu Castagnet (FRA) v Saurav Ghosal (IND)
Marwan ElShorbagy (EGY) v Borja Golan (ESP)
Mazen Hesham (EGY) v Fares Dessouki (EGY)
Karim Abdel Gawad (EGY) v  Omar Mosaad (EGY)
 Nick Matthew (ENG) v [Qualifier]
Ali Farag (EGY) v [WC] Tom Richards (ENG)
Ryan Cuskelly (AUS) v [Qualifier]
[Qualifier] v  Ramy Ashour (EGY)
 Simon Rösner (GER) v Max Lee (HKG)
Chris Simpson (ENG) v [Qualifier]
Stephen Coppinger (RSA) v [Qualifier]
Cameron Pilley (AUS) v  Gregory Gaultier (FRA)
The 2016 Allam British Open, PSA World Series tournament, takes place in Hull, England from Saturday 19th to Sunday 27th March. Qualification rounds will take place at the University of Hull on the 19th & 20th March while the main draw action will be played at the Airco Arena from the 21st March.
Tickets for the 2016 Allam British Open can be booked online at www.isportstore.com, by telephone on (+44) 0 844 8797 949 or, for more information, email [email protected]
Pictures by STEVE LINE (www.squashpics.com)