New world champion Gawad aims to shine
By SEAN REUTHE
World No.2 Gregory Gaultier has withdrawn from the 2016 Qatar Classic after he was unable to recover from the ankle injury he sustained during last week’s PSA Men’s World Championship.
The Frenchman, a 2011 Qatar Classic winner and a runner-up last year in Doha, picked up the injury during his quarter-final clash with Egypt’s Tarek Momen in Cairo last week and was forced to withdraw from his semi-final fixture with World No.10 Ramy Ashour as a result.
His ankle problem is the latest in an injury-hit year for the 33-year-old, who has already spent two months on the sidelines after damaging ligaments on the same ankle during January’s J.P. Morgan Tournament of Champions.
World No.4 Omar Mosaad replaces Gaultier as the number two seed and will play England’s Daryl Selby in round one, while 2009 winner Nick Matthew moves up to the number four seeded position and will play tournament wildcard Abdulla Mohd Al Tamimi.
Elsewhere, Momen moves up to become the new number eight seed and will face a qualifier, with Hong Kong’s Leo Au moving into the main draw where he too will lock horns with a qualifier in the opening round.
Recently-crowned World Champion Karim Abdel Gawad will look to continue his superb form in the upcoming Qatar Classic.
The world’s greatest players will battle it out for crucial points on the PSA Road to Dubai Standings – which is topped by World No.1 Mohamed ElShorbagy – with a place at the lucrative season-ending Dubai PSA World Series Finals up for grabs for the top eight.
Gawad, the 25-year-old from Giza, Egypt, lifted the sport’s most prestigious title at the Wadi Degla PSA Men’s World Championship last week in Cairo, beating three-time winner Ramy Ashour to add to the Al Ahram Squash Open NEWGIZA title he claimed in front of the iconic Great Pyramid of Giza earlier this season.
The World No.3 will meet a qualifier in round one, and is seeded to contest a mouthwatering semi-final with 2015 World Champion Gregory Gaultier, who will hope to be fully recovered from the ankle injury he sustained during the World Championship.
Defending champion ElShorbagy is also in action as he looks to bounce back from a semi-final defeat to Gawad in Cairo.
The hard-hitting Egyptian’s title-winning exploits at the Delaware Investments U.S. Open catapulted him to the top of the PSA Road to Dubai standings ahead of Gawad and he will aim to strengthen his grasp on top spot with a third successive Qatar Classic crown.
ElShorbagy opens up against Australian No.1 Cameron Pilley – the player who ended his charge during the 2016 Dubai PSA World Series Finals – and could meet Ashour in an explosive quarter-final clash, which would act as the latest chapter in their long-running rivalry.
Revised Main Draw – 2016 Qatar Classic:
 Mohamed ElShorbagy (EGY) v Cameron Pilley (AUS)
Leo Au (HKG) v [Qualifier]
James Willstrop (ENG) v Chris Simpson (ENG)
[Qualifier] v  Ramy Ashour (EGY)
 Tarek Momen (EGY) v [Qualifier]
Gregoire Marche (FRA) v Mohamed Abouelghar (EGY)
Saurav Ghosal (IND) v [Qualifier]
[WC] Abdulla Mohd Al Tamimi (QAT) v  Nick Matthew (EGY)
 Karim Abdel Gawad (EGY) v [Qualifier]
Tom Richards (ENG) v Zahed Mohamed (EGY)
Max Lee (HKG) v Ryan Cuskelly (AUS)
[Qualifier] v  Marwan ElShorbagy (EGY)
 Ali Farag (EGY) v [Qualifier]
Cesar Salazar (MEX) v Omar Abdel Meguid (EGY)
Simon Rösner (GER) v [Qualifier]
Daryl Selby (ENG) v  Omar Mosaad (EGY)
The qualifying stages of the 2016 Qatar Classic will take place on November 11-12, while the main draw begins a day later, with the final taking place on Friday November 18 – entry to the tournament is free of charge.
Pictures courtesy of PSA and social media