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Laura Massaro’s British Open target

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England’s world champion aims to make history in Hull

By HOWARD HARDING

 

Laura Massaro and James Willstrop with sponsor Assem Allam
Laura Massaro and James Willstrop with sponsor Assem Allam

World champion Laura Massaro bids to become the first Englishwoman for more than 50 years to defend the Allam British Open squash title when she takes on Hong Kong’s Joey Chan in the first round in Hull next month.

The Women’s Squash Association World Series Platinum championship will take place at The Sports Arena in the East Yorkshire city of Hull from May 13-18, following qualifying and first round action at the University of Hull Sports and Fitness Centre.

“The strength and depth in the women’s draw is really tough,” said Massaro after Wednesday’s draw at the University of Hull. “I’ve actually got the same first round draw that I had last year – so I don’t know if that’s a good or a bad omen,” added the No2 seed who aims to become the first English player since Janet Morgan in 1959 to retain the title.

It was in the final in Hull last year that the Lancashire lass produced one of the biggest wins of her career to depose defending champion Nicol David, the world No1 from Malaysia, to become the first English winner of the title since 1991.

Massaro went on to ensure a place in squash history last month when she won the WSA World Championship in Malaysia – becoming the first Englishwoman to hold both the British Open and World titles.

“It’s a really prestigious event and for all the British players it’s a great opportunity to play in front of a home crowd, which is something we don’t get to do very often,” explained the 30-year-old from Preston at the British Open draw.

“I guess now I need to stop celebrating my World Open win and start focusing on this, now it’s become real!”bo2014logo

Second seed Massaro will be making her 11th successive appearance in the main draw of the championship when she takes on world No.25 Chan in the opening round. The Hong Kong number one Annie Au is her likely second round opponent, before a predicted clash with Irish champion Madeline Perry in the quarter-finals.

A repeat of her World Championship semi against Egypt’s world No3 Raneem El Welily is the anticipated semi-final in the lower half of the draw, before a showdown with top seed David in a repeat of the 2013 final.

Nicol David, seeded to win the title for a fifth time since 2005, begins her 12th successive British Open campaign against a qualifier before an anticipated second round meeting with rapidly-rising English player Sarah-Jane Perry.

After a possible clash with French number one Camille Serme, the No6 seed, in the quarter-finals, it is fourth seed Joelle King – the new world No4 from New Zealand – who is David’s predicted opponent in the semi-finals.

This will be the third year that the British Open has been supported by title sponsor Dr Allam who, in a bid to ultimately offer equal prize money for men and women, has increased the prize fund for the 2014 women’s draw to $100,000.

“I am very pleased to be able to support women’s squash,” said Dr Allam (pictured above with Massaro and compatriot James Willstrop at the draw). “I am committed to ensuring the increase of the women’s prize money in both practical and financial terms. After all, female squash players play the best of five games the same as their male counterparts.

“I am very happy to be bringing this important event back to East Yorkshire and I look forward to seeing some great squash on display in May.”

1st round draw:
[1] Nicol David (MAS) v Qualifier
[16] Sarah-Jane Perry (ENG) v Line Hansen (DEN)
[11] Omneya Abdel Kawy (EGY) v Qualifier
[6] Camille Serme (FRA) v Nour El Tayeb (EGY)
[5] Alison Waters (ENG) v Qualifier
[12] Dipika Pallikal (IND) v Qualifier
[15] Rachael Grinham (AUS) v Joshana Chinappa (IND)
[4] Joelle King (NZL) v Qualifier
[3] Raneem El Welily (EGY) v Qualifier
[14] Kasey Brown (AUS) v [WC] Emily Whitlock (ENG)
[13] Nour El Sherbini (EGY) v Emma Beddoes (ENG)
[7] Low Wee Wern (MAS) v Qualifier
[8] Madeline Perry (IRL) v Nicolette Fernandes (GUY)
[10] Jenny Duncalf (ENG) v Sarah Kippax (ENG)
[9] Annie Au (HKG) v Qualifier
[2] Laura Massaro (ENG) v Joey Chan (HKG)

Wildcard Richards meets Matthew

tomvolleyWildcard Tom Richards faces the daunting task of taking on World Champion and number one seed Nick Matthew when the 2014 Allam British Open gets under way in Hull this May.

Richards (right), the World No.28, was pitted against Matthew in one of several mouthwatering first-round match-ups which were made during the live draw for the tournament which took place at the University of Hull earlier today (April 2).

English No.2 and World No.6 James Willstrop will have to be at his best when he faces dangerous German Simon Rosner, the World No.11, in a difficult first-round contest while England’s Peter Barker and Daryl Selby also face difficult opening matches against Laurens Jan Anjema and Saurav Ghosal respectively.

Speaking at the official draw for the event James Willstrop said: “My first round match is against Simon Rosner from Germany which is really tough.

“It’s not ideal but that doesn’t matter, you just have to concentrate on that match and the rest of the tournament just works itself out from there.

“I used to watch the British Open when I was a kid, it’s got something special that all the players talk about. It’s the most prestigious event in squash history, you talk about players like Jonah Barrington, Jahangir Khan and Jansher Khan who won multiple titles there and it’s the one we all want to win.”

Elsewhere number two seed and current World No.1 Gregory Gaultier of France will take on England’s Chris Simpson, who made his first ever appearance in the world’s top 20 this month, while World No.5 Borja Golan will meet dangerous Frenchman Mathieu Castagnet in his opening match.

The 2014 Allam British Open takes place at The Sports Arena, Hull from Saturday May 10 – Sunday May 18, 2014. Tickets and further information can be found at www.britishopensquash.net

2014 Allam British Open – Main Round Draw:
[1] Nick Matthew (Eng) v [WC] Tom Richards (Eng)
Saurav Ghosal (Ind) v Daryl Selby (Eng)
Karim Abdel Gawad (Egy) v Qualifier
[8] Karim Darwish (Egy) v Qualifier
[6] Borja Golan (Esp) v Mathieu Castagnet (Fra)
Adrian Grant (Eng) v Qualifier
Tarek Momen (Egy) v Qualifier
[4] Mohamed Elshorbagy (Egy) v Alister Walker (Bot)
Qualifier v [3] Ramy Ashour (Egy)
Peter Barker (Eng) v Laurens Jan Anjema (Ned)
Steve Coppinger (Rsa) v Omar Mosaad (Egy)
Simon Rosner (Ger) v [5] James Willstrop (Eng)
Qualifier v [7] Amr Shabana (Egy)
Qualifier v Cameron Pilley (Aus)
Miguel Angel Rodriguez (Col) v Qualifier
Chris Simpson (Eng) v [2] Gregory Gaultier (Fra)

Picture by Darren Casey / DCimaging.co.uk

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