Men’s world top ten turns out to relaunch PSA World Tour in Manchester Open
By ALAN THATCHER and ELLIE MAWSON
The PSA World Tour will make a long-awaited return when the world’s top players line up at the Manchester Open from September 16-22 as the six-month suspension of professional squash due to the global Covid-19 pandemic comes to an end.
The PSA Silver tournament, originally scheduled for May 2020, will be held behind closed doors, will be delivered in partnership with Manchester City Council, and will follow strict Covid-19 protocols to ensure the health and safety of all players and on-site staff.
As the high quality line-up was revealed, the UK government announced that social gatherings of more than six people are set to be banned by law in England.
That led to squash fans worrying about the implications for the Manchester tournament. However, the PSA today confirmed that “nothing has changed”.
A statement from PSA read: “As it’s a sports event in a Covid-secure environment that has been approved by the DCMS, nothing has changed.”
Following the inaugural women’s tournament in 2019, won by New Zealand’s Joelle King, a men’s Silver tournament has been added to the bill. The men’s draw will feature the whole of the top 10, with World No.1 Mohamed ElShorbagy headlining the draw ahead of World No.2 Ali Farag, World No.3 Karim Abdel Gawad and World Champion Tarek Momen.
ElShorbagy will begin his tournament against Germany’s World No.29 Raphael Kandra, with a possible second round clash in store with Colombia’s Miguel Rodriguez, who faces Pakistan’s Tayyab Aslam in round one.
The World No.1 will face tough competition to get to the final, with his side of the draw including World No.4 Momen, New Zealand’s World No.5 Paul Coll and Peru’s World No.6 Diego Elias.
At the opposite end of the draw, Farag will line up against Scotland’s Greg Lobban in round one with the likes of compatriots Gawad and Marwan ElShorbagy on his side of the draw, along with Wales’ World No.10 Joel Makin, who will face France’s Victor Crouin on the opening day of action.
Along with Makin, there is strong home interest in the men’s draw in the form of England’s former World No.1 James Willstrop, Declan James, Tom Richards, Daryl Selby and Adrian Waller, while the wildcard place is awarded to St. Helens-based Patrick Rooney.
James faces a mouthwatering match-up against French legend Gregory Gaultier, who admitted being far from match fit when he made his long-awaited return to court earlier this year.
Meanwhile, the women’s draw is led by France’s World No.3 Camille Serme, with the likes of defending champion New Zealand’s Joelle King, World No.4 Nour El Tayeb, England’s World No.5 Sarah-Jane Perry and Wales’ World No.9 Tesni Evans all included in the draw.
Serme will begin her tournament against USA’s Sabrina Sobhy and could face Egypt’s World No.6 Hania El Hammamy in the semi-finals, should the draw go to seeding, with the two contesting some of the best matches of the 2019-20 season.
Title holder King, who defeated Evans in last year’s final, will begin her title defence against Latvia’s Ineta Mackevica in round one.
At the opposite end of the draw, Egypt’s El Tayeb will come up against England’s Jasmine Hutton in round one, while home favourite Perry will take on Scotland’s Lisa Aitken on the opening day at the National Squash Centre.
Last year’s runner-up Evans will face Egypt’s World No.26 Zeina Mickawy in round one with fellow Brits Jasmine Hutton, Lucy Turmel, Alison Waters, Millie Tomlinson and Julianne Courtice providing home interest, while World No.80 Lily Taylor is awarded the wildcard spot.
The Manchester-based Courtice would normally hope to count on home support in her match against the vastly experienced Waters.
Action from the tournament will be shown live on SQUASHTV (rest of world), Eurosport Player (Europe only) and Facebook (excluding Europe and Japan). The semi-finals and finals will be shown live on BT Sport in the UK and other international broadcasters.
Manchester Open, National Squash Centre, September 16-22, 2020.
 Mohamed ElShorbagy (EGY) v Raphael Kandra (GER)
Tayyab Aslam (PAK) v  Miguel Rodriguez (COL)
 Gregory Gaultier (FRA) v Declan James (ENG)
Tom Richards (ENG) v  Diego Elias (PER)
 Paul Coll (NZL) v Baptiste Masotti (FRA)
Alan Clyne (SCO) v  Fares Dessouky (EGY)
 Mohamed Abouelghar (EGY) v James Willstrop (ENG)
Abdulla Mohd Al Tamimi (QAT) v  Tarek Momen (EGY)
 Karim Abdel Gawad (EGY) v Lucas Serme (FRA)
Victor Crouin (FRA) v  Joel Makin (WAL)
 Omar Mosaad (EGY) v Nicolas Mueller (SUI)
Mathieu Castagnet (FRA) v  Simon Rösner (GER)
 Marwan ElShorbagy (EGY) v Daryl Selby (ENG)
[WC] Patrick Rooney (ENG) v  Adrian Waller (ENG)
 Gregoire Marche (FRA) v Youssef Soliman (EGY)
Greg Lobban (SCO) v  Ali Farag (EGY)
 Camille Serme (FRA) v Sabrina Sobhy (USA)
[WC] Lily Taylor (ENG) v  Nele Gilis (BEL)
 Nada Abbas (EGY) v Lucy Turmel (ENG)
Ineta Mackevica (LAT) v  Joelle King (NZL)
 Salma Hany (EGY) v Melissa Alves (FRA)
Hana Ramadan (EGY) v  Coline Aumard (FRA)
 Nadine Shahin (EGY) v Danielle Letourneau (CAN)
Enora Villard (FRA) v  Hania El Hammamy (EGY)
 Sarah-Jane Perry (ENG) v Lisa Aitken (SCO)
Hollie Naughton (CAN) v  Millie Tomlinson (ENG)
 Alison Waters (ENG) v Julianne Courtice (ENG)
Zeina Mickawy (EGY) v  Tesni Evans (WAL)
 Amanda Sobhy (USA) v Emilia Soini (FIN)
Haley Mendez (USA) v  Tinne Gilis (BEL)
 Donna Lobban (AUS) v Rachael Chadwick (ENG)
Jasmine Hutton (ENG) v  Nour El Tayeb (EGY)
Pictures courtesy of PSA and PATRICK LAUSON