England legend unseeded for first time since 2003
By SEAN REUTHE
England’s Nick Matthew has been handed a difficult first round fixture against Egypt’s World No.5 Tarek Momen at next month’s Allam British Open, PSA World Series tournament as the 37-year-old from Sheffield gets ready to appear at the prestigious ‘Wimbledon of Squash’ for the final time.
Former World No.1 Matthew, a three-time British Open champion, will call time on an illustrious career at the end of this season. The British Open will be his last ranking PSA tournament and he is determined to have one final shot at capturing the coveted title. However, he will have to defeat one of the most in-form players on the PSA World Tour if he is to progress beyond the opening round.
Three tournament finals so far this season have seen Momen rise into the world’s top five for the first time earlier this month and he beat Matthew last time the two met in the quarter-finals of November’s Qatar Classic. This year marks Matthew’s first unseeded appearance at the tournament since 2003.
Matthew’s bitter rival and fellow Yorkshireman James Willstrop (right), the 34-year-old who won a gold medal in the Commonwealth Games Singles event earlier this week, also has tough Egyptian opposition in round one, which comes in the form of World Championship runner-up Marwan ElShorbagy.
Should Matthew and Willstrop both come through their first and second round matches in Hull, then the pair will face off in the quarter-finals in what could be the final chapter of one of the sport’s most captivating rivalries – a rivalry which stems from a tempestuous meeting between the two in final of the 2009 British Open which went the way of Matthew.
Colchester-based Daryl Selby and Nottingham’s Declan James are the other two Englishman involved in the main draw and they will take on 2016 World Champion Karim Abdel Gawad and Tournament of Champions winner Simon Rösner, respectively.
Top seed Mohamed ElShorbagy will kick off his attempts to win a third British Open crown against Peruvian two-time World Junior Champion Diego Elias, while the man he is seeded to meet in the final, U.S. Open champion Ali Farag, gets under way against a qualifier.
Defending champion Gregory Gaultier, who beat Matthew in last year’s final to become the sport’s oldest ever World No.1, faces Australia’s Cameron Pilley, with 2013 winner Ramy Ashour in action against former World No.4 Miguel Angel Rodriguez in the opening round.
In the women’s draw, defending champion Laura Massaro is seeded seventh and will face a qualifier in round one, with a potential quarter-final meeting against World No.3 Nour El Tayeb in store.
England No.2 Sarah-Jane Perry, who together with Massaro contested the first female all-English British Open final since 1991 last year, will face Egypt’s Hania El Hammamy in round one as she looks to follow up her silver medal at the Commonwealth Games.
World No.1 Nour El Sherbini, the 2016 British Open champion, opens up her tournament against England’s World No.19 Emily Whitlock, while World Champion Raneem El Welily will line up against a qualifier in round one.
In-form New Zealander Joelle King, fresh off the back of winning a gold medal on the Gold Coast this week, will pit her wits against a qualifier in round one, with a second round fixture against Welsh bronze medalist Tesni Evans in store if both players can come through their opening round matches unscathed.
There is the potential for another mouthwatering second round clash with five-time winner Nicol David and 2015 champion Camille Serme seeded to meet in the last 16. David will do battle against Egypt’s Mariam Metwally in round one, with France’s Serme set to meet a qualifier.
The British Open will give the players their last chance to win points for the PSA World Series Standings, where only the top eight will qualify for a place in June’s PSA World Series Finals.
The likes of Matthew, Gaultier, Gawad, Serme, Massaro and David are still yet to book their place in the season-ending tournament so every point will be crucial as the season nears its climax.
Qualifying for the tournament takes place from May 13-14 at the University of Hull Sports and Fitness Centre, while the main draw will be staged between May 15-20 on the glass showcourt at the Airco Arena.
While selected first round matches on May 15 will be held on the glass court, the University of Hull Sports and Fitness Centre will host the bulk of the round one action, with stars such as Ashour, Gawad, Massaro and Perry beginning their tournaments on a day that will see the university host 24 exciting matches.
Matches held on the glass court throughout the tournament will be shown live on SQUASHTV (Rest of World) and Eurosport Player (Europe only) with the semi-finals and finals set to be shown live by mainstream broadcasters around, such as BT Sport, beIN Sports, Fox Sports Australia and Astro.
2018 Allam British Open, Hull, England, May 15-20.
PSA M165 Men’s First Round draw:
 Mohamed ElShorbagy (EGY) v Diego Elias (PER)
Ryan Cuskelly (AUS) v [Qualifier] Paul Coll (NZL) v [Qualifier] Daryl Selby (ENG) v  Karim Abdel Gawad (EGY)
 Simon Rösner (GER) v [WC] Declan James (ENG)
Saurav Ghosal (IND) v [Qualifier] Mohamed Abouelghar (EGY) v [Qualifier] Cameron Pilley (AUS) v  Gregory Gaultier (FRA)
 Marwan ElShorbagy (EGY) v James Willstrop (ENG)
Cesar Salazar (MEX) v Nicolas Mueller (SUI)
Borja Golan (ESP) v [Qualifier] Nick Matthew (ENG) v  Tarek Momen (EGY)
 Ramy Ashour (EGY) v Miguel Angel Rodriguez (COL)
Omar Mosaad (EGY) v [Qualifier] Max Lee (HKG) v [Qualifier] [Qualifier] v  Ali Farag (EGY)
PSA W165 Women’s First Round draw:
 Nour El Sherbini (EGY) v Emily Whitlock (ENG)
[Qualifier] v  Omneya Abdel Kawy (EGY)
 Alison Waters (ENG) v Joey Chan (HKG)
Dipika Pallikal Karthik (IND) v  Nouran Gohar (EGY)
 Laura Massaro (ENG) v [Qualifier]
[Qualifier] v  Joshna Chinappa (IND)
 Olivia Blatchford (USA) v Donna Urquhart (AUS)
Salma Hany (EGY) v  Nour El Tayeb (EGY)
 Joelle King (NZL) v [Qualifier]
[Qualifier] v  Tesni Evans (WAL)
 Nicol David (MAS) v Mariam Metwally (EGY)
[Qualifier] v  Camille Serme (FRA)
 Sarah-Jane Perry (ENG) v Hania El Hammamy (EGY)
[Qualifier] v  Annie Au (HKG)
 Victoria Lust (ENG) v [WC] Fiona Moverley (ENG)
[Qualifier] v  Raneem El Welily (EGY)
Tickets for the tournament can be purchased via Ticketmaster: www.ticketmaster.co.uk/Allam-British-Open-Squash-Championships-tickets/artist/1686792
Pictures courtesy of PSA and WSF