Tournament of Champions field revealed as Ramy draws Adrian Grant in round one
By ALAN THATCHER – Squash Mad Reporter
EGYPT’S Ramy Ashour is aiming to be back in action at the 2014 Tournament of Champions event in New York.
The Egyptian, who limped out of the World Championship in Manchester and the recent Hong Kong Open, hopes a period of treatment, training and rehabilitation will do the trick before he flies to the States.
Ashour, 26, from Cairo, has topped the PSA world rankings throughout 2013, but his recent hamstring problems have handed the number one spot to England’s Nick Matthew in the New Year.
Despite that, the seedings have been determined by the December rankings, which means that Ashour is the favourite to win a record-equalling fourth J.P. Morgan Tournament of Champions title at the first PSA World Series squash event of 2014.
He became the youngest Tournament of Champions winner in 2008 at the age of 21, and will now be bidding to emulate the four-title record held by Canada’s Jonathon Power (pictured right in action against Amr Shabana).
“The action on the glass court in Grand Central Terminal at the 2014 J.P. Morgan Tournament of Champions will be electrifying,” said John Nimick, president of Squash Engine, Inc., the tournament promoter, as he announced the draws for the world’s largest spectator squash event.
“Virtually all of the world’s top-ranking men and women players are entered, representing 23 nations and six continents. In the men’s draw, we have five returning titleholders in the hunt for the title – all of whom have been ranked number one in the world.”
Ashour will be succeeded at the top of the world rankings in January by 2012 ToC champion Matthew. The 33-year-old Englishman will go into the ToC in a rich vein of form having won the PSA World Championship for the third time in November and his first Hong Kong Open title a week ago.
Frenchman Gregory Gaultier, the 2009 ToC champion who went toe-to-toe with Ashour in the five- game 2013 ToC final, has been ranked number two since June 2013 – and defeated Matthew to win the 2013 US Open title in October.
Mohamed Elshorbagy served notice in 2013 that he will be a title contender. The 22-year-old Egyptian notched victories over higher-ranked players Matthew, James Willstrop and Karim Darwish en-route to two PSA titles and his highest world ranking of four in December. Rounding out the top six seeds are two former world number one players – England’s James Willstrop, the 2011 ToC champion, and Egypt’s Karim Darwish, who has been a top 10 player since October 2007.
Nicol David, who has maintained the number one WSA world ranking since January 2006, will be the odds on favourite to claim the ToC title in her inaugural appearance at Grand Central. The 30-year-old Malaysian won five of the eight WSA tour events she played in 2013. Laura Massaro of England, ranked second since March, defeated David twice in 2013, winning the CIMB KL Open and the Allam British Open.
Third-ranked 24-year-old Raneem El Welily of Egypt is a two-time World Junior Champion who defeated David in the year’s first tournament. England’s Alison Waters, Frenchwoman Camille Serme and Joelle King of New Zealand complete the top six seeds. Former US champion Latasha Khan of Seattle, Washington has the wildcard entry, while two-time intercollegiate champion and former world junior champion Amanda Sobhy of Seacliff, NY will play the qualifying draw.
The 2014 J.P. Morgan Tournament of Champions will celebrate the event’s 17th staging at the iconic Grand Central Terminal in New York since 1995.