Saudi International Squash   13-18 Dec 2009  Al Khobar  





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GALLERY: Sunset at Sunset Beach, Building the Court, Opening Dinner ...

TODAY in Al Khobar            En Bref #1 - from India to Saudi
Darwish joins Gaultier
on the injured list

Top seed and world number one Karim Darwish will not defend his Saudi International title after failing to recover from the injury that kept him out of the just-concluded PSA Masters in Mumbai. It was last year's event in Al Khobar that propelled Darwish to the number one position that he has held for eleven months in 2009.

The top two seeds remain Egyptian though, with Ramy Ashour, winner of the PSA Masters, installed as top seed as world champion Amr Shabana - winner here in 2006 and 2007 - moves to the top of the draw as second seed.

Unofficial calculations suggest that Darwish and Gregory Gaultier, who withdrew from the tournament a few days ago, will fall to numbers 4 and 5 in the world in the January rankings, while whoever does best here out of Ashour, Shabana and Nick Matthew will become world number one - amazingly the fourth time in five years that this event will determine the world number one!

Updated Draw

Thu 10th Dec:

Injury rules Gaultier out of
Saudi International

World number two Gregory Gaultier has been forced to withdraw from the Saudi International, the final PSA World Tour Super Series squash event of the year, due to a quadriceps injury.

The withdrawal will almost certainly dash the Frenchman's hopes of being reinstated as world number one in the January 2010 PSA World Squash Rankings. The 26-year-old from Aix-en-Provence reached No1 for the first time in November, but was then replaced this month by Egyptian Karim Darwish.

The $250,000 Saudi International will take place for the fifth year at the Sunset Beach resort in Al-Khobar, Saudi Arabia, from 13-18 December.

Gaultier's exit elevates Egypt's Ramy Ashour to second seed, behind top-seeded compatriot Darwish, the defending champion. Fellow Egyptian Amr Shabana is the No3 seed, while England's Nick Matthew is promoted to fourth seed.

Amazingly, Ramy Ashour now faces his older brother Hisham Ashour in the first round only a week after the pair met in the opening round of the Punj Lloyd PSA Masters in India. Furthermore, a first round win by Matthew is now likely to take the England number one to a second round clash with his national rival James Willstrop, the 10th seed and England number two.

Italian Amr Swelim is the new player in the revised draw the Cairo-based world No39 lining up against Australia's fifth seed David Palmer in the first round.

Starting to take shape ...

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