The PSA World Series rolls into Doha this week for the Qatar Classic – and as Will Jones reports, a world-class field will be competing for valuable points on the Road to Dubai
The eyes of the squash world were last week fixed firmly on Cairo, where the top men’s players fought on court in the Wadi Degla PSA World Championship. Many of these aces have now made the journey east to Doha for the latest instalment in the PSA’s prestigious World Series – the Qatar Classic, which begins this week.
Established in the 1990s as the Qatar International, the Qatar Classic has long attracted a tremendous field. The last three tournaments have been won by Egyptian world No. 1 Mohamed El Shorbagy, who came out on top in 2013 and 2015, and world No. 2 Grégory Gaultier from France, who triumphed in 2011.
Gaultier will be absent this week, still suffering from an ankle injury he picked up in Cairo. But El Shorbagy will be back to defend his title, part of a strong field that also includes newly crowned world champion Karim Abdel Gawad, beaten finalist Ramy Ashour and three-time World Open winner Nick Matthew. All in all, the tournament draw features 15 of the top 20 players in the current PSA World Rankings, who’ll be competing for a prize purse of $150,000 and valuable points on the PSA Road to Dubai.
The Qatar Classic is the third in a string of tournaments that collectively make up the PSA World Series on the Road to Dubai. The winner of each tournament receives 100 points, with the losing finalist picking up 65 points, the semi-finalists gaining 40 points – and so on, all the way down to 10 points for players knocked out in round 1. Ashour and El Shorbagy won the first two events in the series, which took place in Hong Kong and Philadelphia.
In June 2017, the top eight players in the Road to Dubai standings will head to the UAE for the season-ending PSA World Series Finals, one of the biggest events in the squash calendar. This week’s Qatar Classic will help determine who gets invited and who has to stay at home. It should be quite the battle.
The 2016 Qatar Classic takes place on 13-18 November at the Khalifa International Tennis & Squash Complex in Doha. You can watch the action on SquashTV.