Welcome to ‘Talking Points’ where we round up the biggest stories from around the PSA World Tour.
With the first PSA World Series tournament of the season and a plethora of other titles on offer, October saw the action on the PSA World Tour go up a gear with some enthralling matches, stunning shocks and classic moments dominating in a month that was also packed with drama and intrigue.
Hamy-Ramy Struck Down Again
Egyptian favourite Ramy Ashour’s injury woes resurfaced once again after the 28-year-old was forced to pull out of the upcoming Qatar Classic due to a hamstring injury – and it looks to have cost the superstar a pretty penny as well!
Ashour’s withdrawal came just days after he exited court against Mathieu Castagnet in a strange episode during the Delaware Investments U.S. Open.
Qatar was the scene of Ashour’s improbable World Championship triumph 12 months ago, when he beat Mohamed Elshorbagy in one of the greatest matches ever, and his latest injury setback raises questions over his fitness ahead of the 2015 World Championship – which takes place in just three weeks.
Ashour now faces a race against time in order to be fit for the showpiece tournament, which takes place in Seattle, and squash fans will be hoping he can once again return fit as he has been seeded on the opposite side of the draw to Elshorbagy – which could result in a repeat of last year’s epic finale.
Matthew Joins Ramy on the Injury Table
Ashour wasn’t the only big name to pull out of the Qatar Classic, with World No.2 Nick Matthew suffering an abdominal injury in the build up to the tournament.
‘The Wolf’ was stunned by Omar Mosaad in the semi-final of the US Open two weeks ago but, after successive final appearances at the AJ Bell British Grand Prix and the NetSuite Open earlier this season, will be hoping his injury doesn’t disrupt his promising form ahead of the World Championship.
Like Ashour, Matthew faces an anxious wait on his fitness for Seattle where he is seeded to face the Egyptian in the semi-final – a repeat of the 2013 draw, when it was Matthew who went on to lift his third world crown.
Gaultier Charges to US Open Crown in Philly
While Matthew and Ashour have had mixed starts to the season, ‘French General’ Gregory Gaultier has blasted out of the blocks and captured his first PSA World Series title for nearly 18 months when he prevailed in the US Open final a fortnight ago.
The 32-year-old was seeded third for the event and was in rampant form, failing to drop a single game in every round but the semi-final where he went head-to-head with World No.1 Elshorbagy.
Gaultier came through the gruelling five-game match in style and went on to down Mosaad comfortably in the showpiece event to take an early lead on the PSA Road to Dubai Standings after his win in Philadelphia. The Frenchman’s 31st PSA World Tour title is sure to have given him plenty of impetus as he heads to Seattle in a buoyant mood where he’ll be hoping to end his World Championship duck – having lost out in four previous finals.
Magnificent Massaro Comes Back Against Nicol
England No.1 Laura Massaro came up with one of the performances of the tournament in the quarter-final of the US Open as she overturned a 2-0 deficit against Nicol David, for the second time in six months – shortening the World Rankings gap between herself and the Malaysian superstar, who currently occupies the World No.2 spot, in the process.
Massaro was ranked a place below David for over two years during the latter’s incredible nine-year reign at the top of the World Rankings and, after she eventually pressed on to take the title at the expense of Nour El Tayeb in the final, the World No.3 will go into the Qatar Classic with renewed optimism and could meet David in the final as they are on opposite sides of the draw.
Her triumph in the US sees her climb to the top of the PSA Women’s Road to Dubai Standings, opposite Gaultier in the Men’s draw, to show that her recent switch to work with Nick Matthew’s trainer has paid dividends.
El Welily Feeling the Pressure at the Top?
The woman who ended David’s reign at the summit of the World Rankings, Raneem El Welily, looked like she was feeling the pressure of leading the pack after she suffered a surprise quarter-final defeat to El Tayeb in the US Open – her second in consecutive tournaments.
Her disappointing performance in Philadelphia comes off the back of a shock loss in the Carol Weymuller Open previously and she will need to steady the ship in Qatar if she is to hold off David’s attempts to reclaim the World No.1 spot – while Massaro will also being eying a a spot at the top if her form can continue.
Cuskelly Blitzes to Bluenose Title
It was a month to remember for Australian No.2 Ryan Cuskelly who secured his first ever PSA M35 crown at the Bluenose Classic last week.
Cuskelly currently sits at a career-high World No.22 ranking and he outlined his credentials to challenge for a place in the world’s top 20 by dispatching a trio of seeds en-route to the title, culminating with a big upset of Karim Abdel Gawad in the final.
New York-based Cuskelly is a qualifier for the Qatar Classic and will be hoping to continue his upwards progression.
Simpson hits a Homer at St George’s Hill
Chris Simpson also made the headlines with his biggest PSA World Tour win to date after he prevailed 3-1 over fellow Englishman Daryl Selby.
The 28-year-old from Guernsey stormed to victory against Tom Richards in the semi-final before downing Selby to lift silverware.
Simpson’s attentions now turn to the Qatar Classic with World No.10 Marwan Elshorbagy his opponent in round one.
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