Three-time World Champion Ramy Ashour's hopes of qualifying for the season-ending PSA Dubai World Series Finals will be put on the line during next week's Allam British Open, the sixth PSA World Series tournament of the 2015/16 season, when the maverick Egyptian goes into the prestigious tournament 90 points adrift of a top eight spot on the Road To Dubai Standings.
Only the top eight players on the standings will compete at the World Series Finals, which take place from May 24-28 in Dubai, and with just one tournament, the El Gouna International, to be played after the British Open, the 28-year-old will need to reach at least one final and one semi-final to be in with a chance of defending the title he won in 2014 – the last time the World Series Finals were staged.
‘The Artist’, who has been out of action for four months with a troublesome hamstring injury, opens up his British Open campaign against a qualifier on Monday March 21 and is seeded to meet World No.3 Nick Matthew in the quarter-final in what could be a pivotal encounter while in next month's El Gouna International on home soil he is seeded to meet World No.1 Mohamed Elshorbagy, also in the quarter-finals. Ashour beat Elshorbagy to the title on home soil 12 months ago but will see his hopes of participating in Dubai hinging on a positive result against Elshorbagy – who has dominated the PSA World Tour in Ashour’s absence claiming four World Series titles.
Teetering on the edge of qualification are the likes of Mathieu Castagnet, Cameron Pilley, Miguel Angel Rodriguez and Simon Rösner who make up 5th-8th place, respectively.
Castagnet, who won the recent Canary Wharf Classic, is seeded to meet World Championship runner-up Omar Mosaad in the quarter-final of the British Open while Pilley and Rösner have extremely difficult first round encounters. Pilley faces World Champion Gregory Gaultier and Rösner has a banana-skin fixture against Hong Kong’s Max Lee.
Rodriguez, meanwhile, has struggled for form in recent months and is ranked just 25 points inside the top eight. With a possible quarter-final clash against Elshorbagy in the offering, the ‘Colombian Cannonball’ may need to spring a surprise if he is to avoid being dragged into the qualification dogfight.
A number of players lie just outside the qualification spots with Egyptian trio Tarek Momen, Mazen Hesham and Karim Abdel Gawad all needing to find some form in both the British Open and the El Gouna International.
Momen has been inconsistent thus far and has been unable to progress past the last eight of a World Series event this season while exciting shot-maker Hesham achieved a semi-final berth in Qatar but followed that up with a shock first round exit at the Cathay Pacific Sun Hung Kai Financial Classic a month later. A hip injury has ruled Hesham since then and he is yet to make an appearance in 2016.
Gawad, meanwhile, has been one of the most exciting players on the PSA World Tour this season but the World No.7 has struggled to impose himself on the World Series tournaments with a quarter-final finish at the Qatar Classic his best so far this season.
Momen will line up against former World No.1 James Willstrop in the opening round of the British Open, with Hesham and Gawad set for respective fixtures against Fares Dessouki and Omar Mosaad.
Elshorbagy, Gaultier, Matthew and Mosaad are comfortably inside the top four in the standings and can secure their Dubai berths with a latter stage finish in Hull.
Current PSA Road to Dubai Standings