Gaultier also has a chance of reclaiming top spot but needs to win at the Airco Arena and hope Gawad is knocked out in the first two rounds.
After dominating the Tour last season, claiming six successive World Series titles along the way, ElShorbagy had put clear daylight between him and the rest of the challengers for his World No.1 berth, but a barren period of form over the past seven months, which has seen him win just the U.S. Open and China Open, has seen Gawad and Gaultier close the gap.
Gawad in particular has been in sensational form this season, claiming the sport’s biggest prize, the World Championship title, in November, in addition to capturing his first two World Series titles at the Qatar Classic and the Tournament of Champions.
The ‘Baby-Faced Assassin’ began the year ranked at World No.8, but his rich vein of form, coupled with ElShorbagy’s struggles, have seen him rise six places and he has cut the gap on his compatriot to such an extent that a quarter-final finish in Hull would guarantee him the World No.1 spot – even if ElShorbagy lifts his third consecutive British Open crown.
Gawad’s quarter-final spot at the Windy City Open earlier this month has seen him increase his ranking points average, due to an improvement on his second round finish at the 2016 edition.
Meanwhile, ElShorbagy’s shock exit at the same stage to younger brother Marwan saw him drop points after his 2016 title win – meaning that Gawad is on the verge of becoming the fifth Egyptian of all time to claim top spot on the World Rankings.
The odds are heavily stacked in Gawad’s favour, with ElShorbagy needing to win the tournament in addition to Gawad going out in round one or two to retain his place atop the rankings.
A runner-up finish for ElShorbagy would also see Gawad usurp him at the summit – even if Gawad lost out in the opening round.
Frenchman Gregory Gaultier is a dark horse for the World No.1 spot and, at 34 years and three months, could become the sport’s oldest World No.1 of all time – overtaking legendary Australian Sarah Fitz-Gerald, who spent 40 months at the top of the Women’s rankings, by a month.
Gaultier will receive a huge boost to his ranking points due to winning the Windy City Open – after missing the 2016 instalment through injury – and has points to gain in Hull after he reached the semi-final stage last year.
Similarly to ElShorbagy, Gaultier will need to both win his third British Open title and hope that Gawad falls in either of the first two rounds to claim top spot for the fifth time.
However, the ‘French General’ just needs to equal or surpass ElShorbagy’s result at the British Open to overtake the Egyptian – meaning he could return to World No.2 for the first time since November.
Potential Points Average Permutations
Karim Abdel Gawad
Second Round: 1,518.500
First Round: 1,518.500
Second Round: 1,329.000
First Round: 1,329.000
Second Round: 1,302.000
First Round: 1,289.500
List of Men’s World No.1s
Name – Date first Reached – Total Months at No.1
Mohamed ElShorbagy (EGY) – Nov 2014 – 28 Gregory Gaultier (FRA) – Nov 2009 – 10 Nick Matthew (ENG) – June 2010 – 19 Ramy Ashour (EGY) – Jan 2010 – 21 James Willstrop (ENG) – Jan 2012 – 11 Karim Darwish (EGY) – Jan 2009 – 11 Amr Shabana (EGY) – Apr 2006 – 33 Jonathon Power (CAN) – May 1999 – 14 David Palmer (AUS) – Sep 2001 – 5 Thierry Lincou (FRA) – Jan 2005 – 14 Lee Beachill (ENG) – Oct 2004 – 3 Peter Nicol (ENG) – Feb 1998 – 60 John White (SCO) – Mar 2004 – 2 Jansher Khan (PAK) – Jan 1988 – 97 Chris Dittmar (AUS) – July 1993 – 2 Jahangir Khan (PAK) – Jan 1982 – 94 Qamar Zaman (PAK) – Jan 1975 – 25 Geoff Hunt (AUS) – Feb 1976 – 59
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