The PSA Dubai World Series Finals will become the first sporting event ever to be held in Dubai Opera later this month when the showpiece tournament brings the curtain down on the 2016/17 season between June 6-10.
Following on from last year’s event, which was held in front of the stunning Burj Khalifa – the tallest building in the world – the World Series Finals is one of the most highly-anticipated tournaments on the PSA World Tour and will see the world’s top eight men and women battle for a share of the lucrative $160,000 prize fund.
Only the top eight players on the Men’s and Women’s PSA Road to Dubai Standings qualified for a coveted berth in Dubai, with points up for grabs at all seven World Series tournaments throughout the season.
Those eight players make up two groups of four in their respective sexes, with a round-robin format determining the semi-finalists. Each player will play three matches, and the two players with the most points in each group will advance to the latter stages.
The scoring system is slightly different to a normal PSA World Tour event. A best-of-three format is adopted up until the final, which will be played in a best-of-five format as used in all other PSA World Tour events.
After both groups are decided, the tournament then becomes a straight knock-out as the battle for the title intensifies.
The World Series Finals began life in Zurich, Switzerland back in 1993 as the legendary Pakistani player Jansher Khan toppled Chris Dittmar to win the first of his four titles – all of which came in the first five instalments of the event.
The tournament moved to England in 1996 and would stay there for 17 editions, with Hatfield, London and Manchester all playing host to the world’s greatest players.
Del Harris remains the only English winner after prevailing on home soil against Brett Martin in the 1996 final, while the likes of Scotland’s Peter Nicol (3), Canada’s Jonathon Power (2), Australians David Palmer and Anthony Ricketts, and Frenchman Thierry Lincou all got their hands on the trophy over the next ten years.
In the last decade, Egyptian maverick Ramy Ashour has triumphed twice, while his compatriot, the iconic Amr Shabana, has also had his name etched into the trophy on two occasions.
Shabana also made it to the final of the 2010/11 instalment, but the final was subsequently cancelled due to adverse weather conditions which meant that the court, staged in an inflatable arena, was deemed unsafe.
A Women’s tournament began in 2012 and saw Malaysian superstar Nicol David take the first two titles, beating Madeline Perry and Laura Massaro in successive finals.
Last year saw Dubai become only the second city outside of Europe to hold the prestigious World Series Finals, with the tournament being staged at the Vitis Club in Zurich (1993-1994) The Galleria in Hatfield (1996-1999), Broadgate Arena in London (1999-2006), the National Squash Centre in Manchester (2007-2008) and Queen’s Club in London (2009-2013).
Taking part in this year’s event in the Men’s category are: Karim Abdel Gawad (EGY) Gregory Gaultier (FRA), Mohamed ElShorbagy (EGY), Marwan ElShorbagy (EGY), Nick Matthew (ENG), James Willstrop (ENG), Simon Rösner (GER) and Ramy Ashour (EGY).
As for the Women’s event, the competitors are: Camille Serme (FRA), Nour El Sherbini (EGY), Laura Massaro (ENG), Raneem El Welily (EGY), Nouran Gohar (EGY), Nicol David (MAS), Sarah-Jane Perry (ENG) and Alison Waters (ENG).
The PSA Dubai World Series Finals groups
Gaultier – who currently boasts a 27-match unbeaten run – is the defending champion in the Men’s tournament after the ‘French General’ defeated Australia’s Cameron Pilley in last year’s final, and he will look to win a seventh tournament in a row next week at Dubai Opera.
Meanwhile, Massaro defeated World No.2 Raneem El Welily to take the Women’s title and become the first player other than David to take the crown.
Previous Winners – Men
2016 – Gregory Gaultier (FRA)
2013 – Ramy Ashour (EGY)
2012 – Amr Shabana (EGY)
2011 – Amr Shabana (EGY)
2010 – Nick Matthew (ENG) / Amr Shabana (EGY) – Final not played
2009 – Gregory Gaultier (FRA)
2008 – Gregory Gaultier (FRA)
2007 – Ramy Ashour (EGY)
2006 – Anthony Ricketts (AUS)
2005 – Jonathon Power (CAN)
2004 – Thierry Lincou (FRA)
2003 – Jonathon Power (CAN)
2002 – David Palmer (AUS)
2001 – Peter Nicol (SCO)
2000 – Peter Nicol (SCO)
1999 – Peter Nicol (SCO)
1998 – Jansher Khan (PAK)
1997 – Jansher Khan (PAK)
1996 – Del Harris (ENG)
1995 – No competition
1994 – Jansher Khan (PAK)
1993 – Jansher Khan (PAK)
Previous Winners – Women
2016 – Laura Massaro (ENG)
2012 – Nicol David (MAS)
2011 – Nicol David (MAS)