The world’s top female stars will start the New Year in style as they travel to Riyadh for the first World Series event of 2018 – the Saudi PSA Women’s Squash Masters – which will take place January 7-12.
The Saudi Women’s Masters will be the first professional women’s squash tournament ever to take place in Saudi Arabia and will be headed up by World No.1 and World Championship runner-up Nour El Sherbini.
With no qualifying rounds featured at the tournament, 32 of the world’s top players – comprised of 12 nationalities – will go straight into the main draw, with stars such as World Champion Raneem El Welily, World No.3 Camille Serme, World No.5 Nouran Gohar and eight-time World Champion Nicol David joining the battle for the $165,000 prize purse.
Egypt’s World No.1 and tournament top seed El Sherbini will get her tournament under way against France’s World No.30 Coline Aumard and is seeded to meet compatriot and World No.5 Nouran Gohar – who starts her tournament against Australia’s former World Champion Rachael Grinham – in the last four.
The Egyptian two-time World Champion is also predicted to face off against World No.3 Camille Serme in the final should they both play to their seeding.
Number two seed Serme will open against tournament wildcard Nada Abo Alnaja in round one and could face eight-time World Champion Nicol David in the quarter-finals.
The pair have met 17 times on the PSA World Tour – with the Frenchwoman only winning one of those encounters against the Malaysian icon in the quarter-finals of the recent Hong Kong Open this season. David will start her tournament in Riyadh against Egypt’s World No.31 Mayar Hany.
Meanwhile, newly crowned World Champion El Welily – who triumphed over El Sherbini in December to win squash’s biggest tournament – will start her tournament against Belgium’s World No.27 and Open International de Squash de Nantes runner-up Nele Gilis as she seeks to keep her strong run of form going in her first tournament since lifting the PSA World Championship crown in Manchester.
Other big names in the draw include U.S. Open winner Nour El Tayeb, who comes up against Hong Kong’s World No.36 Liu Tsz-Ling in round one of the World Series tournament, and English pair Alison Waters and Sarah-Jane Perry, who take on Egypt’s Heba El Torky and Hong Kong’s Joey Chan, respectively, in the opening round of the historic event.
In addition to the lucrative $165,000 prize fund up for grabs, the world’s top players will also be battling it out for points on the PSA World Series Standings – which are currently headed up by Egypt’s El Welily – as players aim for a top eight finish, which will guarantee their participation at June’s PSA World Series Finals.
Speaking during the official tournament dinner – organised by Princess Reema bint Bandar bin Sultan Al Saud [President of the Saudi Federation for Community Sports], PSA Chairman and Saudi Squash Federation President, Ziad Al-Turki, said: “Things are changing in Saudi, and they are changing fast.
“Win or lose, you [the players] are making history.”
Quotes and below image of players attending the official tournament dinner are courtesy of SquashSite
Main Draw – 2018 Saudi PSA Women’s Squash Masters
 Nour El Sherbini (EGY) v Coline Aumard (FRA)
Hania El Hammamy (EGY) v  Donna Urquhart (AUS)
 Salma Hany (EGY) v Dipika Pallikal Karthik (IND)
Heba El Torky (EGY) v  Alison Waters (ENG)
 Annie Au (HKG) v Jenny Duncalf (ENG)
Fiona Moverley (ENG) v  Joelle King (NZL)
 Victoria Lust (ENG) v Nadine Shahin (EGY)
Rachael Grinham (AUS) v  Nouran Gohar (EGY)
 Raneem El Welily (EGY) v Nele Gilis (BEL)
Mariam Metwally (EGY) v  Olivia Blatchford (USA)
 Tesni Evans (WAL) v Millie Tomlinson (ENG)
Joey Chan (HKG) v  Sarah-Jane Perry (ENG)
 Nicol David (MAS) v Mayar Hany (EGY)
Samantha Cornett (CAN) v  Joshna Chinappa (IND)
 Nour El Tayeb (EGY) v Liu Tsz-Ling (HKG)
[WC] Nada Abo Alnaja (KSA) v  Camille Serme (FRA)