New Zealand’s World No.7 Joelle King and Kuwait’s World No.146 Abdullah Al Muzayen have been named the PSA Players of the Month for February after both players claimed title successes.
King, the 29-year-old from Cambridge, earned the PSA Women’s Player of the Month award after a superb month that saw her take silverware at the Cleveland Classic before reaching a first ever World Series final at the Windy City Open two days ago.
The former World No.4 spent a year on the sidelines due to an achilles injury between May 2014 – May 2015 but has re-established herself as one of the most dangerous players on the PSA World Tour, with her performances in Cleveland and Chicago arguably her best of the season.
She opened up her Cleveland Classic campaign with wins over Hollie Naughton and Tesni Evans before going on to defeat United States No.2 Amanda Sobhy in the semi-finals to set up a title-decider with World Champion Raneem El Welily.
King had lost her last meeting against the Egyptian in the semi-finals of the U.S. Open but played with composure and accuracy to limit the World No.2’s shot-making skills, and she duly walked off court with a 3-0 win and a first PSA World Tour title since November 2016.
She came within a whisker of picking up a maiden World Series crown as well after battling past Jenny Duncalf, Laura Massaro, Sobhy and El Welily to reach the final, where U.S. Open champion Nour El Tayeb awaited.
What followed was a gripping contest that saw King go 2-1 ahead, only to see El Tayeb fight her way back into the encounter, with the Egyptian eventually taking it 12-10 in the fifth to deny King a first World Series trophy.
Despite the defeat, King was rewarded with a move up to World No.7 – her highest ranking since October 2014 – and she looks set to battle for a place amongst the world’s top five in the coming months.
Abdullah Al Muzayen (right) takes on Iker Pajares Bernabeu (left) in the final of the 2017 KSF Open
Meanwhile, Al Muzayen marked his first PSA World Tour appearance of 2018 with a title win at the Qatar Circuit No.6, with the unseeded 30-year-old storming through the draw to defeat number two seed Abhay Singh in the final.
The former World No.33 – who had slipped down to No.192 in the world last month – eased past Sean Conroy and Soheil Shameli to reach the semi-finals, where a gruelling match with top seed Iker Pajares Bernabeu took place.
Three of the five games went to tie-breaks and, despite going a game behind on two occasions, Al Muzayen pulled through to take an impressive win after 83 minutes of intense squash.
Their brutal match did little to slow Al Muzayen down in the final as he stormed to a 3-0 victory in just 21 minutes to vanquish Singh and earn a 19th PSA World Tour title.
As a result, Al Muzayen moved into the world’s top 150 for the first time since November 2015.