A star-studded field, led by the top three players in the world, will line up in next month’s NetSuite Open, the PSA World Tour International 70 event which will be held for the second successive year on an all-glass court erected at Justin Herman Plaza in San Francisco.
Last year, the NetSuite Open became the first international professional squash event on the US West Coast to use the iconic portable ‘Glass Cube’ court when it made its spectacular Northern California debut on the South Lawn at Justin Herman Plaza on the San Francisco waterfront.
France’s world number two Gregory Gaultier will be back to defend the title he won in spectacular style last October. But this time the 29-year-old from Aix-en-Provence will have Egyptian rival Ramy Ashour to contend with.
Ashour, the world number one and reigning world champion will arrive in California unbeaten since May 2012 – boasting a 41-match-winning streak not seen since the heyday of Pakistani legends Jahangir Khan and Jansher Khan more than two decades ago!
Former world number one Gaultier, the second seed, will begin the defence of his title against a qualifier – as will Ashour, who is making his first appearance in San Francisco.
But there are two further ex-world number ones who will be making a bid for the 2013 NetSuite Open trophy. James Willstrop, the third seed from England who topped the rankings for all but one month of last year, crashed out of last year’s quarter-finals – beaten by fellow former world No1 Amr Shabana.
The distinguished Egyptian, with four world championship titles to his name, is again unseeded in this year’s event – and faces England’s Tom Richards before a possible quarter-final clash with fellow countryman Ashour.
Willstrop, who celebrates his 30th birthday today, begins his 2013 campaign against the highest-ranked South American on the Tour – Colombian Miguel Angel Rodriguez, ranked 19 in the world. The winner of this first round encounter is expected to face unseeded Laurens Jan Anjema, the eight-time Dutch champion who won the inaugural NetSuite Open in 2011 in Stanford.
An Englishman is also the No4 seed: Londoner Peter Barker, the world No7 fresh from his fourth title triumph in last week’s Colombian Open in Bogota, will take on wildcard Julian Illingworth, the eight times US national champion from New York.
A further mouth-watering first round clash will see two of continental Europe’s top players go head-to-head for the first time for almost four years when German number one Simon Rosner takes on the top-ranked Swiss player Nicolas Mueller.
“It’s very exciting to have such a high quality field in this year’s NetSuite Open,” said Tournament Director John Nimick. “The intensity and skill brought to the court by the world’s top players is enthralling.”
Alex Gough, CEO of the PSA, added: “There are now almost one million squash players in the USA, making it one of the sport’s fastest growing markets. The NetSuite Open, with its iconic outdoor setting on the waterfront of one of the world’s most famous cities, is one of our standout events on the PSA World Tour.”
1st round draw:
1 Ramy Ashour (EGY) v Qualifier
Amr Shabana (EGY) v Tom Richards (ENG)
Laurens Jan Anjema (NED) v Qualifier
3 James Willstrop (ENG) v Miguel Angel Rodriguez (COL)
4 Peter Barker (ENG) v [WC] Julian Illingworth (USA)
Daryl Selby (ENG) v Qualifier
Simon Rosner (GER) v Nicolas Mueller (SUI)
2 Gregory Gaultier (FRA) v Qualifier