As we close towards the midway point of the squash season, it’s a good time to take a look at the first four months of the campaign and evaluate the stand-out performers.
Let’s look at five players who’ve impressed in the opening tournaments.
KARIM ABDEL GAWAD
It’s been a scintillating season to date for Gawad with a world title triumph last month and a number of devastating performances on the PSA World Series.
The 25-year-old Egyptian reached the final in Hong Kong and semi-finals at the US Open, but perhaps his crowning moment came in the Qatar Classic final last month when he beat world No1 Mohamed Elshorbagy in straight sets.
Although he lost in the second round of the Hong Kong Open to Cameron Pilley, the Egyptian stormed back in style to clinch the USA Open title in October.
Defeat in the final at Qatar last month may have shadowed his otherwise positive start, but Elshorbagy is still the biggest star in squash and plays the game at an intensity which is frightening.
The big question pursed on everyone’s lips is whether he can win an elusive PSA World Series title in Dubai or will his dominance finally be curtailed?
The three-time World Open champion is a joy to watch and still moves with the slickness of a gazelle – even at 36.
Matthews led by two games against Elshorbagy in the semi-finals at the Qatar Classic but was beaten in the fifth.
In the US Open final, he also carved out a commanding lead against the Egyptian but was forced to retire in the deciding game due to a hamstring injury.
With plenty of squash left in the elusive Englishman, it’s hard to believe he’ll be closing on 37 when the series rolls into the UAE in May.
It’s been a memorable year so far for Serme as she made history to become the first Frenchwomen to lift the US Open crown in October.
The 27-year-old overcame World No1 Nour El Sherbini in a thrilling final in Philadelphia to seal her ninth career title.
Earlier in the season, Serme was beaten by Nicol David in the quarter-finals at the Hong Kong Open, but still leads the Road to Dubai rankings as a result of her consistent displays.
The 19-year-old proved she can be a major contender in big tournaments as she beat Laura Massaro, Nicol David and Amanda Sobhy en route to capturing a first World Series title in Hong Kong.
In the US Open, she fell at the quarter-final stage to Sobhy but can take pride in the manner she executes her game and never gives up.
An exciting 2017 awaits for the rising star.