After a thrilling finish in the last qualifying event for the 2017 PSA Dubai World Series Finals at El Gouna, Egypt, 2016 defending champion Gregory Gaultier of France kept alive hopes of a fourth PSA World Series Finals title in a row when he heads to Dubai in June.
Gaultier, known as “The General”, defeated Karim Abdel Gawad to take his 38th career PSA World Tour title in El Gouna, and became the first non-Egyptian winner of the tournament.
Gaultier is among a star studded line up of players who are now packing their bags for Dubai, where the top eight ranked male and female players in the PSA Road to Dubai rankings will contest the PSA Dubai World Series Finals from June 6-10 at Dubai Opera.
Gaultier is in blistering form, winning the last three qualification events, and his current unbeaten run of 19 matches is the longest of his glittering 17-year career.
Although he will surrender the world number one position next month to Gawad, who finished the qualification race in first place just five points clear of Gaultier, the 34 year old’s recent form sees him come to Dubai as the favourite to defend the title he won last year.
Gregory Gaultier (l) in action at last year’s finals in Dubai.
Egypt’s impressive dominance of squash continues, claiming four of the eight qualification places. Former world number one Mohamed Elshorbagy finished in third position with his brother Marwan, the PSA Men’s Young Player of the Year in 2016, in fourth. Another former world number one Ramy Ashour finished in equal seventh despite battling injuries throughout the year.
England’s former world number one Nick Matthew also had an injury interrupted season, but still managed two runner-up finishes and qualified in fifth. His countryman James Willstrop, also a former world number one, came in in sixth. Germany’s Simon Rosner made five quarter finals throughout the season and finished in equal seventh with Ashour.
The women’s line-up was finalised in March and will feature world number one Nour El Sherbini of Egypt, defending champion Laura Massaro of England, France’s Camille Serme, eight-time World Champion Nicol David of Malaysia, Egypt’s Raneem El Welily and Nouran Gohar, and England’s Sarah-Jane Perry and Alison Waters.
Tickets for the 2017 PSA Dubai World Series Finals are available to purchase through www.dubaiopera.com or from the Dubai Opera Box Office. For further information on both the PSA World Series and the PSA World Tour, visit www.worldseriesfinals.com.
Karim Abdel Gawad (L) (photo credit: PSA World Tour)
Squash World Champion Karim Abdel Gawad is all set to replace Gregory Gaultier as World No.1 in next month’s rankings following his victory over fellow Egyptian Fares Dessouky in the semi-finals of the El Gouna International on Thursday.
In recent months, Gawad has climbed the rankings by winning the World Championship title, Qatar Classic title and Tournament of Champions title.
“Today is extra special for me, reaching the finals here in El Gouna in front of this amazing crowd is a great pleasure for me,” said Gawad.
“It makes me very happy. I didn’t want to think about it [the battle for World No.1] because I’ve been thinking about it a bit in the last two tournaments and it affected my way of playing so much.
“I don’t want to think too much about it [being World No.1] because I still have one more match and this is more important for me. Tomorrow is another day, I have to keep my focus and I have to concentrate as much as I can.”
Check out the moment he won the game against Dessouky to seal top spot in the rankings below.
Heading the women’s line-up is the France’s Camille Serme, who topped the rankings after winning two of the qualifiers and making either the quarter-finals or semi-finals in the remaining three.
Only the top eight players on the standings qualify for a place at World Series Finals which will take place at the Dubai Opera from June 6-10.
Serme finished forty points ahead of her nearest rival, current world number one Nour El Sherbini of Egypt, whose win in at the Women’s World Championships in April last year at just 20 years of age, saw her become the youngest and the first Egyptian female to become world champion.
Dubai World Series Finals defending champion Laura Massaro of England stormed home in the final event, taking out the Allam British Open to qualify in third position.
Massaro’s run to the final saw her defeat Raneem El Welily, who qualified in fourth position, ahead of fellow Egyptian Nouran Gohar who took her first World Series title at the 2016 Hong Kong Open.
Eight time world champion Nicol David of Malaysia who spent nine years as world number one, did not take a title this year but finished all the qualifying events with either quarter-final or semi-final appearances, giving her enough points to qualify in sixth place.
England's Sarah-Jane Perry will compete in the event for the first time after a superb run to the final at the Allam British Open saw her seal seventh place in the standings and Perry is delighted to have made it to the Dubai season ending tournament.
"I've never been to Dubai before and never played at the World Series Finals so I'm very excited to experience it all," said Perry.
"At the start of the season my aims were to make the top eight in the World Rankings and I've managed to achieve that, so to qualify for Dubai is a huge bonus. There will be no pressure on me - I'll just go out there and enjoy the experience and try to play some good squash. It will be a fantastic way to end the season."
USA’s Amanda Sobhy was on track for a return appearance in Dubai but was ruled out with an Achilles tendon injury, opening the door for England’s Alison Waters to take the eighth and final qualification place.
The men’s field will be finalised following the El Gouna International which will be held in Egypt from April 7-14.