England’s Nick Matthew has been handed a difficult first round fixture against Egypt’s World #5 Tarek Momen at next month’s Allam British Open as the 37-year-old from Sheffield gets ready to appear at the prestigious ‘Wimbledon of Squash’ for the final time.
Former World #1 Matthew, a three-time British Open champion, will call time on an illustrious career at the end of this season – meaning that the British Open will be his last ranking PSA tournament – and he will have a final shot at capturing the coveted title once more, although he will have to defeat one of the most in-form players on the PSA World Tour if he is to progress beyond the opening round.
Three tournament finals so far this season have seen Momen rise into the world’s top five for the first time earlier this month and he beat Matthew last time the two met in the quarter-finals of November’s Qatar Classic. This year marks Matthew’s first unseeded appearance at the tournament since 2003.
Matthew’s bitter rival and fellow Yorkshireman James Willstrop, the 34-year-old who won a gold medal in the Commonwealth Games Singles event earlier this week, also has tough Egyptian opposition in round one, which comes in the form of World Championship runner-up Marwan ElShorbagy.
Should Matthew and Willstrop both come through their first and second round matches in Hull, then the pair will face off in the quarter-finals in what could be the final chapter of one of the sport’s most captivating rivalries – a rivalry which stems from a tempestuous meeting between the two in final of the 2009 British Open which went the way of Matthew.
Colchester-based Daryl Selby and Nottingham’s Declan James are the other two Englishman involved in the main draw and they will take on 2016 World Champion Karim Abdel Gawad and Tournament of Champions winner Simon Rösner, respectively.
Top seed Mohamed ElShorbagy will kick off his attempts to win a third British Open crown against Peruvian two-time World Junior Champion Diego Elias, while the man he is seeded to meet in the final, U.S. Open champion Ali Farag, gets under way against a qualifier.
Defending champion Gregory Gaultier – who beat Matthew in last year’s final to become the sport’s oldest ever World #1 – faces Australia’s Cameron Pilley, with 2013 winner Ramy Ashour in action against former World #4 Miguel Angel Rodriguez in the opening round.
In the women’s draw, defending champion Laura Massaro is seeded seventh and will face a qualifier in round one, with a potential quarter-final meeting against World #3 Nour El Tayeb in store.
England #2 Sarah-Jane Perry, who together with Massaro contested the first female all-English British Open final since 1991 last year, will face Egypt’s Hania El Hammamy in round one as she looks to follow up her silver medal at the Commonwealth Games earlier this week.
World #1 Nour El Sherbini, the 2016 British Open champion, opens up her tournament against England’s World #19 Emily Whitlock in a repeat of last year’s quarter-final, while World Champion Raneem El Welily will line up against a qualifier in round one.
In-form New Zealander Joelle King, fresh off the back of winning a gold medal on the Gold Coast this week, will pit her wits against a qualifier in round one, with a second round fixture against Welsh bronze medalist Tesni Evans in store if both players can come through their opening round matches unscathed.
There is the potential for another mouthwatering second round clash with five-time winner Nicol David and 2015 champion Camille Serme seeded to meet in the last 16. David will do battle against Egypt’s Mariam Metwally in round one, with France’s Serme set to meet a qualifier.
Qualifying for the tournament takes place on 13th and 14th May at the University of Hull Sports and Fitness Centre, while the main draw will be staged between 15th and 20th May on the glass showcourt at the Airco Arena.
While selected first round matches on May 15th will be held on the glass court, the University of Hull Sports and Fitness Centre will host the bulk of the round one action, with stars such as Ashour, Gawad, Massaro and Perry beginning their tournaments on a day that will see the university host 24 exciting matches.