The Punj Lloyd PSA Squash Masters, scheduled to commence here from Tuesday, will be the biggest squash tournament to be held in the country. With $192,500 (approx Rs 87 lakh) as prize money, the tournament will be the year-ender on the squash calendar.
England's Nick Matthew, the world No. 2 and gold medallist at the Delhi Commonwealth Games, will go in as the top seed after defending champion, Egypt's Ramy Ashour, withdrew due to a hamstring injury.
Ashour injured himself during the World Open in Saudi Arabia in the first week of December. There were more withdrawals among the men as Egypt's Karim Darwish and France's Gregory Gaultier also decided to give the tournament a miss due to injuries.
England's Adrian Grant, seeded 15th, also withdrew with a torn abductor.
Matthew, who will start his campaign against a qualifier on Wednesday, said, “For me, the tournament is very important because I can take over the top spot from Ramy if I win here. There are a lot of ranking points at stake, even the qualification for the World Series final (in January). So, there will be added motivation for me.”
With a competitive men's field, most of the big names will be present with James Willstrop (world No. 5 and seeded second), Amr Shabana (world No. 6 and seeded third), Thierry Lincou (world No. 7), Peter Barker (No. 8), Laurens Jan Anjema and Mohammad El Shorbagy rounding off the top-10 on the PSA rankings.
India's Saurav Ghosal, ranked 22nd in the world and seeded 16th here, will start against a qualifier on Wednesday and could face Shabana in the round of 16.
In the women's draw, world No. 2 Jenny Duncalf has been seeded top after Malaysia's Nicol David pulled out. With a relatively smaller field of 16 players, India's Dipika Pallikal will be up against Holland's Vanessa Atkinson (third seed) while Joshna Chinappa will face Hong Kong's Annie Au (seeded sixth) in their opening matches.
World No. 7 Kasey Brown, seeded second here, said, “The WISPA Masters gain a lot of importance where rankings are concerned. I'll be aiming to break into the top five within the next six months.”