Blockbuster battles loom as Draws are released

The draws for the 2018/19 PSA World Championships presented by the Walter Family have been announced today, with some blockbuster fixtures in store at Chicago’s Union Station from 23rd Feb to 2nd March, reports PSA’s Sean Reuthe

128 of the world’s greatest male and female squash players will descend on Chicago for the most prestigious title in squash as they battle for a record prize purse of $1 million, which is the highest in the sport’s history.

Defending men’s champion and current World No.1 Mohamed ElShorbagy has been drawn against England’s Joshua Masters in round one and is featured on the same side of the draw as three-time winner Ramy Ashour.

ElShorbagy and Ashour contested both the 2012 and 2014 finals – both of which are regarded as two of the greatest squash matches of all time – and could potentially meet in the semi-finals.

Ashour – who is yet to play this season due to a knee injury – will play Australia’s Ryan Cuskelly in round one. The Egyptian is unseeded for the first time since the 2006 World Championships and will look to replicate his incredible title victory in 2014, where he came back from a six-month spell on the sidelines to lift the iconic trophy.

World No.2 Ali Farag is seeded on the opposite side of the draw as fellow Egyptians ElShorbagy and Ashour and he will take on England’s Daryl Selby in round one. Farag has the likes of Peru’s Diego Elias and New Zealand’s Paul Coll in his path to the final, while he is predicted to play World No.3 Simon Rösner in the semi-finals.

Reigning women’s World Champion Raneem El Welily begins her tournament against South Africa’s Alexandra Fuller as she bids to continue her strong start to the season, which has seen her take two PSA titles so far.

The 30-year-old was thwarted in the final of this tournament in 2014 and 2016, but finally got her hands on the trophy in December 2017 courtesy of a 3-1 victory against two-time winner Nour El Sherbini in Manchester.

12 months later, El Welily ended El Sherbini’s 31-month reign at World No.1 and the Egyptian duo – who contested six PSA finals last season – are seeded to do battle in the title decider once again.

El Welily is predicted to meet World No.3 Nour El Tayeb in the semi-finals, but El Tayeb must come through a difficult draw which contains 2013 World Champion Laura Massaro if she is to play to her seeding.

Meanwhile, El Sherbini begins her tournament against Satomi Watanabe of Japan and is predicted to play United States No.1 Amanda Sobhy in a mouthwatering third round fixture.

Eight-time World Champion Nicol David will be looking to add to her record haul but is seeded to play World No.5 Camille Serme as early as the third round. The Malaysian will need to end a two-match losing streak to the French player if she is to progress into the latter rounds.

New Zealand’s Joelle King will also be one of the frontrunners for the women’s title. The World No.4 claimed her first PSA Platinum title in November’s Hong Kong Open and is seeded to go head-to-head with El Sherbini for a place in the final.

The 2018/19 PSA World Championships will take place at Chicago’s Union Station, while matches from rounds one and two will also be held at MetroSquash and the University Club of Chicago.

Matches from Union Station will be shown live on SQUASHTV (rest of world) and Eurosport Player (Europe only), while the semi-finals and finals will also be shown live on mainstream broadcast channels around the world, including BT Sport, Fox Sports Australia and Astro.