World No1 Status & Year-End Super Series Points At Stake In 2006 US Open
10 Nov 06
With England's recent British Open champion Nick Matthew moving up to No7 in the world rankings - and Egyptian teenager Ramy Ashour pressing forward an impressive four spots to No9, playing better than ever and looking to squeeze by Egypt's world number one Amr Shabana - this year's US Open could well line up a new world number one.
The prestigious US Open - the seventh PSA Super Series event of the year, from 12-16 November - will begin at the Back Bay Events Center and move onto the stage of the comfortable 1100-seater John Hancock Hall in Boston. The new venue, coupled with its PSA-sanctioned Super Series level designation, has attracted a top-class field including the top eight players in the world.
Shabana has reigned supreme for eight months, but the US Open could easily change that. With the release of November's rankings, England's 23-year-old James Willstrop returns to No4 and Frenchman Gregory Gaultier, also 23, leaps two places to his best-ever fifth place.
Also of interest is Monday night's potential match between Ashour and Anthony Ricketts, the world No6 from Australia - both of whom are contenders for the eighth and final spot in the year-end Super Series Finals. With just three Super Series events left in the season (US Open, Pakistan Open and Saudi International) - and Ashour currently ahead by a mere 387 points - it is truly anyone's take.
Not to be ignored, veterans David Palmer (Australia) and Thierry Lincou (France), holding steady at No2 and No3 respectively, are also in top form. Palmer, in particular, is in the hunt, a mere 246 points off Shabana's average.
John Nimick, US Open tournament chairman, says: "The squash season is cooking. Shabana, an incredible player, has his work cut out for him, with both veterans and up-and-comers looking to bump him from the coveted number one spot. I'm thrilled that the US Open could well be the starting point of some big upsets."
1st round draw:
 Amr Shabana (EGY) v Qualifier
 Ong Beng Hee (MAS) v Cameron Pilley (AUS)
 Nick Matthew (ENG) v Qualifier
 Olli Tuominen (FIN) v Qualifier
 Anthony Ricketts (AUS) v Mark Chaloner (ENG)
 Ramy Ashour (EGY) v Qualifier
 James Willstrop (ENG) v Laurens Jan Anjema (NED)
 Graham Ryding (CAN) v Qualifier
 Wael El Hindi (EGY) v Qualifier
 Gregory Gaultier (FRA) v Liam Kenny (IRL)
 Stewart Boswell (AUS) v Mark Heather (ENG)
 Thierry Lincou (FRA) v Jean-Michel Arcucci (FRA)
 Adrian Grant (ENG) v Qualifier
 Lee Beachill (ENG) v Rafael F Alarcon (BRA)
 John White (SCO) v Hisham Mohd Ashour (EGY)
 David Palmer (AUS) v Qualifier