Masters Championship Marks Major PSA Return To India
24 Nov 2009
The Professional Squash Association is celebrating the first PSA Super Series event in India for 12 years with next month's staging of the Punj Lloyd PSA Masters, a $152,500 championship featuring the top 32 players in the world, in Mumbai.
Promoted by Ivy Sports, led by Raj Arora and PSA member Ritwik Bhattacharya, the Punj Lloyd PSA Masters will be held at the Bombay Gymkhana from 5-10 December.
It will be the 8th staging of the PSA Masters, the only PSA Tour event which is open exclusively to the top 32 players in the world - in this case, the 2009 event entry being based on the October PSA World Rankings.
The event was last held in April 2006 in Bermuda, where current world No2 Amr Shabana claimed the title for the first time after beating England's Peter Nicol in a five-game final. It was Nicol, the former world number one who retired in 2006, who won the inaugural PSA Masters in 2000, before going on to secure the title a second time four years later.
Interestingly, it was Nicol who won the last major PSA event to be staged in India - the Mahindra International in Mumbai in 1997, which the former Scot won for the third year in a row.
Lee Beachill, the PSA's Chief Operating Officer, is delighted that India will be welcoming back the world's top players to compete in a one of the biggest PSA Tour events of the year: "We applaud Ivy Sports and their sponsors Punj Lloyd in deciding to stage one of the Tour's biggest events in Mumbai, an Indian city where squash has always had a loyal following.
"Our grateful thanks also go Cyrus Poncha and the Squash Rackets Federation of India for all their help - and we look forward to working closely with them in raising the profile of squash in India.
"All our top players are looking forward to returning to India's largest city and competing for one of the richest prizes in the sport this year," Beachill concluded.
Egypt's world No3 Karim Darwish is seeded to win the 2009 Punj Lloyd PSA Masters after meeting second seed Gregory Gaultier, the Frenchman who succeeded him at the top of the PSA rankings this month, in the final.
But both will be wary of a number of players - not only former champion Amr Shabana, the third seed from Egypt who won the World Open title for the fourth time earlier this month, and his compatriot Ramy Ashour, the fourth seed who was the 2008 world champion, but also fifth seed Nick Matthew, the Englishman who this week won the Qatar Classic crown for the first time after picking up his second British Open title in September.
Two noteworthy first clashes thrown up by the draw include Ramy Ashour v Hisham Mohd Ashour, a family duel between the sport's most successful brothers; and Amr Shabana v Renan Lavigne, a potential boardroom battle between the PSA's Egyptian President and French Vice-President!