US Open Welcomes World's Elite To Philadelphia
9 Oct 2013
Eyes of the squash world will be focussed over the next week on Philadelphia, where the fifth PSA World Series event of the year has attracted the world's elite to the Delaware Investments U.S. Open Squash Championships, staged for the third year in a row at Drexel University.
The event's top four seeds have all topped the world rankings over the last four years - with top-seeded Frenchman Gregory Gaultier, the world No2, looking to make amends for a runner-up finish last year by winning the men's title for the second time since 2006.
But England's No3 seed Nick Matthew will also be looking to pick up the trophy for a second time after wresting it from Gaultier in 2007 in New York.
Gaultier begins his fourth US Open campaign against Christopher Gordon, the US wildcard who celebrated a significant breakthrough in March when, against expectations, he won the US National title for the first time.
The 30-year-old from Aix-en-Provence is enjoying one of his best career runs since reaching world number one in 2009. Winner of the Abierto Mexicano de Raquetas in Mexico last month, Gaultier is expected to notch up his fourth Tour final appearance in a row when he reaches the US Open climax next Friday (18 October).
On the other side of the draw, world No4 Matthew kicks off his eighth US Open campaign since 2003 against a qualifier. The 33-year-old from Sheffield, who topped the world rankings throughout 2011, is expected to reach the semi-finals for the third year in a row - where his opponent is predicted to be national rival James Willstrop.
Second seed Willstrop, runner-up to Matthew in 2007 and world number one last year, will be eager to get his hands on the trophy for the first time. The world No3 from Harrogate opens his 2013 bid against fellow countryman Chris Simpson, the new world No21.
A Willstrop/Matthew clash could not fail to be one of the Philadelphia highlights. The encounter would be the pair's 31st Tour meeting since 2001 (with Matthew holding a 22-8 advantage) - but their first for more than a year!
Egyptian interest in the event will be led by Karim Darwish, the fourth seed who topped the world rankings from January 2009. The 32-year-old from Cairo takes on Australian Ryan Cuskelly in the opening round - and may have to overcome fast-rising fellow countryman Mohamed Elshorbagy, the No5 seed, in the quarter-finals before a predicted semi-final clash with Gaultier.
Players from 18 nations will compete in the qualifying competition for eight places in the main draw.
At 40 years old, Scotland's John White is looking to become one of the oldest competitors ever to make the main draw. As Head Coach at Drexel University, the former world number one will surely have considerable local support.
But White, a US Open semi-finalist in 1999, has a tough first round opponent in Alfredo Avila, a rapidly-rising 22-year-old from Mexico who, ranked 55 in the world, is the sixth highest-ranked player in the qualifying draw.
Men's 1st round draw:
 Gregory Gaultier (FRA) v [WC] Christopher Gordon (USA)
Marwan Elshorbagy (EGY) v Adrian Waller (ENG)
Mathieu Castagnet (FRA) v Qualifier
 Borja Golan (ESP) v Shawn Delierre (CAN)
 Mohamed Elshorbagy (EGY) v Omar Abdel Aziz (EGY)
Alan Clyne (SCO) v Qualifier
Gregoire Marche (FRA) v Qualifier
 Karim Darwish (EGY) v Ryan Cuskelly (AUS)
 Nick Matthew (ENG) v Qualifier
Nicolas Mueller (SUI) v Qualifier
Henrik Mustonen (FIN) v Joe Lee (ENG)
 Peter Barker (ENG) v Qualifier
 Tarek Momen (EGY) v Qualifier
Simon Rosner (GER) v Julian Illingworth (USA)
Karim Abdel Gawad (EGY) v Qualifier
 James Willstrop (ENG) v Chris Simpson (ENG)
Abdullah Al Muzayen (KUW) v Joe Chapman (IVB)
Jan Koukal (CZE) v Ramit Tandon (IND)
Jaymie Haycocks (ENG) v Dylan Murray (USA)
Matthew Karwalski (AUS) v Faraz Khan (USA)
Eddie Charlton (ENG) v Dane Sharp (CAN)
Chris Ryder (ENG) v Todd Harrity (USA)
Mohamed Abouelghar (EGY) v Chris Hanson (USA)
Shaun le Roux (RSA) v Gilly Lane (USA)
Shahier Razik (CAN) v Ben Coleman (ENG)
Charles Sharpes (ENG) v Gonzalo Miranda (ARG)
Yasir Ali Butt (PAK) v Sergio Lopez (MEX)
Muhd Asyraf Azan (MAS) v Arthur Gaskin (IRL)
Steven Finitsis (AUS) v Imran Khan Riaz (PAK)
Rex Hedrick (AUS) v Gavin Jones (WAL)
Alfredo Avila (MEX) v John White (SCO)
Campbell Grayson (NZL) v Jamie Macaulay (SCO)
Official event website: www.usopensquash.com/