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13 Jun 2024

Gaultier Focussed On Third Successive Super Series Finals Final

12 Mar 2009

After Egyptian successes in all but two of last year's Professional Squash Association Super Series championships, it seems likely that a player from the Land of the Pharaohs will triumph in this month's ATCO Super Series Finals. The flagship PSA Tour event takes place for the first time at the world-famous The Queen's Club in London from 14-17 March.

The star-studded field includes four Egyptians - led by world number one Karim Darwish, and including World Open champion Ramy Ashour and last year's runner-up Amr Shabana, who this year relinquished a 33-month reign at the top of the world rankings.

Darwish, Ashour and Shabana each won two Super Series events last year - with fellow countryman Wael El Hindi picking up the Petrosport International Championship title in Cairo in August.

But Frenchman Gregory Gaultier, who reached three finals but failed to win one of the 2008 ranking titles, is the defending champion - and aiming to reach the Super Series Finals final for the third year in a row.

The annual Super Series Finals event brings together the top eight qualifiers from the 2008 PSA Super Series World Tour. The ATCO Super Series Finals - The Queen's Club 2009 will feature two pools of four players, leading to finals which will produce a 1-8 finish.

Title-holder Gaultier is one of two Frenchmen in the field. The 26-year-old world No3 from Aix-en-Provence - runner-up in last year's Davenport Virginia Pro Championship, Cathay Pacific Hong Kong Open and the Saudi International - faces Australian David Palmer in the opening match of the championship.

Sixth seed Palmer made his Super Series Finals debut in 2001, finishing as runner-up before claiming the title for the only time the following year. The 32-year-old from New South Wales, now based in Boston, USA, established two notable Tour milestones last year - in September recording his 50th PSA Tour final appearance and in December marking his 100th successive month in the world's top ten.

Queen's Club could provide the setting for next milestone for the 2008 Dunlop British Open champion: winning his 25th Tour title!

Karim Darwish, the 27-year-old from Cairo largely overshadowed by his illustrious compatriots Shabana and Ashour in recent years, blasted past them all to take over the coveted world number one ranking in January after a sensational 2008 campaign which included six PSA Tour final appearances and title triumphs in three.

Seeded to win the Super Series Finals trophy in only his second appearance in the event, Darwish faces fellow countryman Wael El Hindi in his first match in the ATCO Group. El Hindi, the eighth seed from Cairo and a protégé of British squash legend Jonah Barrington, is making his debut in the championship.

For the first time in the event's 16-year history, only one Briton will feature in the 2009 Super Series Finals line-up. England number one James Willstrop, competing in the event for the fifth year in a row and winner of the 2008 Davenport Virginia Pro Championship, faces 2007 champion Ramy Ashour, the third seed, in his opening Prince Group match on Saturday.

Ashour, the 21-year-old from Cairo who has taken the sport by storm since joining the senior circuit after becoming the first man to win two world junior titles, is making only his second appearance in the event - after winning the title in his first, two years ago!

Frenchman Thierry Lincou will be marking the longest unbroken association with the event as he competes in the Super Series Finals for the eighth year in a row. Runner-up in 2002 and 2005 and champion in 2004, the 32-year-old No7 seed from Marseille takes on second seed Amr Shabana in his first match in the Prince Group. It will be the pair's 19th Tour meeting since 2003, and their fifth clash in the event in six years.

2008 Super Series event winners:

Bear Stearns Tournament of Champions: Ramy Ashour
Davenport Virginia Pro Championship: James Willstrop
Kuwait Open: Amr Shabana
Dunlop British Open: David Palmer
Petrosport International Championship: Wael El Hindi
Hi-Tec World Open: Ramy Ashour
Qatar Classic: Karim Darwish
Cathay Pacific Hong Kong Open: Amr Shabana
Saudi International: Karim Darwish