TODAY in Mumbai ...
Fram in Mumbai, India, Steve in Whitley Bay
Squash giants to
play in city
While the Brabourne Stadium is agog with the India-Sri Lanka
Test match, India's first Test venue the Bombay Gymkhana ground,
has metamorphosed into a squash arena which has pulled in the
who's who of the sport for $152,500 championship Punj Lloyd PSA
Masters, the first Professional Squash Association Super Series
event to be staged in India in 12 years. It is being promoted by
The Bombay Gymkhana
held the India-England Test match in 1933-34. It also held the
first Mahindra Open squash way back in 1994. The current event
had blow before it began with World No 1 Karim Darwish
following a back injury. The 28-year old Egyptian was top seeded
to win the Darwish, who had regained his world number one
ranking just two days ago has topped the PSA world squash
rankings for all but one month of this year.
He will be
succeeded as top seed by Gregory Gaultier, the
Frenchman who became world number one for the first time in
November. Egypt's Amr Shabana, the reigning
World Open champion and the last winner of the PSA Masters title
in 2006 in Bermuda, is elevated to No 2 seed. But squash fans
will see 2008 World champ Ramy Ashour and the
After knocking up with Galutier on
the open air courts, Ashour said, "I felt
I was home in Egypt. It's like the venue we vhave
near the Pyramids.''
Ramy had come to India a few years
ago and one the Herald Maritime Open Rs 4-lakh jackpot at Otters
Club . "I bought a Peugot with that
money,'' he said.
Asked if the open courts and the dew
factor would have problems, Indian champion Saurav
Ghoshal said, "In Kuwait where
we play in a few weeks time it is freezing while we play in the
Ghoshal plays N0 15 Cameron Piley
on Saturday while the other Indian Ritwik Bhattacharya
who is doubling up as organiser, plays on Sunday against
The only one of the current lot
who played in any of the three Mahindra events in India is
Aussie David Palmer. "As
a 19-year-old I lost in the one qualifiers of the one played at
the Brabourne Stadium.'' Palmer, now 33,
is No 5 seed and has a tough opponent in Wael
El Hindi after the
Darwish To Miss Mumbai Masters
Just two days after regaining his world number one ranking,
Karim Darwish has been forced to withdraw from this week's
Punj Lloyd PSA Masters in Mumbai as the result of a back injury.
The 28-year-old Egyptian, who has topped the world rankings for
all but one month of this year, was top seed for the $152k
championship - the first PSA Super Series event to be staged in
India for 12 years.
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.
Darwish is succeeded as top seed by Gregory Gaultier, the
Frenchman who became world number one for the first time in
November. Egypt's Amr Shabana, the reigning World Open
champion and the last winner of the PSA Masters title in 2006 in
Bermuda, is elevated to No2 seed.
Frenchman Mathieu Castagnet, the world No58 from Le Mans,
is the lucky recipient of the vacant slot in the 32-man PSA
Masters draw and faces Shabana in the opening round.
"Hopefully, I can go out and win.
The top-ranked players will be the main challengers, I'd be
extremely surprised if someone out of the top 5-6 players
"Playing such an important tournament in India will lead to
greater crowd support for the home players, but it can also
bring you down because the pressure can get to you."
"Though the federation has done a lot, a proactive and hands-on
approach also needs to be adopted.
"Schools need to get involved for children to take up squash at
a young age, or else I have to be the world champion for squash
to become popular!"
The Masters is back
first PSA Super Series event to be held in India for 12
years will be next month's staging of the Punj Lloyd PSA
Masters, a $152k championship featuring the top 32 players
in the world, in Mumbai.
Promoted by Ivy Sports, led by Raj Arora and
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
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
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
"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.
PSA Masters History:
2006 Bermuda: Amr Shabana
2005 Bermuda: Jonathon Power
2004 Qatar: Peter Nicol
2003 Qatar: John White
2002 Qatar: Jonathon
2001 Egypt: Jonathon
2000 Egypt: Peter Nicol
Ritwik fancies home chances
From the Times of India
time Indian national champion Ritwik Bhattacharya is
excited ahead of the Punj Lloyd PSA Masters at the Bombay
Gymkhana in Mumbai and feels the home conditions should
favour India's chances.
The $152,000 tournament has the world's top-32 players
competing in the season-ending Masters Event with no
qualifiers in the main draw.
Ritwik says squash is picking up fast in the country and is
the sport of the future.
is becoming popular in India. The sport has developed now
and is a part of Commonwealth Games and Asian Games. Around
700-800 juniors in India are playing squash and are
performing well at the national and the international level.
Squash is the sport of future," Ritwik said.
The 30-year-old, who is ranked 75th in the world, draws
strength from his good showing at home, where he scored his
biggest win of his career over the then World No.11
Malaysian Azlan Iskandar en route to winning Maharashtra
State Open Squash Open Championships last year.
"I always play well at home. I defeated Azlan last
year, so I am quite excited. The fact that Saurav (Ghosal)
has also qualified means that two Indians will be playing in
the tournament. Saurav has been playing well recently and I
am happy for him," Ritwik said.
"Punj Lloyd PSA Masters is a unique concept. One get to
compete against the top 32 players of the world in your own
backyard and nothing could be better. It will be wonderful
experience to interact with the world's top players who are
better in skill and experience. The youngsters will gain a
lot from the tournament."
"They can absorb so much seeing these players play. I am
friends with all of them," he said.
Ritwik, who has won eight PSA tour titles to date, has been
plagued by a chronic back problem of late but insists he is
fit and working hard to pull off a good performance.
"I am training in Mumbai. Earlier in the year, I had gone
for a month's training to Malaysia and a three-month
training to France in April where I trained with World No.1
"I had an injury in my lower back and I had to pull out of
my favourite tournament Hong Kong Open. I played in Denmark
but didn't have a good outing. I am working hard for this
tournament and I am confident of performing well."