• Punj Lloyd PSA Masters 2009 • 05-10 Dec • Mumbai •  





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TODAY in Mumbai ...    Fram in Mumbai, India, Steve in Whitley Bay


Squash Giants to play in city
by Pradeep Vijayakar
Masters is back


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09.30. London Bahrain. Great, I’ve got the most overweight passenger of the plane next to me, and as I’m not skinny, things are not going well.... (read more)
Squash giants to play in city
Pradeep Vijayakar

Mumbai: 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 Ivy Sports.

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 other greats.

After knocking up with Ga
lutier 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 open courts.''

Ghoshal plays N0 15 Cameron Piley on Saturday while the other Indian Ritwik Bhattacharya who is doubling up as organiser, plays on Sunday against Alister Walker.

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 quarters.<


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.

Revised draw

"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 doesn't win.

"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

The 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 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.


PSA Masters History:

2006 Bermuda:  Amr Shabana
2005 Bermuda:  Jonathon Power

2004 Qatar:       Peter Nicol
2003 Qatar:       John White
2002 Qatar:       Jonathon Power

2001 Egypt:       Jonathon Power
2000 Egypt:       Peter Nicol


Ritwik fancies home chances
in Mumbai

From the Times of India

Five 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.

"Squash 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 Gregory Gaultier.

"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."

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