ē 9th Qatar Classic Squash Championship  ē 17-23 Nov 2009 ē Doha ē  





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TODAY in Doha ... daily reports
Grinham & Shabana
out of Qatar ...

Two of the favourites to lift the 9th edition of the Qatar Classic will not be making in to Doha this week, for somewhat differing reasons.

Men's third seed Amr Shabana, who collected his fourth World Open title last week in Kuwait, has withdrawn with a shoulder injury.

Natalie Grinham, the world No3 from the Netherlands, has also withdrawn, as the 31-year-old is almost three months pregnant and has been unable to train or play since her withdrawal from the Hong Kong Open last month. Whilst Grinham is delighted with her planned pregnancy, she did expect to be able to compete a little bit longer.

"Iím very happy to become a mum for the first time. I expected to carry on playing until the end of this year, but unfortunately I havenít been feeling well at all over the past weeks," said the former Australian who won a record three gold medals in the Commonwealth Games in 2006.

The Dutch player, whose first child is due next year, is determined to make a comeback after giving birth: "Iím planning to come back onto the professional circuit as there is still a world title that Iím looking for," said Grinham, who is a four-time Womenís World Open silver medallist.

Grinham had a successful 2009 although she was out for more than two months at the beginning of the year with a severe case of whooping cough. After fighting her way back to extreme fitness, she became European Champion for the first time in June, before winning two WISPA tournaments (in France and New Zealand) and making the final at both the World Games in Chinese Taipei and the World Open in Amsterdam.

This year also marked the first time that the former Australian represented the Netherlands in a team event, after taking up the nationality of her husband Tommy Berden at the beginning of 2008. Natalie led the Dutch team to a silver medal at the European Team Championships in Sweden in May.

Grinham's withdrawal elevates her older sister Rachael to the position of second seed in the $74k WISPA Gold tournament. World champion Nicol David heads the draw with Englandís Alison Waters and Jenny Duncalf holding the third and fourth spot.

Darwish Seeded to
defend Qatar Classic Crown

Egypt's former world number one Karim Darwish is seeded to retain the crown he won for the first time last year in the 2009 Qatar Squash Classic, the $147,500  event which takes place for the eighth year at the Khalifa International Tennis & Squash Complex in the Qatar capital Doha from 19-23 November.

But fellow Egyptian Amr Shabana, the 'Prince of Cairo' who became world champion for the fourth time at the Kuwait World Open earlier this month, has been forced to withdraw from the seventh Super Series event of the year after sustaining a shoulder injury in Kuwait.

Darwish, the 28-year-old from Cairo who has competed in all seven previous Qatar Classics, faces a qualifier in the first round - and is expected to face Egyptian rival and third seed Ramy Ashour, the 2008 World Open champion, in the semi-finals.

In a repeat of last year's quarter-final, the draw predicts that the top seed will meet Gregory Gaultier, the 2007 runner-up, in Monday's final. The clash would be the first meeting between the pair since the second-seeded Frenchman succeeded Darwish as world number one this month.

But England's Nick Matthew will also be eager to perform in Doha after celebrating a career-high world number four ranking this month. The fourth seed from Sheffield takes on compatriot Jonathan Kemp in the first round - and is expected to meet Gaultier in the semis, where the Yorkshireman will be looking to avenge his defeat in the Kuwait quarters.

Distinguished Australian David Palmer will be hoping that it is fifth time lucky in his eighth successive appearance in the event. The former world number one reached the finals in 2001, 2002, 2005 and 2007 - and on all occasions finished as runner-up! Seeded five, Palmer takes on a qualifier in the first round before an anticipated quarter-final meeting with Matthew.

After an ankle injury caused him to miss last year's event, former champion James Willstrop will be keen to stamp his authority on the 2009 championship. Winner of the event in 2005, the sixth seed from England lines up against a qualifier in the opening round, before a likely quarter-final clash with Ramy Ashour.


Tue 17th, Day One

Qualifying gets under way on Tuesday, with the men's qualifying draw followed by up to 16 men's matches, and eight women's with the winners going through to face the eight seeds - who have byes - for a place in one of the season's richest main draws.

After the diversion of the
Brazil v England football friendly
in Doha, it's down to the serious business tomorrow ...

Ninth time in Doha

Always one of the most popular events on the Tour, the long-running Qatar Classic fits nicely into the calendar towards the end of November, with all of the world's best heading for the Khalifa Squash & Tennis Complex in Doha.

In the men's draw defending champion Karim Darwish is top seed, although he has been overtaken as World #1 by Gregory Gaultier, seeded two. New world champion Amr Shabana is in Gaultier's half while fourth seed Ramy Ashour, is slated for a semi-final with Darwish.

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