•  Davenport North American Open • 23-Feb to 02-Mar 2013 • Richmond, VA •  

based on the January 2013 PSA rankings - by Alan Thatcher - Photos Patricia Lyons


Born: September 30th, 1987. Resides: Cairo.
Best ranking to date: 1

Squash skills are programmed into the DNA of all Egyptians, with Ramy Ashour the master of them all. When he is in full, creative flow, he is able to produce the most incredible array of shots ever seen in squash.

Ramy is back on top of the world and returns to Richmond as world number one, world champion, top seed and proud winner once again of the traditional curtain-raiser to the new year, the Tournament of Champions in New York.

Click on YouTube and check out his air guitar with the racquet after one astonishing rally in the ToC final with Gregory Gaultier.

Last year Ramy rocked up in Richmond with his mind fretting over a hamstring injury.

His only worry this year is what new shots he can conjure up to entertain his huge and adoring fan base at the Westwood Club.

Ramy reached the final of every tournament he entered in 2012.

He has reached the last four Richmond finals, but after defeats to Nick Matthew (twice) and James Willstrop, he wants it back this year.

By the way, that $48,000 he won in the World Open final comes in handy.


Born: July 25th, 1980. Resides: Sheffield
Best ranking to date: 1

Nick Matthew may be 32 years old but he is showing no signs of his fierce competitive nature receding. He has just signed a new racquet deal with Dunlop, suggesting that the two-time world champion is planning on being around for a while yet.

Not only is this guy an amazing champion, and one of the toughest competitors ever to walk onto court to battle it out in this most brutal of sports, he is also one of the game’s greatest ambassadors. Using Twitter and Facebook, he promotes every good cause that will benefit the game he loves, and especially the Olympic campaign.

NAO champion in 2010 and 2011, last year Nick suffered a bit of a meltdown in Richmond, failing to finish off significant leads against Ramy Ashour in the quarter-finals.

Back home in England, he has just helped the national federation to set up the new Big Hit campaign to attract more young people to the sport. The media launch took place at his own Hallamshire Club in Sheffield, where the show court is named after him.

Last year he claimed two milestones, winning a third Canary Wharf Classic final, beating James Willstrop in the final, and a hat-trick of British Open triumphs, overcoming Ramy Ashour in the decider.

He missed out on a third consecutive Richmond title, but this year he will be back, fully fired up to put things right.


Born: August 15th, 1983.
Resides: Leeds
Best ranking to date: 1

NAO champion in 2008 and 2012, James Willstrop brought a brand of squash to Richmond last year that illustrated why he was top of the world rankings for 11 of those 12 months.

His tight, disciplined style of play confused everybody. Here was a guy playing supposedly negative, defensive squash that, amazingly, also turned out to be devastatingly effective in an attacking sense.

He was even apologizing to the crowd, for heaven’s sake, for his “failure” to allow the other guy into the match.

He was literally squeezing the life out of his opponents. His shots were so tight that he was giving them nothing to hit. Just ask Ramy, who collapsed three-love in the final as Willstrop hit such tight lines that the flamboyant Egyptian was unable to unveil his attacking repertoire.

Willstrop’s approach is more subtle, more gifted, and certainly more effective. He chopped Ramy in 51 minutes of sublime, almost sadistic torture. His arch-rival Nick Matthew sportingly Tweeted: “That was a master class from James in the final.”

Having slipped to three in the January rankings, Willstrop is not enjoying life two rungs down the ladder. He wants to get back to the top.


Born: December 23rd, 1982.
Resides: Aix-en-Provence
Best ranking to date: 1

Fatherhood is producing an agreeable state of mind for this talented Frenchman who should have had harnessed a much bigger collection of silverware in his trophy cabinet.

He claims to have calmed his excitable Gallic temperament after becoming a father to a little Nolan for the first time recently, and his more mature approach to the game is exactly what he needs to turn near misses into success.

Grégory has got an immense talent, and like all greats, he added to his own game the best of his mentors, Jonathon Power, Thierry Lincou and Shabana. His ability to control side-wall exchanges is breathtakingly effective, but his predilection for allowing his brain to switch from calm control to hysterical boiling point has cost him far too many major successes.

Runner-up to Ramy Ashour in the Tournament of Champions final in New York, his semi-final victory over Nick Matthew, following a crucial victory over the same opponent in the final of the new Netsuite Open in San Francisco in October, suggests we may be seeing a change of order at the top.

For many years I have been writing that this is the year that Gaultier will put it all together and start delivering the big trophies.

Is 2013 the year? He certainly made it look that way when he beat Nick Matthew in straight games to win the Swedish Open.


Born: August 29th, 1981.
Resides: Cairo
Best ranking to date: 1

Karim loves to recall his triumph over England’s James Willstrop in the 2011 World Team Championships final in Paderborn, Germany. The video clip is top item on his Facebook page!

Winning on a penalty stroke, he is instantly engulfed by team-mates on the glass court as Queen’s ‘We Are The Champions’ echoes around the arena at full blast.

His last big PSA win was in the final of the Macau Open in China in October, beating fellow Egyptian Mohamed El Shorbagy in the final.

At 31, he is still a class act and a formidable opponent. He recently posted on Facebook: “One day the world will see 11 Egyptians in the world top ten!”

Karim is married to fellow squash player Engy Kheirallah and father of a young son, Omar.


Born: September 26th, 1983.
Resides: London.
Best ranking to date: 5

Tough guy Peter Barker climbed to a career-best number five in the PSA rankings in 2012.

It was the reward for being one of the most consistent players at the top end of the rankings, constantly reaching his seeded position in tournaments and frequently going one better, as he showed with a massive performance to beat Gregory Gaultier in the British Open.

It was a gutsy, physical, emotional encounter, with a hot-blooded London crowd cheering their local hero to victory at the O2 Arena.

This 6ft tall leftie is adding more attacking shots to his repertoire as he matures.

It would be great to see him battle his way into more finals to upset the seedings and provide some golden moments for a player who epitomises everything you need to know about the work ethic required to reach the top ten in squash.


Born: July 20th, 1979. Resides: New York
Best ranking to date: 1

Amr Shabana is still going strong. Very strong. Looking fitter than ever and playing sublime, controlled squash, he overcame Nick Matthew to win the PSA World Series Finals in London in January.

It was his second consecutive triumph on the stylish Z Court installed at London’s illustrious Queen’s Club, having beaten Gregory Gaultier in the final the year before. Shabana was delighted to feature in a spectacle that was broadcast live in the UK on the Sky Sports channel.

At 33, he is the oldest player competing at the top of the rankings but seems to be maturing like a fine wine.

His racquet swing is as near to perfection as is humanly possible, and his ability to stun opponents with a sudden change of pace and direction is a breathtaking skill.
On his day he is still showing that he is capable of beating the very best in the world, and long may that continue.

All of the emerging Egyptian players look up to him with an undisguised respect, which is not surprising for the only player in the modern game with four World Open titles to his credit.


Born: March 17th 1988. Resides: Cairo
Best ranking to date: 8

Fast-moving, hard-hitting, a giant of a competitor.

At 6ft 4in he is not far behind James Willstrop in laying claim to the title of the giant of the tour.

Another hugely talented player to emerge from the Heliopolis Club in Cairo, Mosaad may have slipped under the radar because of the media attention afforded to so many of his Egyptian colleagues. But make no mistake, he is in the top ten on merit and looks like climbing even higher.

A certain challenger for Cam Pilley’s world record of 175mph on the radar gun, Mosaad combines power with the expected Egyptian artistry at the front of the court.

Against Ramy in Qatar's World in 2012, he produced probably his best squash, and the match they both produced was brilliant and breathtaking!

In 2012 he won the Meco Open in Hong Kong and the Malaysian Open in Kuala Lumpur, beating England’s Adrian Grant in a final lasting 112 minutes.

Already this year he has reached the quarter-finals in the Tournament of Champions in New York and the semi-finals of the Motor City Open in Detroit.


[HOME] [Today] [Info] [Draws] [Gallery] [History] [Players] [Twitter]