IMPROVING at squash is a learning process. Just ask Chris Simpson. After facing Amr Shabana in the first round of the Tournament of Champions in New York, and meeting Nick Matthew in the Swedish Open, he has drawn top seed Ramy Ashour here in Richmond.
He won’t be complaining, though. It sure beats battling through qualifying.
South African Steve Coppinger, who has hit the top 20 after doing so well at the ToC and reaching the final of the Windy City Open, meets Germany’s Simon Rosner in the first round, hoping to spring another major upset after beating England’s Adrian Grant in New York.
Great to se Hisham Ashour, Ramy’s brother, back in Richmond again. He meets Indian Saurav Ghosal in the first round in a match that’s a tough one to call.
Scotland’s Alan Clyne, like Chris Simpson, relishes the fact that he has climbed up the rankings to avoid the qualifying competition. His reward is a first round tie with reigning champion James Willstrop. No love lost between England and Scotland? We’ll see.
In the bottom half of the draw, former world champion Nick Matthew meets Dutch number one Laurens Jan Anjema in the first round. LJ is a tough competitor and will be keen to show why he reached the world top ten in 2012.
Number four seed Gregory Gaultier meets a qualifier in the first round, and is seeded to meet the winner of Adrian Grant or wild card Shahier Razik in the second round. With both Grant and Razik renowned as among the best “grinders” in the word of squash, that is a tough one to call.
BIG BATTLES IN THE FIRST ROUND
Hisham Ashour v Saurav Ghosal
Adrian Grant v Shahier Razik
Amr Shabana v Nicolas Mueller
Max Lee v Olli Tuominen
SEEDED QUARTER-FINAL LINE-UP:
(1) Ramy Ashour (Egypt) v (8) Omar Mosaad (Egypt)
(3) James Willstrop (England) v (5) Karim Darwish (Egypt)
(4) Gregory Gaultier (France) v (7) Amr Shabana (Egypt)
(2) Nick Matthew (England) v (6) Peter Barker (England)
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