• Saudi International Squash Tournament •  


Saudi set for Squash Spectacular

Tuesday 23rd October sees the start of the richest squash event the world has ever seen. Set in the spectacular venue of Al Khobar's Sunset Beach resort, the Saudi International Squash Tournament 2007 boasts a $210,000 prize fund which has attracted every one of the world's top professional squash players to the kingdom's Eastern Province.

"I'm really looking forward to this one - it is the star in the crown - the ultimate event," said tournament director Robert Edwards, the Professional Squash Association's World Tour Technical Director, who has overseen hundreds of tournaments in a career spanning over twenty-two years.

He has been instrumental in showcasing this spectacular game with a "Show" style that brings an extra drama to a tournament. His record includes many World Opens - British Opens as well as dozens of Super Series events - from Wales to Saudi Arabia via such wonderful countries as India, America, Qatar, Holland, Kuwait, Bermuda, Canada, Belgium, England, Scotland, Ireland, South Africa, Hong Kong, where he has earned himself the title of "The Voice of Squash".

Since moving to the professional game in the 1980s, Edwards has witnessed a dramatic rise in the size and quality of new tournaments coming on to the PSA Tour. "The last two years have been especially dramatic with the Middle East driving a new revolution in Prize money on offer to the players. Saudi Arabia together with Kuwait and Qatar have all raised the bar," he added.

The Saudi International, brainchild of Ziad Al Turki of the ATCO group of companies, leads the world with the highest prize fund ever offered at a squash event.

"When Ziad first approached me in 2005 I was immediately struck by his tremendous love of the game. He clearly wanted to help the tour, especially to raise the standards for the players, and also to focus the eyes of the world on Saudi Arabia. He was young - exciting - full of energy and also a giant in the commercial world. I was walking on air when I left him. Here was a man with a desire that matched my own. I left his office wondering if squash had found the benefactor with the qualities to help lead professional squash into the 21st century."

The answer to Edwards' question came quickly with the advent of the first Saudi International which was held in Dammam and hosted at the magnificent Sunset Beach Resort in December 2005.

"The success story had started. We returned at the end of 2006 with an even bigger and better tournament. Now the formula continues but again Ziad has raised the bar - the biggest prize fund ever offered in the games history!!

"This visionary man continues to lead the world. He is the perfect promoter for me - he lets the professionals get on with what they do and quietly leads us all with a pointer here and there. His style has produced a loyal team and the admiration and respect of every player in the game. On a personal note my respect for what he is trying to do has been instrumental in me extending my retirement so that I can be at his shoulder to help push this revolution on through to the Saudi World Open in 2010."

Proceeds from the tournament are donated to the Eastern Province Rehabilitation Society, a charity benefiting the disabled children of the region.

"Having visited the hospital where the Society do their life saving work," Edwards said, "I saw at first hand the difference that they make to peoples lives," adding "it makes you very humble and puts life into perspective when you see some of the miracles that they perform - it is an honour for us to be associated with this amazing Society."

Favourites to take the title and the $31,000 winners' cheque are two Egyptian superstars. World number one and top seed Amr Shabana is a double world champion who won here last year in front of a packed crowd who enjoyed every moment of his triumph. His anticipated opponent in the final is Ramy Ashour, the teenager who has taken the squash world by storm since becoming the first player ever to win the world junior title twice.

The pair contested the finals in the last Hong Kong and Sheikha Al Saad Kuwait Opens, and Ramy's sensational run which includes claiming the ATCO-sponsored end-of-season Super Series Finals title in August, has taken him to within a few points of his friend and mentor at the top of the world rankings.

The crowd shouldn't expect an easy ride to the final for either of their favourites though – the men's professional game has never been so open, and the winner could come from any of the top names.

British Open champion Gregory Gaultier, runner-up to Shabana last year, will lead the French challenge alongside Thierry Lincou, with whom Gaultier contested the first ever all-French British Open final last month.

The English will have their say too, with newly-crowned US Open champion Nick Matthew coming to Saudi in good form along with James Willstrop, winner of the English Grand Prix, and of course reigning World Champion David Palmer of Australia is renowned for peaking for the big events.

Action starts at Sunset Beach at 13.00 on Tuesday 23rd October with evening sessions on the all-glass court starting at 6pm each day, through to the final which is scheduled for 8pm on Sunday 28th.
World stars all set for Saudi

The entry list for the 2007 Saudi International shows that all the world's top 23 players will be aiming for their share of the richest prize ever seen in squash this October.

The top 23 will be joined by a local wildcard, and 32 players battled for one of eight qualifying spots at St George's Hill in Surrey from 18-19 July.


2007 Draw

2007 Qualifying Competition,
18-19 July, St George's Hill

Saudi Raises Super Series
Platinum Event Prize Fund

Organisers of the Saudi Squash International have raised the prize-fund of the 2007 event to $210,000 - making it the richest event of the year on the PSA Tour.


"When we negotiated the five-year plan for the Saudi International with the PSA, we agreed that our tournament would be the highest paying tournament after the World Open every year."

"I feel that not only does Saudi Arabia deserve to get this recognition, but also we want - most importantly - to increase the prize money in squash. That's one of the main reasons I got into this in the first place!"

Vice-President of the ATCO Group


The Super Series Platinum event will take place in the Saudi Arabian coastal town of Al Khobar from 23-28 October, with qualifying at the St George's Hill Club in Weybridge, England, between 18-19 July.


Saudi International Squash 2007,
23-28 October


"Ziad Al-Turki and Atco Group have stepped up the momentum again, with the confirmation of a $10,000 increase in prize money for the upcoming Saudi International.

"The players are increasingly receiving the recognition their hard work and efforts warrant - in their pockets.

"That said, this further motivation will again increase competition as players know that more world ranking points are at stake.  Increased competition equates to higher levels of commitment and performance thus providing the best squash possible for spectators live, on television and on the internet."

PSA Chief Executive


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