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.
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
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
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
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
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.
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.
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
Vice-President of the ATCO Group
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
Saudi International Squash 2007,
and Atco Group have stepped up the momentum again, with the confirmation
of a $10,000 increase in prize money for the upcoming Saudi
"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