London’s famous Queen’s Club will be graced by the greatest squash players on the planet this weekend as the ATCO PSA World Series Finals draw to a close.
Eight of the greatest male and female players in the squash world will be going head-to-head to decide who will be crowned champions after five days of action.
The pinnacle of the squash calendar returns to Queen’s for the fourth consecutive year from January 2-6 with the closing two days of the tournament being broadcast live on Sky Sports.
Only the top eight men and women in their respective World Series rankings qualify for this season-ending event and, as always, the competition will be fierce.
The squash elite will be split into two pools of four with all male eight players competing on each of the first three days of the tournament.
England’s James Willstrop, Nick Matthew and Peter Barker will all compete for a shot at the men’s title against some of the world’s best players.
Current world number two Willstrop is England’s most successful junior player of all time and has enjoyed a more than fruitful 2012.
As well as reaching the finals of the Tournament of Champions and El Gouna International, the Yorkshireman claimed his 16th Tour title at the North American Open with a comprehensive victory over Ashour.
Willstrop is unlikely to have it all his own way, though. Fellow Englishman and two-time world champion Nick Matthew defeated him to triumph at the Tournament of Champions and then went on to lift his third British Open title in May.
Missing from Queen’s Club this year will be the sport’s current world number one Ramy Ashmour.
A world champion at both junior and senior level, the gifted Egyptian outlasted his opposition to take top honours at this season’s El Gouna International and US Open, but a hamstring injury sustained at the recent Qatar PSA World Championship in Doha forces him out of this year’s tournament.
In the women’s event, defending champion Nicol David and Raneem El Weleily were the first two qualifiers.
The former is the current world champion and the Malaysian has stood tall at the top of the world rankings for over six years.
El Weleily knows she can be beaten though. The Egyptian got the better of her more prolific rival for the very first time in the final of the 2012 Women’s Malaysian Open.
British representation in the women’s competition is provided by 2012 British National champion Laura Massaro and last year’s semi-finalist Jenny Duncalf, who represented England at the 2010 Commonwealth Games in Delhi.
All the action throughout the week will take place on a special and spectacular state-of-the-art Z-Court, which has been designed to ensure uninterrupted 360-degree views of the high-octane action through use of the latest technology in glass construction.
Following the unprecedented success of last year’s ATCO PSA World Series Finals, Sky Sports agreed a new deal in December to continue broadcasting the flagship PSA World Tour event.
Sky Sports will screen live high-definition coverage of the semi-finals and finals, hosted by Alec Wilkinson, from both the men’s and women’s competitions over the weekend of January 5-6.
“Last January’s coverage of the Finals was extremely well received throughout the squash world and we are delighted to extend the live coverage on Sky Sports into a second season,” said PSA chief executive Alex Gough.
He added: “We were able to showcase of all the improvements we have made in televising squash and the ‘rubber-stamp’ approval of Sky Sports will help a lot towards our case of inclusion into the 2020 Olympic Games.”
Barney Francis, managing director of Sky Sports, said: “This announcement reinforces our commitment to offering a wide variety of live sports for our customers.
“Sky Sports caters for a broad range of diverse content and our recent rights renewals give us the strongest line up of live sport for our viewers to watch at home or on the move.”
Saturday 5th January Men’s & Women’s Semi Finals LIVE: 6.00pm-10.00pm – Sky Sports 3 Sunday 6th January Men’s & Women’s Finals LIVE: 4.00pm-7.00pm – Sky Sports 3