Title-holder Ramy Ashour is on a semi-final collision course with Britain’s two-time champion Nick Matthew after today’s draw for the $275,000 AJ Bell PSA World Squash Championship in Manchester.
But the Egyptian, bidding for a third world crown in five years, insists: “The draw will not decide whether you are going to win the World Championship.”
However, while Matthew, British number one and world number four, faces a qualifier in his first match, Ashour must tackle dangerous Dutchman Laurens Jan Anjema in his opening game.
“It is important but the draw is not the main thing that will make you win or lose,” added Ashour. “I will still go on court and no matter who I face I will play as best as I can.”
Anjema, the eight-time Dutch champion, is a former world No9 and has fallen only to number 18 in the recent Dunlop PSA world rankings.
“Most players are eager to get in the top 10 and I don’t think there is a big gap between the top 10 players and the top 20 players,” added Ashour. “All are pretty close and anything can happen on court.”
World number one Ashour, unbeaten since losing to Matthew in last year’s British Open final – a run of 41 matches and eight tournaments – says of a potential meeting with Matthew: “Nick is a great athlete and a great person. He deserves to have a bigger profile in the UK.
“The same too for James Willstrop. They put so much effort into their game and into raising Britain’s flag everywhere in the world it is something exceptional.”
Willstrop, runner-up in 2010 and seeded three, also tackles a qualifier in his first match. But the Yorkshire star is in a tough section which could see him face Spaniard Borja Golan in the last 16 and Mohamed Elshorbagy, the 2012 runner-up, in the quarter-finals.
England’s Ben Coleman, the winner of Wednesday’s Wild Card event, didn’t get his wish to meet Egypt’s four-time champion Amr Shabana on his AJ Bell World Championship debut. Instead, the British Under 23 champion was handed an opening encounter with compatriot Tom Richards, the world number 22.
The draw was made by officials representing stakeholders; Manchester City Council, England Squash & Racketballand UK Sport. “It’s a great draw and should provide interest in every round,” said Lee Beachill, chief operating officer of the Professional Squash Association. “We can’t wait for the action to start now.”
First round draw:
 Ramy Ashour (EGY) v Laurens Jan Anjema (NED)
Alan Clyne (SCO) v Qualifier
Nafiizwan Adnan (MAS) v Mazen Hesham (EGY)
 Cameron Pilley (AUS) v Campbell Grayson (NZL)
 Alister Walker (BOT) v Qualifier
Saurav Ghosal (IND) v Joe Lee (ENG)
Henrik Mustonen (FIN) v Qualifier
 Peter Barker (ENG) v Ryan Cuskelly (AUS)
 Amr Shabana (EGY) v Adrian Grant (ENG)
Mathieu Castagnet (FRA) v Omar Abdel Meguid (EGY)
Leo Au (HKG) v Qualifier
 Miguel Angel Rodriguez (COL) v Gregoire Marche (FRA)
 Omar Mosaad (EGY) v Christopher Gordon (USA)
Karim Abdel Gawad (EGY) v Ong Beng Hee (MAS)
Max Lee (HKG) v Jonathan Kemp (ENG)
 Nick Matthew (ENG) v Qualifier
 James Willstrop (ENG) v Qualifier
Tom Richards (ENG) v Ben Coleman (ENG)
Shawn Delierre (CAN) v Qualifier
 Borja Golan (ESP) v Chris Simpson (ENG)
 Simon Rosner (GER) v Qualifier
Abdullah Al Mezayen (KUW) v Qualifier
Julian Illingworth (USA) v Omar Abdel Aziz (EGY)
 Mohamed Elshorbagy (EGY) v Adrian Waller (ENG)
 Karim Darwish (EGY) v Qualifier
Olli Tuominen (FIN) v Qualifier
Stephen Coppinger (RSA) v Qualifier
 Daryl Selby (ENG) v Qualifier
 Tarek Momen (EGY) v Qualifier
Nicolas Mueller (SUI) v Marwan Elshorbagy (EGY)
Mohd Ali Anwar Reda (EGY) v Qualifier
 Gregory Gaultier (FRA) v Qualifier
The 2013 AJ Bell World Squash Championship takes place from October 26 to November 3 and forms part of UK Sport’s Gold Events series. Tickets are now available from Ticketmaster by ringing 0844 847 2508 or visitingwww.AJBellworldsquashchamps.