Runner-up two years ago, England’s James Willstrop is seeded to become senior world champion for the first time when the 2012 PSA World Championship – boasting a $325,000 prize-fund, the second biggest in the sport’s history – takes place in Doha, Qatar, from 7-14 December.
The draw for the premier PSA event at the Khalifa International Tennis & Squash Complex, published today, shows defending champion Nick Matthew as the No2 seed.
The Englishman will be aiming to win the prestigious title for a third successive year – becoming only the fourth player in history, after legends Geoff Hunt (Australia), and Jahangir Khan and Jansher Khan (both Pakistan) – to achieve this feat.
Success by Willstrop in Doha would make the world number one from Leeds only the third world junior champion ever to add the senior title.
Willstrop begins his 2012 campaign against fellow countryman Chris Ryder, the world No43, whilst Matthew lines up against the highest-ranked Swiss player of all-time, Nicolas Mueller, the world No20.
But there will be fierce resistance to the predicted all-English final – particularly from Egyptians! And former champions Ramy Ashour and Amr Shabana are both in Matthew’s half of the draw.
Ashour despatched Matthew in last week’s US Open semi-finals in Philadelphia in straight games – and will be looking for a second world title after success in 2008. But Shabana already boasts four title triumphs – in 2003, 2005, 2007 and 2009 – and will be celebrating his 13th successive appearance in the event since 1998.
Fifth seed Ashour faces compatriot Marwan El Shorbagy, the world junior champion, in the first round whilst the illustrious seventh-seeded Shabana takes on a qualifier.
With three runner-up finishes over the past six years, Frenchman Gregory Gaultier will be hoping to add his name to the trophy for the first time. Seeded three, the recent US Open runner-up begins his bid against Egyptian Mohammed Abbas.
Players from 21 countries will contest the 64-man main draw, with a further 11 nations represented in the qualifying competition.
“This year’s World Championship promises to be one of the most competitive in the event’s history,” said PSA CEO Alex Gough. “Nick Matthew will be looking to win an incredible third event in three years whilst James Willstrop the current world number one will be looking to win his first. They will both face stiff competition from Australian Open and US Open Champion Ramy Ashour.”
Formerly known as the ‘World Open’, the world championship will be hosted by Qatar for the third time, following stagings in 1998 and 2004.
PSA World Championship 2012 Qatar, First round draw:
 James Willstrop (Eng) v Chris Ryder (Eng)
Cameron Pilley (Aus) v Adrian Waller (Eng)
Saurav Ghosal (Ind) v Abdulla Al Tamimi (Qat)
 Tom Richards (Eng) v Karim Abdel Gawad (Egy)
Alan Clyne (Sco) v Qualifier
Mathieu Castagnet (Fra) v Qualifier
 Peter Barker (Eng) v Martin Knight (Nzl)
Julian Illingworth (Usa) v Qualifier
Simon Rosner (Ger) v Siddharth Suchde (Ind)
 Karim Darwish (Egy) v Qualifier
 Gregory Gaultier (Fra) v Mohammed Abbas (Egy)
Miguel Angel Rodriguez (Col) v Qualifier
Chris Simpson (Eng) v Qualifier
 Laurens Jan Anjema (Ned) v Jonathan Kemp (Eng)  Omar Mosaad (Egy) v Qualifier
Max Lee (Hkg) v Henrik Mustonen (Fin)
Adrian Grant (Eng) v Qualifier
 Ramy Ashour (Egy) v Marwan El Shorbagy (Egy)
Ryan Cuskelly (Aus) v Qualifier
Zac Alexander (Aus) v Qualifier
 Nick Matthew (Eng) v Nicolas Mueller (Sui)