England’s defending champion Nick Matthew is set to make the final of the JP Morgan Tournament of Champions for the fifth time since 2006 according to the draw for the 2013 event, the first PSA World Series ranking event of the New Year, which takes place at the world-famous Grand Central Terminal in New York City from 18-24 January.
After finishing as runner-up in 2006, 2009 and 2011, world No2 Matthew won the title for the first time last year after beating national rival James Willstrop in the final. The win took the 32-year-old from Sheffield back to No1 in the world rankings the following month – but fellow Yorkshireman Willstrop reclaimed the top spot in March and held onto it for the rest of the year.
Matthew, the second seed, begins the defence of his title against New York-based Alister Walker, the world No16 from Botswana.
Willstrop is the event’s top seed. The 29-year-old from Leeds lines up against top-ranked Colombian Miguel Angel Rodriguez in the first round.
The 2010 champion is expected to progress to the semi-finals where he is scheduled to meet fourth seed Ramy Ashour, the 25-year-old 2011 champion from Egypt whose title triumph in this month’s Qatar PSA World Championship in Doha will take him to the top of the world rankings in January.
Frenchman Gregory Gaultier, winner of the title in 2009, is the event’s third seed and scheduled to face Egypt’s Hisham Ashour in the first round en-route to a predicted semi-final clash with Matthew.
But a third ToC title is also on the cards for Amr Shabana, the 33-year-old Egyptian who was successful in 2006 and 2007. Unseeded, the former world number one faces a qualifier in the first round before a likely second round meeting with second seed Matthew.
Tournament of Champions 2012, Round One Draw: James Willstrop (Eng) v Miguel Angel Rodriguez (Col)
Tarek Momen (Egy) v Qualifier
Adrian Grant (Eng) v Cameron Pilley (Aus)
 Peter Barker (Eng) v Stephen Coppinger (Rsa)  Omar Mosaad (Egy) v Nicolas Mueller (Sui)
Ong Beng Hee (Mas) v Qualifier
Simon Rosner (Ger) v Qualifier
 Ramy Ashour (Egy) v Qualifier  Gregory Gaultier (Fra) v Hisham Ashour (Egy)
Tom Richards (Eng) v Todd Harrity (Usa)
Olli Tuominen (Fin) v Qualifier
 Mohamed El Shorbagy (Egy) v Laurens Jan Anjema (Ned)  Karim Darwish (Egy) v Qualifier
Saurav Ghosal (Ind) v Qualifier
Amr Shabana (Egy) v Qualifier
 Nick Matthew (Eng) v Alister Walker (Bot)