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Darwish Seeded to Defend Qatar Classic Crown

Egypt’s former world number one Karim Darwish is seeded to retain the crown he won for the first time last year in the 2009 Qatar Squash Classic, the $147,500 PSA World Tour Super Series event which takes place for the eighth year at the Khalifa International Tennis & Squash Complex in the Qatar capital Doha from 19-23 November.

But fellow Egyptian Amr Shabana, the ‘Prince of Cairo’ who became world champion for the fourth time at the Kuwait World Open earlier this month, has been forced to withdraw from the seventh Super Series event of the year after sustaining a shoulder injury in Kuwait.

Darwish, the 28-year-old from Cairo who has competed in all seven previous Qatar Classics, faces a qualifier in the first round - and is expected to face Egyptian rival and third seed Ramy Ashour, the 2008 World Open champion, in the semi-finals.

In a repeat of last year’s quarter-final, the draw predicts that the top seed will meet Gregory Gaultier, the 2007 runner-up, in Monday’s final. The clash would be the first meeting between the pair since the second-seeded Frenchman succeeded Darwish as world number one this month.

But England’s Nick Matthew will also be eager to perform in Doha after celebrating a career-high world number four ranking this month. The fourth seed from Sheffield takes on compatriot Jonathan Kemp in the first round - and is expected to meet Gaultier in the semis, where the Yorkshireman will be looking to avenge his defeat in the Kuwait quarters.

Distinguished Australian David Palmer will be hoping that it is fifth time lucky in his eighth successive appearance in the event. The former world number one reached the finals in 2001, 2002, 2005 and 2007 - and on all occasions finished as runner-up! Seeded five, Palmer takes on a qualifier in the first round before an anticipated quarter-final meeting with Matthew.

After an ankle injury caused him to miss last year’s event, former champion James Willstrop will be keen to stamp his authority on the 2009 championship. Winner of the event in 2005, the sixth seed from England lines up against a qualifier in the opening round, before a likely quarter-final clash with Ramy Ashour.

1st round draw:

[1] Karim Darwish (EGY) v Qualifier [15] Cameron Pilley (AUS) v Qualifier [7] Thierry Lincou (FRA) v Qualifier [9] Adrian Grant (ENG) v Hisham Mohd Ashour (EGY) [3] Ramy Ashour (EGY) v Abdul Salem Al-Malki (QAT) [11] Wael El Hindi (EGY) v Farhan Mehboob (PAK) [6] James Willstrop (ENG) v Qualifier [10] Alister Walker (ENG) v Qualifier [14] Stewart Boswell (AUS) v Qualifier [5] David Palmer (AUS) v Qualifier [13] Laurens Jan Anjema (NED) v Qualifier [4] Nick Matthew (ENG) v Jonathan Kemp (ENG) [12] Mohamed El Shorbagy (EGY) v Olli Tuominen (FIN) [8] Peter Barker (ENG) v Qualifier [16] Aamir Atlas Khan (PAK) v Ong Beng Hee (MAS) [2] Gregory Gaultier (FRA) v Joey Barrington (ENG)

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