By Howard Harding
France’s world No 2 Gregory Gaultier will lead the field at this week’s Qatar Classic after Egypt’s Ramy Ashour withdrew from the PSA World Series event following an injury sustained at last week’s PSA World Championship in England.
“Just got out of the hospital and the doctors advised me not to play Qatar so that my hamstring injury won’t get any worse,” said the world No 1 from Cairo on Facebook. “Let’s thank the Lord for whatever He has for us.”
Ashour’s withdrawal means Gaultier will look to regain the Qatar Classic title he won in 2011. The Frenchman will open his campaign against top-ranked German Simon Rosner, the world No 13.
The 30-year-old from Aix-en-Provence is scheduled to link up with Spain’s world No 8 Borja Golan in the quarter-finals – before a likely semi-final encounter with England’s Nick Matthew, the man who beat him in last week’s World Championship final in Manchester.
Gaultier and Matthew fought out a blistering 111-minute final which went the full distance – with home hero Matthew prevailing to win the prestigious title for a third time.
But 2009 Qatar Classic champion Matthew has a lot to do before reaching the semis: His first opponent is former England team-mate Alister Walker, the world No 15 who now represents Botswana. A predicted second round clash with the Colombian Miguel Angel Rodriguez, the highest-ranked South American of all-time, could take the Sheffield star on to a quarter-final clash with sixth seed Amr Shabana.
The distinguished Egyptian made his first major PSA Tour appearance in Doha in 1996, a full five years before Matthew began his Classic encounters. Four-time world champion Shabana – the 34-year-old from Cairo whose latest goal is to become the oldest world No 1 or world champion – has reached the Qatar final on three occasions, winning the title in 2007
England’s world No3 James Willstrop, elevated to second seed following Ashour’s withdrawal, begins his 11th Qatar campaign against wild card Abdulla Mohamed Al-Tamimi, a promising Qatari junior who is ranked 99 in the world.
The revised draw now sees Willstrop in the same quarter as Mohamed Elshorbagy, the fifth-seeded Egyptian who upset the Englishman in the World Championship quarter-finals.
Willstrop’s biggest threat in his half of the draw is fourth seed Karim Darwish, the only two-time winner of the title in the draw. The world No 5 from Cairo, champion in 2008 and 2010, begins his latest campaign against a qualifier before an expected quarter-final meeting with compatriot Tarek Momen, the new No 8 seed.
The 2013 Qatar Classic, the seventh PSA World Series event of the year and one of the leading events on the PSA World Tour since 1992, takes place at the Khalifa International Tennis & Squash Complex in the Qatari capital Doha from 10-15 November, following two days of qualifying.
Main draw 1st round:
 James Willstrop (ENG) v [WC] Abdulla Mohamed Al-Tamimi (QAT)
Daryl Selby (ENG) v Qualifier
Laurens Jan Anjema (NED) v Qualifier
 Mohamed Elshorbagy (EGY) v Chris Simpson (ENG)
 Tarek Momen (EGY) v Qualifier
Karim Abdel Gawad (EGY) v Qualifier
Omar Mosaad (EGY) v Ong Beng Hee (MAS)
 Karim Darwish (EGY) v Adrian Grant (ENG)
 Nick Matthew (ENG) v Alister Walker (BOT)
Miguel Angel Rodriguez (COL) v Qualifier
Stephen Coppinger (RSA) v Qualifier
 Amr Shabana (EGY) v Saurav Ghosal (IND)
 Borja Golan (ESP) v Nicolas Mueller (SUI)
Tom Richards (ENG) v Qualifier
Cameron Pilley (AUS) v Qualifier
 Gregory Gaultier (FRA) v Simon Rosner (GER)
1st qualifying round draw:
Olli Tuominen (FIN) v Leo Au (HKG)
Mazen Hesham Ga Sabry (EGY) v Charles Sharpes (ENG)
Abdullah Al Muzayen (KUW) v Andrew Wagih Shoukry (EGY)
Gregoire Marche (FRA) v Zeyad Tareq Alowaesh (KUW)
Mohd Nafiizwan Adnan (MAS) v Muhd Asyraf Azan (MAS)
Christopher Gordon (USA) v Harinder Pal Sandhu (IND)
Joe Lee (ENG) v Jaymie Haycocks (ENG)
Marwan Elshorbagy (EGY) v Khawaja Adil Maqbool (PAK)
Mathieu Castagnet (FRA) v Mohamed Abouelghar (EGY)
Mohamed Ali Anwar Reda (EGY) v Ivan Yuen (MAS)
Henrik Mustonen (FIN) v Ammar Altamimi (KUW)
Alan Clyne (SCO) v Kristian Frost Olesen (DEN)
Max Lee (HKG) v Ahmed Mohammed Al-Tamimi (QAT)
Omar Abdel Meguid (EGY) v Yousif Nizar Saleh (KUW)
Adrian Waller (ENG) v Nasir Iqbal (PAK)
Ryan Cuskelly (AUS) v Abdulrahman Al-Malki (QAT)