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Shabana, David Doha Bound

Amr Shabana of Egypt and Nicol David of Malaysia, the world number one on the men’s and women’s tours respectively, will defend their titles at this month’s Qatar Classic squash tournament.

According to Gamal Rasmi, technical secretary with Qatar Squash Federation (QSF), the two players will lead the fields in the seven-day event to be held from October 25 to 31.

“The world’s top 16 players are confirmed entries for this year’s Qatar Classic and this list obviously includes Shabana, David Palmer and Gregory Gaultier,” Rasmi told The Peninsula yesterday.

Rasmi informed that said former World Open champion Thierry Lincou of France has also confirmed his participation at the Doha event.

The men’s event will have an overall prize money of $145,000 whereas the women’s tournament will have $82,000 up for grabs. No Qatari will be part of the 32-player field in the men’s event in which eight spots are reserved for the ones coming in through the qualifying stages.

“Similarly, we will have the top players for the women’s event as well. Nicol will defend her title she won her last year,” Rasmi added. “Grinham sisters, Rachel and Nathalie will also be playing in Doha.”

Last year, Shabana and David confirmed their status as the world’s number one players by winning the Qatar Classic titles in style.

Shabana, the current world number one, claimed the men’s crown for the first time in Doha after beating fourth seed Gaultier in the final of the $120,000 Super Series Platinum event while David retained the $77,000 women’s WISPA Gold event trophy by defeating fifth seed Natalie Grainger in straight games.

Twenty eight-year-old Shabana, the top seed from Egypt, battled for 52 minutes to topple is French rival 11-4, 8-11, 11-6, 11-5.

David, the 24-year-old from Penang, was in sparkling form as she dispatched Grainger, the Pan American Games gold medallist from the US, 9-6, 9-4, 10-9 in 43 minutes.

Shabana, who has a huge fan following in Doha, has stretched his reign as the world number one for 31 months.

The Egyptian, winner of three World Open titles, has won a remarkable 20 trophies from 27 PSA finals.

David is now a three-time World Open and British Open champion (2005, 2006 and 2008).

The forthcoming event is to be held on squash courts inside the Khalifa Tennis Complex premises.

Men & Women's Draw to follow..