KARACHI: Karachi is set to host another high-profile international sporting event with the Karachi Open Squash Championship taking place from March 15-19.
The main draws for the 2022 Karachi Open Squash Championship see former World No.1 Karim Abdel Gawad and France’s Enora Villard heading the men’s and women’s draws, respectively.
The male event is a PSA World Tour Bronze tournament, while the female competition is a PSA Challenger Tour 20 tournament.
Former World Champion Gawad leads the men’s draw and will be looking to claim his first title since 2019. The Egyptian will face the winner of home favourite Asim Khan and England’s Declan James in his first match of the tournament as he receives a bye in round one.
World No.16 Youssef Soliman from Egypt is the number two seed. Soliman, a recent quarter finalist at the Houston Open, will open his account against the winner of Spain’s Bernat Jaume and event wildcard Muhammad Ashab Irfan from Pakistan.
Pakistan’s best chance of a home winner comes in the form of World No. 44 Tayyab Aslam. The nation’s No.1 will face up and coming Egyptian Yahya Elnawasany in his first-round match. The pair last met at the Egyptian Open in September, with the Egyptian winning 3-1 in 38 minutes to level the head-to-head record at 1-1.
France’s Enora Villard is number one seed for the female event. The French No.4 recently lost out to Georgina Kennedy from England in the last 16 of the Cleveland Classic and will be looking to improve on that performance in Karachi. Villard will play either Pakistan’s Zaynab Khan or New Zealand’s Kaitlyn Watts in her opening match of the event.
England’s Lucy Beecroft is one to watch in the event. The World No. 62 won two events in 2021 and will be determined to add to that tally in 2022. Beecroft receives a bye in round one but will face either wildcard Anam Mustafa Aziz or Serbia’s Jelena Dutina in round two.
No. 3 seed Marie Stephan is entering the Challenger 20 event full of confidence as the 25-year-old recently captured her first French Nationals title, beating Enora Villard in the final. Stephan will play Pakistan’s Amna Fayyaz or Malaysia’s Yee Xin Ying for a place in the quarter finals.
Pakistan Rangers Sindh will collaborate with the event organisers for providing fool proof security arrangements to all participants.
Chairman Sindh Squash Association and Emeritus President of World Squash Federation Jahangir Khan said: “The Sindh Squash Association is delighted to host the Karachi Open Squash Championship 2022. We are excited to collaborate with the ARY group who have always been huge supporters of sports in the country.
“We are all very excited to showcase Pakistan’s hospitality to a number of talented international squash players and I look forward to welcoming them in Karachi this March.”
Chairman AKD Group Aqeel Karim Dhedhi said: “The business community of Karachi is proud to support Pakistan’s resurgence in sports. The Karachi Open Squash Championship, and other events in the pipeline under the ACE Games umbrella, will have our full support as we aim to promote Pakistan as a sports destination and build Pakistan’s own sporting heroes.”
ARY Digital Founder and CEO Salman Iqbal said: “I am delighted that we are partnering with the Sindh Squash Association and the business community of Pakistan to bring this star-studded squash event to Pakistan.
“Pakistan has hosted a number of international cricket events in the last few years and the Karachi Open Squash Championship will be a great addition to the country’s sports industry. I am confident that with world-class TV coverage on A Sports, Pakistan’s first HD sports channel, and a memorable event, we will be able to further raise the profile of Pakistan as a sports destination.
“Our vision with ACE Games is to promote sports in Pakistan and provide avenues for our youth to train themselves so that they can bring laurels for Pakistan and I hope that all stakeholders will continue to support us in our efforts.”