Friday, October 30, 2009

Palmer bids for third world title

Australian number one David Palmer will be bidding for his third world title when squash's biggest tournament gets underway in Kuwait City on Sunday. The Men's World Open brings together the top 64 male professionals in a purpose built venue at Kuwait's Green Island Resort.

Palmer, from Lithgow in New South Wales, will spearhead Australia's challenge and is joined in the field by Canberra's Stewart Boswell, New South Wales pair Cameron Pilley and Scott Arnold and Hobart's Aaron Frankcomb.

The 33-year-old Palmer, now based in Boston, won the title in 2002 and 2006 and, despite being written off as a force many times over the past few years, he still presents a formidable challenge to his more fancied rivals.

Nicknamed The Marine for his phenomenal fitness and resolve, Palmer relishes the challenge of major tournaments and seems to get stronger the longer he remains in contention. He will play French qualifier Julien Balbo in the first round and, if the seedings go as expected, he would face world number three Amr Shabana in the quarter-finals.

Boswell will play Arnold in the first round with the winner expected to face former world number one Thierry Lincou in a tough second round encounter.

Pilley should progress to the second round after he drew young English qualifier Joe Lee, where he would probably play Egyptian wonder kid Mohammed El Shorbagy, the reigning world junior champion.

Frankcomb, who like Arnold had to qualify for the tournament, has been drawn against classy Malaysian Azlan Iskandar.

Frenchman Gregory Gaultier remains favourite for the title after he reached the worlds top ranking earlier this month. However, he has to get past a trio of Egyptian challengers in Karim Darwish, Shabana and Ramy Ashour, and British Open champion Nick Matthew from England. Other threats to the Frenchman come from Palmer, who beat him in five games to win the 2006 title, and resurgent Englishman James Willstrop.

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