The PSA World Championships – The Top Squash Stars Battle It Out in Manchester

The World Squash Championships begin in Manchester tomorrow and nearly 200 of the sport’s biggest stars will taking part. What makes this tournament so special and what’s in store for spectators at this year’s event?
The PSA World Championships – The Tournaments and Their Histories

The first editions of both the men’s and women’s versions of this popular squash championship were held in 1976, but didn’t take place at the same time or even in the same country. The men’s tournament took place at London’s Wembley Stadium, in January and February, and was won by Geoff Hunt, the Aussie squash legend.

Hunt went on to win the trophy a further three times (in 1977, 1979 and 1980). However, during the 1980s and early 1990s, the men’s championships were dominated by Jansher Khan and Jahangir Khan. These renowned players, both of whom hailed from Pakistan, racked up fourteen title wins between them. Jansher triumphed at the tournament on eight occasions, winning the title just twice more than Jahangir. 

Other players to have received the impressive-looking squash trophy on more than one occasion include:

• Australian player David Palmer (2002 and 2006); 
• Amr Shabana from Egypt (2003, 2005, 2007 and 2009);
• Nick Matthew from England (2010, 2011 and 2013);
• Egyptian player Ramy Ashour (2008, 2012 and 2014). 

The first edition of the women’s tournament took place in Brisbane in August 1976. Heather McKay took the title that year, a feat she repeated three years later in London.

The Australians have been particularly strong in the championship over the years, with six of the fourteen women who have won the title representing the country. However, the record for the most wins goes to Nicol David, from Malaysia, who has won the title on eight occasions.

Women other than McKay and David who have been World Champion more than once are:

• Susan Devoy from New Zealand (1985, 1987, 1990 and 1992);
• Australian player Michelle Martin (1993, 1994 and 1995);
• Sarah Fitzgerald, also from Australia (1996, 1997, 1998, 2001 and 2002);
• Carol Owens, a New Zealander (2000 and 2003);
• Nour El Sherbini from Egypt (2015 and 2016).

The 2017 Tournament – Dates, Venues and Players

This year’s tournament is set to be a thriller and it’s particularly important as both the men’s and women’s competitions will take place at the same time and place. The last time that happened was in 2011. In addition, this year, for the first time, the men’s and women’s champions will be awarded equal prize money.

The opening rounds of both competitions will take place between Friday 8 December and Wednesday 13 December 2017 at the National Squash Centre in the Eastlands area of Manchester. The action will then move to the Manchester Central Convention Complex. The quarter-finals will take place on Thursday 14 and Friday 15 December, with the semi-finals taking place the following day. The finalists will then battle it out for the titles on Sunday 17 December. 

Players likely to be competing in the women’s event include Britain’s Laura Massaro, Nicol David, Raneem El Weleily and the reigning champion, Nour El Sherbini. The men’s event is set to feature the current holder of the title, Karim Abdel Gawad, as well as Gregory Gaultier and Nick Matthew, who recently announced that he will be retiring next year.

Are you a squash fan? Which players do you think will win the World Championships in Manchester this month? Share your views below.