Laura is favourite for the world title
Chorley's world No.1 Laura Massaro will go into next month's Naza PSA Women's World Squash Championship as the top seed following the draw for the $185,000 tournament which takes place in Kuala Lumpur from April 23 to 30.
In the most lucrative Women’s World Championship ever, 2013 winner Massaro will head the 56-strong field, and will face a qualifier in the opening round of the tournament.
The 32-year-old has topped the rankings throughout 2016 and will have high hopes for the most illustrious tournament on the PSA World Tour calendar.
The draw includes four players who have tasted success on the PSA World Series so far during a season that has been packed full of shock defeats and surprise victories.
Massaro dominated the early stages of the 2015/16 season to claim the US Open and Qatar Classic titles.
But she has failed to reach a final since losing out to local Malaysian favourite Nicol David – the eight-time World champion from Penang – in December’s Hong Kong Open.
David has been thwarted in all of the past three World Series events at the hands of Nour El Sherbini.
Massaro defeated El Sherbini to take the 2013 crown in Penang, with the 20-year-old Egyptian lifting the titles at the Tournament of Champions and British Open – where she defeated World Junior Champion Nouran Gohar.
Raneem El Welily, the 2014 runner-up and the woman who ended David’s nine-year streak as World No.1, returned to her best form to win the Windy City Open in March.
And with 2015 British Open champion Camille Serme and former World Championship runners-up Omneya Abdel Kawy and Jenny Duncalf amongst the others in a packed field, the latest instalment of the World Championship promises fireworks.
“We are very pleased to be able to host such an important event in the squash calendar,” said tournament promoter and Sportspin event and athlete management director Azlan Iskander, a former professional player.
“It is important for me to be able to give back, and I jumped on the opportunity to do so.
“Of course this could not have been achieved without the co-operation and help from the Ministry of Youth and Sports and the Naza Group of Companies and of course all our other sponsors and event partners.”
PSA chief executive Alex Gough said: “Women’s squash is in the midst of one of the most competitive eras there has ever been, with more excitement than ever before surrounding who will emerge victorious.
“Every player inside the top section of the rankings is capable of beating the other.
“We have witnessed some amazing drama so far this year in all the women’s PSA World Series tournaments.
“And with the most prestigious title in the sport on the line in Kuala Lumpur I expect we will be treated to an outstanding week of action and we look forward to continuing to work closely with SportSpin and everyone involved with the tournament ahead of April 23.”
As well as the prize money, the winner also gets a brand new Citroen DS4 car.