DOHA, Qatar – The forthcoming Qatar Airways Squash Challenge 2005 could produce a new world number 1 when the top two ranking players are seeded to meet in the final in Doha on April 24, 2005.
The tournament will attract 40 players from the Women’s International Squash Players Association (WISPA) for the week-long event, being held at the Khalifa International Stadium in Doha between April 18-24.
Defending champion and tournament favourite Vanessa Atkinson, currently the world number two, improved her WISPA world rankings by narrowing the points gap at the weekend when she beat her rival, Rachael Grinham, the world number one from Australia, in the Women’s Texas Open Squash Championship.
It was Atkinson's third successive win over Grinham since December and takes her ahead of her rival in the provisional world standings. But the official list is drawn up on May 1 after the Qatar Airways Challenge.
Atkinson, the 28-year-old from the Netherlands, has the world number one world ranking in her grasp for the first time if she can stay the course in Doha. The pair are seeded to meet again in the final of the Qatar Airways Challenge on Saturday April 24, - the outcome of which will decide the May WISPA world rankings.
The Qatar Airways Challenge 2005, now in its second year, will be broadcast on TV and beamed live to millions of television viewers around the world.
Award-winning Qatar Airways will fly players from Europe, North America, the Indian sub-continent, Australia and the Far East to compete in Doha for the coveted trophy and prize money worth $72,500.
The Qatar Airways Challenge is one of eight key events on the prestigious international Grand Prix circuit.
Of the players taking part, 24 have automatic qualification. Sixteen others will compete in the pre-qualification round starting on April 18 for the eight remaining places making up the final 32.
Qatar Airways Chief Executive Akbar Al Baker said the tournament was one of the most eagerly awaited in the squash calendar so far this year.
“The Qatar Airways Challenge will see the world’s best players competing in such a prestigious tournament and we look forward to an extremely highly-contested event,” he said, adding, “it is a close call as we could see a new world number one here in Doha on April 24.”
Qatar Airways Challenge 2005 - 1st round draw: (seeds in brackets)
 Rachael Grinham (AUS) v Qualifier
 Rebecca Chiu (HKG) v Laura-Jane Lengthorn (ENG)
 Linda Elriani (ENG) v Qualifier
 Fiona Geaves (ENG) v Qualifier
 Nicol David (MAS) v Latasha Khan (USA)
 Shelley Kitchen (NZL) v Alison Waters (ENG)
 Jenny Tranfield (ENG) v Isabelle Stoehr (FRA)
 Madeline Perry (IRL) v Pamela Nimmo (SCO)
 Annelize Naude (NED) v Qualifier
 Natalie Grainger (USA) v Qualifier
 Jenny Duncalf (ENG) v Qualifier
 Natalie Grinham (AUS) v Carla Khan (PAK)
 Omneya Abdel Kawy (EGY) v Qualifier
 Vicky Botwright (ENG) v Stephanie Brind (ENG)
 Tania Bailey (ENG) v Qualifier
 Vanessa Atkinson (NED) v Sharon Wee (MAS)
Doha-based Qatar Airways will operate a fleet of 110 aircraft by 2013 – almost double the existing size. Qatar Airways has ordered 80 Airbus A350s, 60 Boeing 787s and 32 Boeing 777s, with deliveries of the latter having started in November 2007. The airline is a launch customer of the twin-deck Airbus A380 ‘super jumbos’ with five aircraft on order and scheduled for delivery from 2010. Qatar Airways moves to the New Doha International Airport in 2010, when the first phase of the new facility opens. For more information, visit www.ndiaproject.com
Qatar Airways is one of only six airlines in the world with a Five Star ranking for service and excellence awarded by Skytrax, the independent aviation industry monitoring agency. Skytrax also named Qatar Airways’ cabin crew as Best in the Middle East for the fifth year running in 2007 following a survey of more than 15 million passengers worldwide. For more information, log onto www.qatarairways.com
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