Legendary Australian Sarah Fitz-Gerald has tipped Egyptian players to come out on top at the 2018 edition of the Allam British Open - which begins tomorrow (May 15) in Hull - and is looking forward to some exciting battles at the ‘Wimbledon of Squash’ over the next six days.
The British Open is the sport’s longest-running tournament and some of the greatest Egyptian players of all time, such as Ramy Ashour, Mohamed ElShorbagy, Abdelfattah AbouTaleb and Nour El Sherbini have gotten their hands on the prestigious title.
Last year’s British Open featured no Egyptians in either the men’s or women’s final for the first time since 2014 but, after a season which has seen all but one World Series title find its way into Egyptian hands, Fitz-Gerald is expecting the nation to reign supreme once more in Hull.
"It’s hard to look past any Egyptian in the men’s and women’s [tournaments]," said the two-time British Open champion.
"And you sure can’t underestimate some of the previous title winners. The British [Open] often produces mammoth performances.
"[SQUASHTV lead commentator] Joey Barrington had a good laugh with me during the Commonwealth Games about ‘sitting on the fence’ regarding predictions. All I know is my guesses are never right, but the Egyptians, any of them [could win] and I will watch with curiosity [New Zealand’s] Joelle King and [Wales’] Tesni Evans in the women’s."
Fitz-Gerald, 49, first won the British Open back in 2001 with victory over New Zealand’s Carol Owens in the final and she followed that up with a second successive win the following year, this time beating England’s Tania Bailey.
In addition to those British Open titles, the Melbourne-based former World No.1 has won the World Championship on five occasions and claimed a Commonwealth Games gold medal - but she insists that the British Open was the tournament that tested her the most.
"The British Open means a huge amount to me and still does," she said.
"I found it the most difficult title to win. It’s history and prestige seemed to add a huge amount of pressure, when I did it, it was a huge relief plus I wanted to win it for my English club, Caversham in Reading, and coach, Mike Johnson.
"To have been on that trophy with the legends of the game was what was important to me, it was the ‘Wimbledon of Squash’."
This year’s British Open looks set to be one of the most exciting yet, with the likes of two-time winner Mohamed ElShorbagy, World No.2 Ali Farag, 2016 champion Nour El Sherbini and World Champion Raneem El Welily leading the Egyptian charge.
Three-time winner Nick Matthew also returns to Hull as he appears at his final British Open and his opening round match with Tarek Momen on Tuesday May 15 is one of four matches to feature English talent at the Airco Arena, with Commonwealth Games gold medalist James Willstrop, defending women’s champion Laura Massaro and World No.23 Emily Whitlock all involved.
Fans can see the English quartet in action by purchasing tickets via Ticketmaster.
Qualifying for the tournament takes place from May 13-14 at the University of Hull Sports and Fitness Centre, while the main draw will be held at the Airco Arena between May 15-20, bar 23 of the 32 first round matches, which will be staged at the university on day one of the main draw.
Matches held on the glass court at the Airco Arena will be shown on SQUASHTV and Eurosport Player throughout the tournament, while the semi-finals and finals will be shown live on mainstream broadcast channels around the world, such as BT Sport, beIN Sports, Fox Sports Australia and Astro.
Main Draw – First Round: Men’s 2018 Allam British Open
 Mohamed ElShorbagy (EGY) v Diego Elias (PER)
Ryan Cuskelly (AUS) v [Qualifier]
Paul Coll (NZL) v [Qualifier]
Daryl Selby (ENG) v  Karim Abdel Gawad (EGY)
 Simon Rösner (GER) v [WC] Declan James (ENG)
Saurav Ghosal (IND) v [Qualifier]
Mohamed Abouelghar (EGY) v [Qualifier]
Cameron Pilley (AUS) v  Gregory Gaultier (FRA)
 Marwan ElShorbagy (EGY) v James Willstrop (ENG)
Cesar Salazar (MEX) v Nicolas Mueller (SUI)
Mathieu Castagnet (FRA) v [Qualifier]
Nick Matthew (ENG) v  Tarek Momen (EGY)
 Ramy Ashour (EGY) v Miguel Angel Rodriguez (COL)
Omar Mosaad (EGY) v [Qualifier]
Max Lee (HKG) v [Qualifier]
[Qualifier] v  Ali Farag (EGY)
Main Draw – First Round: Women’s 2018 Allam British Open
 Nour El Sherbini (EGY) v Emily Whitlock (ENG)
[Qualifier] v  Salma Hany (EGY)
 Alison Waters (ENG) v Joey Chan (HKG)
Jenny Duncalf (ENG) v  Nouran Gohar (EGY)
 Laura Massaro (ENG) v [Qualifier]
[Qualifier] v  Joshna Chinappa (IND)
 Olivia Blatchford (USA) v Amanda Sobhy (USA)
Rachael Grinham (AUS) v  Nour El Tayeb (EGY)
 Joelle King (NZL) v [Qualifier]
[Qualifier] v  Tesni Evans (WAL)
 Donna Urquhart (AUS) v Mariam Metwally (EGY)
[Qualifier] v  Camille Serme (FRA)
 Sarah-Jane Perry (ENG) v Hania El Hammamy (EGY)
[Qualifier] v  Annie Au (HKG)
 Victoria Lust (ENG) v [WC] Fiona Moverley (ENG)
[Qualifier] v  Raneem El Welily (EGY)