The $92,500 Professional Squash Association Super Series event, the largest PSA World Tour ranking event in Europe, will take place at the National Squash Centre and The Northern Club in Manchester from the 10th to 14th September, following two days of qualifying.
The 27-year-old from Cairo who reached the semi-finals last year as seventh seed began the New Year as World No.1 for the first time heads a high-quality men's field.
Fellow countryman Amr Shabana is also looking for his first British Open title triumph. The Giza-based 30-year-old who topped the world rankings unopposed for 33 months until last December, and boasts three World Open titles, is the No.3 seed.
Darwish's opponent in the final is expected to be second seed Gregory Gaultier, the World No.2 from Aix-en-Provence who became the first Frenchman to win the coveted title in 2007.
But British interest will be led by fourth seed Nick Matthew, the World No.5 who made history in 2006 by becoming the first home-grown winner of the title for 67 years! After being out of action most of last year following shoulder surgery, the 29-year-old cemented a remarkable return to form by being crowned World Games Champion in Chinese Taipei last month.
Matthew's domestic campaign in Manchester will be supported by his England team-mates Peter Barker, the World No.7 who is sixth seed; Adrian Grant, the World No.9 who is the eighth seed; tenth seed James Willstrop, last year's runner-up, and 26-year-old Alister Walker, the No.11 seed.
David Palmer, the former World No.1 from Australia who joined a distinguished cast of four times winners of the title last year, is the No.5 seed, and will be celebrating his 13th successive appearance in the event since making his debut in 1997.
"We are delighted that once again the British Open has attracted such a strong entry," said Event Director Paul Walters of internationalSPORTgroup. "As well as comprising the World’s two leading players, Karim Darwish and Gregory Gaultier, it is fantastic that competitors from all of the major playing nations will be represented at the championship - which is a great boost for everyone associated with the event, including our event partners and sponsors Manchester City Council, England Squash & Racketball, HEAD Sport, Michael Spiers Jewellers, Imperial Consultants, ASB Squash Courts and ROWE Motor Oil."
1st Round Draw:
[1] Karim Darwish (EGY) v Jonathan Kemp (ENG)
[10] James Willstrop (ENG) v Qualifier
[7] Thierry Lincou (FRA) v Qualifier
[12] Mohd Azlan Iskandar (MAS) v Qualifier
[3] Amr Shabana (EGY) v Jens Schoor (GER)
[11] Alister Walker (ENG) v Qualifier
[5] David Palmer (AUS) v Tom Richards (ENG)
[9] Wael El Hindi (EGY) v Joey Barrington (ENG)
[14] Aamir Atlas Khan (PAK) v Daryl Selby (ENG)
[8] Adrian Grant (ENG) v Qualifier
[15] Cameron Pilley (AUS) v Farhan Mehboob (PAK)
[4] Nick Matthew (ENG) v Qualifier
[16] Ong Beng Hee (MAS) v Davide Bianchetti (ITA)
[6] Peter Barker (ENG) v Qualifier
[13] Mohamed El Shorbagy (EGY) v Qualifier
[2] Gregory Gaultier (FRA) v Saurav Ghosal (IND)
Tickets for the internationalSPORTgroup British Open – Manchester 2009 can be booked online at by telephone on 0870 220 0735 - or, for further information, visit the championship’s official website,
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Egypt's World No.1 Karim Darwish is named as top men's seed in next month's internationalSPORTgroup British Open Squash Championships and is expected to win the world's most historic Squash title for the first time.