Englishmen Nick Matthew, the world No1 throughout 2011, and James Willstrop, who succeeded him at the top of the PSA world rankings this month, head a world-class field at next week's JP Morgan Tournament of Champions, the first PSA World Series event of the new year at Grand Central Terminal in New York.
"This is the deepest and most competitive men's championship draw I have seen in the 15 years I have been organizing these championships in Grand Central Terminal," said promoter John Nimick, president of Squash Engine, Inc., as he announced the draw for the world's largest spectator squash event.
The 32-player draw features 24 of the world's top 30 players, with the remaining eight spots to be determined by a 32-player qualifying draw.
The JP Morgan Tournament of Champions continues to live up to its name as all but one of its winners have been ranked No1 in the world. The 2012 draw features six players who have topped the world rankings, and three returning titleholders - England's 2010 champion James Willstrop; Frenchman Gregory Gaultier, the 2009 winner; and Egypt's Amr Shabana, the champion in 2006 and 2007.
It was on the eve of the event that Ramy Ashour, the defending champion and 2008 winner from Egypt, announced his withdrawal due to on-going hamstring problems.
After finishing as runner-up on three occasions, top seed Nick Matthew will be hoping for fourth time lucky! The 31-year-old from Sheffield will be making his Tour comeback after sustaining an adductor injury in Kuwait in November.
New world No1 James Willstrop will also be a serious title contender. Winner of the last three World Series events of 2011, the 28-year-old from Leeds is seeded to meet Matthew in the final. Rounding off the top six seeds are former world No1 and three-time semi-finalist Karim Darwish of Egypt, and England's Peter Barker, the most consistent performer over the 2011 World Series.
Julian Illingworth, the highest-ever ranked US player on the PSA Tour, will take on France's Thierry Lincou, another former world No1, in the first round. The only player among the top 24 making his JP Morgan Tournament of Champions debut is Aamir Atlas Khan of Pakistan - whose uncle Jansher Khan won the Tournament of Champions the first year it was contested in Grand Central Terminal.
The JP Morgan Tournament of Champions is the focal point of Squash Week in New York City. Men's qualifying matches will be played on January 18 and 19. The tournament activities will officially kick off with the Lexington Partners Legends Showdown, featuring past champions Peter Nicol and Jonathon Power competing on the glass court in Grand Central Terminal on January 19 at 7:30pm.
Other activities during tournament week include the ToC Junior Invitational Tournament with the finals of all draws on the ToC Glass Court on January 22. NY Squash will host the Grand Open amateur tournament, a qualifying event for the US National Skill Level Championships. Participants from New York City urban youth enrichment charities StreetSquash, CitySquash and PowerPlay NYC, will participate in clinics with the tournament competitors on the ToC Glass Court.
1st round draw:
 Nick Matthew (ENG) v Omar Mosaad (EGY)
Adrian Grant (ENG) v Qualifier
Cameron Pilley (AUS) v Olli Tuominen (FIN)
 Mohamed El Shorbagy (EGY) v Aamir Atlas Khan (PAK)
 Amr Shabana (EGY) v Mohd Ali Anwar Reda (EGY)
Hisham Mohamed Ashour (EGY) v Qualifier
Nicolas Mueller (SUI) v Qualifier
 Gregory Gaultier (FRA) v Borja Golan Santin (ESP)
 Karim Darwish (EGY) v Daryl Selby (ENG)
Tarek Momen (EGY) v Simon Rosner (GER)
Tom Richards (ENG) v Qualifier
 Thierry Lincou (FRA) v Qualifier
 Peter Barker (ENG) v Qualifier
Julian Illingworth (USA) v Shahier Razik (CAN)
Alister Walker (BOT) v Qualifier
 James Willstrop (ENG) v Qualifier
Event website: www.tocsquash.com
For all the latest Tour news: www.psaworldtour.com