James Willstrop, the Englishman who became world number one in January, is top seed in a PSA World Series event for the first time in his career at next week's North American Open, the second World Series event of the year at The Westwood Club in Richmond, Virginia, from 20-25 February.
Willstrop leads a star-studded field featuring six former world number ones and five former champions of the event which is being staged in Virginia for the fourth year in a row.
The 28-year-old from Leeds - who has been combining preparation for the event with the launch of his book Shot and a Ghost - is expected to meet fellow Yorkshiremen Nick Matthew in next Saturday's final.
Matthew, the world No1 throughout 2011 who reclaimed his top ranking this month, successfully retained the NAO title last year and is now looking to win it for a third time in a row.
The English pair contested last month's final of the JP Morgan Tournament of Champions - the first PSA World Series event of the year in New York - with Matthew clinching the title for the first time.
Willstrop will begin his Richmond campaign against Switzerland's Nicolas Mueller, while Matthew faces Colombian Miguel Angel Rodriguez in the first round.
The 2012 North American Open will signal the long-awaited Tour return of Ramy Ashour, the 24-year-old Egyptian who has been sidelined with a hamstring injury since December.
Ashour, the No4 seed, finished as runner-up to Matthew in both the 2010 and 2011 finals - but this year is scheduled to face the world No1 in the semi-finals. Ashour, the 2009 champion, will take on a qualifier in the first round.
Mohd Azlan Iskandar, the Malaysian who became the event's eighth seed on the withdrawal of England's Peter Barker with a knee injury, won the title in 2007 in San Francisco. A quarter-finalist last year, Iskandar meets a qualifier in the opening round.
Qualifying gets underway tomorrow (Saturday) - see draw below
Main draw 1st round:
 James Willstrop (ENG) v Nicolas Mueller (SUI)
Thierry Lincou (FRA) v Patrick Chifunda (ZAM)
Hisham Mohamed Ashour (EGY) v Adrian Grant (ENG)
 Amr Shabana (EGY) v Qualifier
 Mohd Azlan Iskandar (MAS) v Qualifier
Ryan Cuskelly (AUS) v Qualifier
Saurav Ghosal (IND) v Shahier Razik (CAN)
 Gregory Gaultier (FRA) v Qualifier
 Ramy Ashour (EGY) v Qualifier
Cameron Pilley (AUS) v Qualifier
Alan Clyne (SCO) v Qualifier
 Karim Darwish (EGY) v Qualifier
 Laurens Jan Anjema (NED) v Alister Walker (BOT)
Simon Rosner (GER) v Chris Ryder (ENG)
Olli Tuominen (FIN) v Julian Illingworth (USA)
 Nick Matthew (ENG) v Miguel Angel Rodriguez (COL)
1st qualifying round:
Martin Knight (NZL) bye
Matthew Karwalski (AUS) v John Street (USA)
Shawn Delierre (CAN) v Andrew Wagih Shoukry (EGY)
Gregoire Marche (FRA) v Sean Steinour (USA)
Siddharth Suchde (IND) v Yasir Butt (PAK)
Kamran Khan (MAS) v Yann Perrin (FRA)
Chris Simpson (ENG) v Fred Reid (CAN)
Zac Alexander (AUS) bye
Karim Abdel Gawad (EGY) bye
Adrian Waller (ENG) v Francis Johnson (USA)
Cesar Salazar (MEX) v Christopher Gordon (USA)
Mathieu Castagnet (FRA) v Julien Balbo (FRA)
Jan Koukal (CZE) v Ryan Donegan (USA)
Campbell Grayson (NZL) v Joey Barrington (ENG)
Robbie Temple (ENG) v Olivier Pett (ENG)
Omar Abdel Aziz (EGY) bye
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