The latest edition of the Qatar Classic, a Platinum level event on the PSA World Tour, gets underway at the weekend, between November 1-7.
The event will be held at the impressive Khalifa International Tennis and Squash Complex in Doha, which has been the venue for the tournament ever since its inception in the early 2000s.
The Qatar Classic is the successor of the Qatar International, which took place between 1992-1997. The tournament then took a year off in 1998 to host the PSA Men's World Championship – in which Jonathan Power downed Peter Nicol – before returning in its new guise three years later.
The first instalment of the Qatar Classic took place in 2001, and was an event which saw both men’s and women’s draws. Sarah Fitz-Gerald lifted the inaugural women’s event, while Peter Nicol was the first men’s winner of the tournament.
Nicol would retain his title a year later, as Englishmen won the first four editions of the tournament. Lee Beachill won the event in 2003, before James Willstrop then won the title in 2005.
The women’s event was not held in 2002 due to the World Championships being played in Doha instead, something that also saw the men’s version of the tournament skip a year on four different occasions, the first of those being in 2004.
The men’s World Championships were also held at the Khalifa International Tennis and Squash Complex in place of the Qatar Classic in 2012, 2014 and most recently, in 2019.
Natalie Grainger won the women’s event in 2003, before Vanessa Atkinson claimed the title in back-to-back years, becoming the first multiple winner of the tournament. The Dutchwoman was followed by Nicol David, who won in Qatar five times, including twice in 2007.
The Malaysian won the title in April and October 2007, after the scheduled event in late 2006 was pushed back to a later date in the season. She then won it again in 2008, 2010 and 2011, with only England’s Jenny Duncalf able to stop her title-winning run.
Since then, though, there has only been one women’s event held at the Qatar Classic, with another Englishwoman, former World No.1 Laura Massaro, winning the title. She defeated Nour El Sherbini in an epic five-game final in 2015, and remains the last women’s winner in Doha.
The men’s event continues to run strongly though, and following the English dominance of the first four events, the Egyptians took over, and have won all bar two editions of the Qatar Classic since the double in 2007.
Ramy Ashour won in April of that year, with Amr Shabana then taking the title in October, before Karim Darwish got the first of his two Qatar Classic crowns in 2008. He would go on to win it again two years later.
Nick Matthew (2009) and Gregory Gaultier (2011) are the only non-Egyptians to have won the men’s event at the Khalifa International Tennis and Squash Complex in the last 15 years, with the Frenchman holding the title for two years due to the 2020 World Championships being held in place of the tournament.
The 2013 tournament was the first of Mohamed ElShorbagy’s three Qatar Classic victories. ‘The Beast’ also won the event in 2015 and 2017, while Karim Abdel Gawad won the title in 2016. Ali Farag remains the most recent winner of the event, taking the title two years ago, with the World Championships being held in Doha in place of the tournament last November.
Previous Winners: Men
2018 – Ali Farag (EGY)
2017 – Mohamed ElShorbagy (EGY)
2016 – Karim Abdel Gawad (EGY)
2015 – Mohamed ElShorbagy (EGY)
2013 – Mohamed ElShorbagy (EGY)
2011 – Gregory Gaultier (FRA)
2010 – Karim Darwish (EGY)
2009 – Nick Matthew (ENG)
2008 – Karim Darwish (EGY)
2007 (Oct) – Amr Shabana (EGY)
2007 (Apr) – Ramy Ashour (EGY)
2005 – Jams Willstrop (ENG)
2003 – Lee Beachill (ENG)
2002 – Peter Nicol (ENG)
2001 – Peter Nicol (ENG)
Previous Winners: Women
2015 – Laura Massaro (ENG)
2011 – Nicol David (MAS)
2010 – Nicol David (MAS)
2009 – Jenny Duncalf (ENG)
2008 – Nicol David (MAS)
2007 (Oct) – Nicol David (MAS)
2007 (Apr) – Nicol David (MAS)
2005 – Vanessa Atkinson (NED)
2004 – Vanessa Atkinson (NED)
2003 – Natalie Grainger (USA)
2001 – Sarah Fitz-Gerald (AUS)