NICK Matthew and James Willstrop head into 2014’s first big event on the PSA Tour determined to put on a grand show in New York.
The Yorkshire duo find themselves in the top half of the draw, with a semi-final encounter a likely outcome as both men strive to regain a title they have won previously.
Sheffield-born Matthew, who entered the year as the new world No 1 and won the event in 2012 with victory over Willstrop, is first up on court, taking on fellow Englishman Adrian Grant.
Pontefract’s Willstrop, who defeated three-time winner Ramy Ashour to lift the crown in 2010, will face an as-yet unknown qualifier when he steps on to the spectacular showcourt at the city’s Grand Central Terminal later this evening.
Ashour’s persistent injury problems have meant he sits out another major event on the world tour, leaving three-time world champion Matthew as top seed.
Willstrop, who has often cited the event as one of his favourites on the schedule, said he was keen to get the year off to good start
“I have had some spectacular experiences here over the years,” he said.
“Win or lose, the crowds and the atmospherics at Grand Central Station just can’t be surpassed. At times, it is magical.
“I’ve reached a couple of finals here, and then won in 2010 – so that’s a week I am always pleased to recall.”
In the women’s draw, Harrogate’s Jenny Duncalf is seeded seventh and opens her bid on Monday night against an as-yet unknown qualifier.