World No. 1 Nicol David of Malaysia heads a phalanx of international stars vying for the WISPA Women's International title at the Chennai Open squash championships, which begin at the Indian Squash Academy here on Tuesday.

The $53,000 WISPA event is the central attraction of the championships, which will also feature a $25,000 PSA men's International and a $15,000 doubles event.

Apart from David, the main draw boasts five other top 10 players, including England's Jenny Duncalf and Australia's Rachael Grinham, ranked three and four respectively in the world. All eight seeded players occupy the top 15 in the WISPA rankings.

The gathering of such elite athletes is indicative of the Chennai Open's increased profile this year, which has seen it upgraded to the WISPA Gold level.

Lone Indian

Joshna Chinappa, ranked 35, is for now the lone Indian in the main draw, with five others — Dipika Pallikal, Surbhi Misra, Anaka Alankamony, Aparajitha Balamurukan and Anwesha Reddy — among those vying for four qualifier spots.

Malaysian Ong Beng Hee, ranked 19 in the world, and Englishman Jonathan Kemp, ranked 21, are the top two seeds at the PSA men's International. Fifth seed Saurav Ghosal, ranked 30, holds India's most realistic hope of winning a title at the Open.

The qualifying rounds for both the men's and women's events will take place on Monday and Tuesday, and main draws begin on Wednesday. Following the men's and women's finals on March 7, the Chennai Open concludes with the doubles event (men's, women's and mixed) from March 8 to 11.

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