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British Open win for Matthew

2012-05-20 18:55
Nick Matthew (File)

London - World champion Nick Matthew became the first Englishman to win the British Open three times when he overcame Ramy Ashour, the former world champion from Egypt, 11-9, 11-4, 11-8 on Sunday.

It was a typically efficient all-round performance by the 31-year-old Yorkshireman who sought to snuff out the threat of Ashour's potent shot-making and phases of brilliant play.

Matthew did that by keeping the ball tight from the start and trying to ensure he won the first game which, despite a deficit of 6-8, he narrowly did.

This score-line further kept the shackles on Ashour, who looked like he had not recovered totally after a tough semi-final on Saturday against another Englishman, James Willstrop.

Thereafter Matthew showed what an improved all round player he has become late in his career, using long strides to gobble up the court, picking his moments carefully to take the ball in short, and never showing any hint of temperamental wobbles.

He was watched by Jahangir Khan, the ten times former British Open champion from Pakistan, who inspired Matthew to take up the sport.

"When I was a kid I went with my family to watch Jahangir at the British Open at Wembley," he said. "Who would have thought that I would been able to win it myself, three times?"

The result prevented Ashour becoming the first Egyptian winner for 46 years, and his subdued, error-sprinkled performance was a disappointment after his sensational efforts against both Willstrop and Amr Shabana, the four times former world champion.

But he was given limited room to express himself by the canny Matthew, and never quite appeared to escape the tension of the occasion.

He yelled at himself and hit the wall loudly early in the third game, after placing a volley drop into the tin, and at the end disappeared for several minutes before the presentation ceremony to hide his grief.

"I need to be in a good state of mind to win," Ashour had said before the final, and he never achieved that.

He did try to change his attitude and rally more conservatively in the third game, trying to halt the slide away from him.

That got him back from 2-6 to 8-7 but the perceptive Matthew then worked opportunities to insert three winning drops into the rallies, which quelled the comeback.

"I shall be 32 this summer and, who knows, I still feel good, but Ramy is going to have more of these days than I am," said Matthew.

Earlier Nicol David, the World Open record-holder from Malaysia, regained the women's title with an 11-6, 11-6, 11-6 win over Nour El Sherbini, the first Egyptian woman finalist and at 16 the youngest ever finalist.

David is well aware of the threat that the tall teenager now poses, perhaps the greatest since squash's highest profile player rose to number one six years ago.

"I have to go home and work on my game because she's coming up," the 28-year-old champion said. "She's definitely up there with the rest of us now."

Results in the British Open on Sunday (x denotes seeding):


Nick Matthew (ENG x3) bt Ramy Ashour (EGY x4) 11-9, 11-4, 11-8


Nicol David (MAS x1) bt Nour El Sherbini (EGY x16) 11-6, 11-6, 11-6

Read more on:    squash

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