Thursday, May 30, 2024

NAO: Final: Mighty Matthew masters Ashour to retain Richmond title

PSA North American Open, Westwood Club, Richmond, Virginia, USA

Final: (1) Nick Matthew (England) beat (2) Ramy Ashour (Egypt) 11-9, 11-5, 8-11, 8-11, 11-6 (85 minutes)

Top seed Nick Matthew retained the North American Open title after beating his great rival Ramy Ashour in a momentous final of this $115,000 PSA World Series Tour event at the Westwood Club in Richmond, Virginia.

The 30-year-old world champion from Sheffield, England, triumphed 11-9, 11-5, 8-11, 8-11, 11-6 after 85 minutes of magical squash as the two giants of world squash competed in their third consecutive Richmond final.

With honours level at one victory each, Matthew recovered from 8-6 down to win the first game and then powered through the second, playing superb squash to force a succession of errors from his 23-year-old Egyptian opponent.

Matthew continued to dominate in the third game and when he advanced to 8-6 he was within touching distance of the trophy.

However, Ashour suddenly tightened up his game and reeled off five points in a row to fend off defeat.

Matthew continued to play tight, stylish and intelligent squash to generate a 6-4 lead in the fourth game but once again Ashour responded with his own unique brand of attacking play.

The winners began to flow as the  capacity crowd at the Westwood Club roared their encouragement.

Ashour collected five points in a row to lead 9-6 and then, after Matthew had crept back to 8-9, he closed out the game to take the match to a fifth game.

But he failed to maintain the momentum as Matthew marched imperiously towards his second Richmond title.

Ashour won the first point of the game but Matthew produced a devastating brand of controlled, almost error-free squash to lead 5-2 and then 8-3.

Ashour had the crowd on their feet as he won three vital points to reach 6-8 but Matthew closed out the match to gain revenge for his defeat in the final of the Tournament of Champions in New York, the first World Series event of the year.

A delighted Matthew said: “Ramy and I are building quite a rivalry but that match in New York was our first meeting since August last year, which shows how many good players there are at the top of the game who stop us from meeting in every final.

“It was a great match and as Ramy is a lot younger than me I hope I can keep the rivalry going for a few more years.

“I know the crowd were cheering for him to come back when I was 2-0 up but I won’t hold it against them. This tournament gets bigger and better every year and we have all enjoyed the superb new venue at the Westwood Club.

“The crowds have been great every day and the game is gaining a massive foothold in the United States.

“We had live coverage on ESPN for the semi-finals and finals and we hope that squash fans over here will continue to follow the Tour on our own PSA SquashTV streaming channel.”

For a third consecutive evening, the crowd finished the evening’s play with a standing ovation. This time Ashour, who reached the final with two spectacular victories against Gregory Gaultier and James Willstrop, failed to deliver.

Ashour said: “Nick is a great champion and today he showed why he is number one in the world. It was a fantastic match and I am sure we will have many more of them as we go round the world playing in so many great tournaments like this one.”

Ashour dedicated his victory in New York to the Egyptian nation and did the same today as he collected the runner’s-up trophy.



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