Wolf is still hungry for success
World No.3 Nick Matthew is hoping that a change of date for the 2016 Allam British Open, which returns to its traditional March slot on the PSA World Tour calendar after being staged in May for several years, will help him challenge for the title when the tournament gets under way at Hull’s Airco Arena on Monday, March 21.
The 2006, 2009 and 2012 British Open champion is the most decorated Englishmen ever to play the sport after a sparkling 18-year career and has been in superb form in recent months, finishing as runner-up at both the J.P. Morgan Tournament of Champions and the Motor City Open in January and winning a record 8th British Nationals title a fortnight ago.
But the 35-year-old admits that he is having to manage his body and his schedule better than in recent years and points to the fact that the British Open will now take place over the Easter weekend as something that could benefit him as he challenges for a fourth title at the ‘Wimbledon of Squash’.
“This year, with the event taking place in March, I think that changes the dynamic a little,” said Matthew.
“At 35 trying to peak for a May event at the end of the season was maybe taking too much out of me in the last couple of seasons so hopefully it coming earlier is a benefit for me.
“When I was growing up, the tournament was always during the Easter week and I used to go down in the school holidays and watch three or four days of the event, so hopefully that change is a good omen for me.”
Sadly, Matthew will not be back at Canary Wharf to defend the title he won for a fifth time last year. He explains: “I believe I still have the quality to compete and win major titles and I’m still hungry, which you have to be if you want to compete. But you need to be smart as well and adapt.
“I have the quality but maybe not the quantity so this year I’m not pushing myself to play in every tournament like I have done in past years. You have to continually evolve as a player and that’s been at the forefront of my mind this season.”
‘The Wolf’ points to his 2006 victory, where he beat former World No.1 Thierry Lincou in the final, as a triumph that laid the foundations for his rise as one of squash’s greatest ever players.
“I’ve won the British Open three times and the win in 2006 was a real breakthrough for me because I wasn’t considered a top contender at that point,” he said.
“The history and tradition of the tournament is next to none, so to win when I wasn’t a contender, and for that to be my first major tournament win, was surreal and I feel very fortunate that I’ve been able to win it since and join that history. It was a huge boost for me, it gave me the belief that I could win major tournaments. There’s nothing better than winning the British Open as your first major event.
“Along with the World Championship, the British Open is the one you really target every year.”
The 2016 Allam British Open, PSA World Series tournament, takes place in Hull, England from Saturday 19th to Sunday 27th March. Qualification rounds will take place at the University of Hull on the 19th & 20th March while the main draw action will be played at the Airco Arena from the 21st March.
Tickets for the 2016 Allam British Squash Championships can be booked online at www.isportstore.com, by telephone on (+44) 0 844 8797 949 or for more information email [email protected]