Matthew maintains momentum as he dominates Canary Wharf final
By JOEL DURSTON and ALAN THATCHER at Canary Wharf
Nick Matthew bagged his fifth Canary Wharf title, beating Simon Rosner 11-4, 11-9, 11-7 in a heavyweight battle full of ferocious hitting and frenzied rallies.
The scoreline might suggest it was a fairly routine win against a lower-ranked opponent – it was anything but.
Rosner brought his A-game, which had already seen him beat James Willstrop and Peter Barker this week, but Matthew had an answer for everything the German “treechopper” could throw at him.
At times, it was like watching a prize fighter take punch after punch on the ropes and not only recover but have enough composure to land several haymakers of his own.
Not to say, he was merely counter-punching. In the pivotal second game, he hit seven winners to just one error – something Rosner credited afterwards.
Matthew said: “I’ve enjoyed this tonight. It’s amazing to win this title for the fifth time. It’s a great venue. This is where you want to be playing squash.
“I had one of those moments here two years ago where I was looking around wondering why I wasn’t enjoying it. Because I was thinking ‘You should be enjoying it’.
“That makes you appreciate it even more. It was just brilliant.
“I feel a bit guilty because two years in a row I’ve been the only person in the building that doesn’t want it to go to a five-game match. So apologies for that.”
The Wolf flew out of the blocks, to the extent that when he made his first error, at 7-1 up there was an audible note of alarm in the crowd, as if god farted.
He drew gasps from the crowd with some gut-ripping retrievals. After losing one such point Rosner, who displayed fantastic movement himself, was looking to the skies, presumably thinking ‘What must I do to beat this man?’
Matthew took the first game 11-4 and went three points up in the second. The 6ft 3in Rosner fought back with some ferocious hitting, but the Yorkshireman dealt with the onslaught and took it 11-9.
Then the intensity rose yet another level at the start of the third, with the rallies drawing several “oohs” and “aahs” from the packed-house crowd, before Matthew pulled away at 4-4 to make it 9-5.
Rosner fought back in some incredible rallies, to the delight of the crowd who wanted more – but, as Rosner said, Matthew was “just too good on the day”, sealing the win 11-7.
Tactically, Rosner couldn’t understand why he made such a slow start in the opening game. He said: “It’s a mystery. I did the same against Peter Barker last night and I need to do something about it. It’s not like I have any distractions. I’m just slow getting into the match.”
Rosner added: “Even when I was winning points I still felt I was under pressure the whole time. Nick is so strong across the middle of the court. I like to hit crosscourts and he likes to volley, so it’s a high-risk option. That’s something else I need to work on against him. Sometimes you just don’t have enough time to shape up to play the ball straight.”
WHAT THEY SAID
“He was just too good. Some days you just have to accept that. Nick is such an amazing player and he’s playing so well these days. I’m pleased with my week, pleased with the way I played tonight, I just lost to the better player.”
“I think this is just the beginning of the year. I’ve had some good results already in the first three months of 2015 on the Tour and this is a good step forward again. I’m able to go into the next tournaments with extra confidence because I know I can really challenge those boys. I’m looking forward to the rest of the year.
“Nick just doesn’t give you any simple points. You have opponents where you play and you feel that every once in a while they are going to give you a free point. That’s something Nick does extremely well; he’s error free and so mentally strong that it’s tough to get into his mind. I think he’s a true champion and I’m glad I was able to be in the final against him today.”
“First thing to say is congratulations to Simon on his week; beating James (Willstrop) and Peter (Barker) at a venue where they’ve played some of their best squash is a tough feat and three days in a row is tough mentally.
“I tried to make it really hard for him but I’m building up notes on Simon because he’s a very dangerous players and I need to be aware of how much he’s improving quickly. I’m sure we’ll be in a few more finals.
“I’ll enjoy this tonight. It’s amazing to win this title for a fifth time in this great venue. Places like this are where you want to be playing squash. I had my lowest moment here two years ago when I felt like I wasn’t enjoying it so when I do enjoy it, it makes you appreciate it even more.
“Life can change very quickly in sport, you know I’m aware of how quickly things can change. One minute you can feel a million dollars and the next minute injuries or loss of form or loss of motivation can catch up with you a little bit.
“I’m aware of hat and my longer term goals are more short term than they were when I was 25. Our brilliant sport is aiming for a place in the 2020 Olympics but my legs and back and hips are looking forward to having a seat in the commentary box and commentating on a Simon (vs) (Mohamed) El Shorbagy final or something.”
CANARY WHARF SQUASH CLASSIC 2015. East Wintergarden, Canary Wharf, London.
PSA International 50: (1) Nick Matthew (England) beat (4) Simon Rosner (Germany) 11-4, 11-9, 11-7 (54 mins)
Pictures by STEVE LINE (www.squashpics.com) and PATRICK LAUSON