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PSA: Matthew the master in Manchester

Alan Thatcherhttps://squashmad.com
Founder of World Squash Day, Squash Mad and the new Squash 200 Partnership, building clubs of the future. Founder of the Kent Open and co-promoter of the St. James's Place Canary Wharf Classic. Author and Public Speaker.

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Champion Nick Matthew. Pictures by STEVE CUBBINS, courtesy of www.squashsite.co.uk

Springfield Solutions British Grand Prix – Manchester 2012 – Final

[2] Nick Matthew (Eng) 3-1 [1] James Willstrop (Eng) 4/11, 11/6, 11/9, 11/6 (78m)

Matthew maintains the run to collect British Grand Prix title

By STEVE CUBBINS
Nick Matthew, appearing in his 50th PSA final, went one better than last year when he claimed the Springfield Solutions British Grand Prix title with a 3-1 win over top seed and Yorkshire rival James Willstrop in tonight’s final at the National Squash Centre in Manchester.

Matthew, the reigning world champion, entered the match as favourite on the back of an impressive head to head record against world number one Willstrop, who had come through a gruelling two-hour semi-final last night against third seed Gregory Gaultier of France while Matthew spent well under half the time on court in his win against Peter Barker.

But it was Willstrop who started the stronger, quickly taking the lead in the first game, extending an early 5/1 lead to 8/2 and 9/4 with Matthew making uncharacteristic unforced errors – six in all as the game finished 11/4.

Matthew settled into his game in the second, lengthening the rallies and opening up a 7/3 lead, and he levelled the match 11/6. Many expected him to press on from there, but it was Willstrop who started the third game the better, leading 6/2. 

Matthew kept the pressure on, pulled back to one point behind at 7/8, and although Willstrop hung in to 9-all he was having to do a lot of work now as Matthew sent him to all corners of the court. 

Matthew took the game and the lead, 11/9 with a dropshot that was just too tight, and continued to play the dominant role in the fourth. Willstrop never stopped chasing, but chasing it was as Matthew, the early errors now a distant memory, steadily forged ahead 4/2, 6/2, 8/5, then 10/5 with a straight drive that was just one retrieve too many for Willstrop.

One match ball was saved, but Matthew finished it off on his second opportunity to become the British Grand Prix champion.

“I wasn’t one of those who thought James wouldn’t be ready for tonight,” shared the new champion with the crowd afterwards, “he’s one of the best competitors there is whether he’s plays one or four hours before, and he’s so mentally strong.

“His physicality much better these days – I’ve got my own physical trainer to thank for that! – and his reach is even longer than mine, you really have to work to win any point.

“I was in two minds at the start whether to go for it or to keep it long, and I made a few mistakes, but I managed to get it together in the end.

“It feels great to win this title, it’s a tremendous tournament, the sponsors and the organisers do a great job, and I’m sure that James and I are looking forward to coming back here for the Nationals next year, and then the World Championships in Manchester too.”

Willstrop wasn’t unhappy with his performance: “It was a good quality match, we were both hitting the areas, and even if it maybe wasn’t our sharpest it was still a good, enjoyable match.

“It was level, and very tough, he managed to get through the crucial end of the third game better and that helped him push on in the fourth where I couldn’t quite get it together.

“There’s some stuff I could have done better, but he made it very difficult for me, all credit to him. 

“It was a good week, great atmosphere, I really enjoyed it here, you just have to move on, learn, and keep pushing.”

The moment of victory for Nick Matthew

——————–

SquashSite Coverage: www.squashsite.co.uk/bgp

Official Site: www.britishsquashgrandprix.com

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