Former world champion Nick Matthew says he will enter fewer tournaments next season in the hope of breaking Ramy Ashour’s current domination of the men’s game.
Matthew was the last player to beat Ashour, in last year’s British Open final at the O2 Arena in London, but the Egyptian has won eight consecutive tournaments since then.
Matthew may be 33 in July, but he still feels he can compete at the very highest level.
After losing to Gregory Gaultier in the semi-finals of the 2013 British Open at Hull, Matthew told the Sheffield Star: “I have consistently got into the semi-finals and finals of events but I have not had a major victory this year that would have turned it from being a good season into a great one.
“I have been there or thereabouts and I know if I keep performing like I did in the British Open for the rest of my career that I have certainly got a few more titles left in me.”
Matthew lost to England team-mates Daryl Selby and Peter Barker in consecutive events in March, in Kuwait and at the Canary Wharf Classic, having been runner-up to Ashour in the Davenport North American Open.
Matthew added: “I’m not going to play as many tournaments next year. I am going to try and peak for the ones that mean most to me, such as the World Championships in October.
“I think I have overplayed a little bit this year and my performances have suffered at certain stages during the season. I have learned from that and I am looking to manage my time better.
“My performances at the British Open were back to the levels where I want them to be. I had no tournament for eight weeks so I had a good training block and that was key.
“In the previous three months, I played eight events and I had no time to train. It is like when footballers play three times in a week for two months. Eventually, your performances catch up with you.
“I have got to be sensible with my workload. It is similar to the Ryan Giggs situation at Manchester United where he plays one match and then he is left out of the next one.”
Matthew is to be honoured in his home city of Sheffield.
He has been announced as the next Sheffield Legend to join the city’s prestigious ‘Walk of Fame’ outside the Town Hall, joining the likes of Jessica Ennis, Sean Bean, Michael Palin and Sir Sebastian Coe on the city’s ‘Hollywood Boulevard-style’ attraction outside the Town Hall.
Matthew claimed his maiden British Open title back in 2006 – the first home-grown winner for 67 years, and has since gone on to become a two-time world champion and double Commonwealth Games gold medalist.
Sheffield’s new Lord Mayor and Chair of the Sheffield Legends initiative, Councillor Vickie Priestley said: “Nick will be a fantastic addition to the city’s ‘walk of fame’. As a double world champion, among countless other title wins, he is an excellent role model for young people and another shining example of the city’s sporting legacy. Nick’s success has helped promote Sheffield’s international reputation for sporting excellence”.
On receiving the news Matthew said: ‘I am delighted to have been nominated as the next Sheffield Legend. Having lived in Sheffield all of my life, I know exactly how prestigious this award is and am honoured to be joining some amazing names on the Walk of Fame outside the Town Hall.
“The city has always been incredibly supportive, but I would particularly like to thank the people involved at Hallamshire Squash Club, the English Institute of Sport and my old school, High Storrs, for all of their help over the years. I feel proud to represent our fabulous city when I play in squash events all over the world .”
Launched in 2004, the Sheffield Legends are nominated by local people and chosen by an independent Selection Board representing various sectors within the city – the arts, sport, education, media and business – which is chaired by the Lord Mayor.
Nick’s plaque of honour will be unveiled at an official ceremony later in the summer, with an exact date due to be announced in the next couple of weeks.
For more information about Sheffield Legends visit www.welcometosheffield.co.uk/