Solid start for long-term rivals Matthew and Gaultier as fans fill Grand Central Terminal
By NATHAN CLARKE – Squash Mad PSA Correspondent
English three-time World Champion Nick Matthew and French World No.2 Gregory Gaultier, the man Matthew beat to claim two of his world crowns, moved one step closer to a potential semi-final showdown at the 2015 J.P. Morgan Tournament of Champions after coming through their first round match-ups in Manhattan today (Jan 17).
In the opening PSA World Series event of 2015, taking place at the iconic Grand Central Terminal, the duo prevailed in strikingly different styles with Gaultier effortless against Hong Kong’s Max Lee while Matthew was given a stern test by compatriot Daryl Selby.
After opening proceedings with a gut-busting rally that set the scene for what was to follow, the English pair served up a 70-minute battle of attrition that saw them trade blows with spectacular retrievals interspersed with pinpoint accurate winning shots. But it was Sheffield-man Matthew who withstood an early Selby onslaught to complete a hard-earned 3-1 victory.
“That was a very tough match against Daryl today,” said 34-year-old Matthew.
“When he moves well he is a top ten player without any doubt. He’s had a few problems with his body over the past year but he’s been moving well again recently so I knew it was going to be a tough one.
“In the first game it took me a little while to find my range. He came out with an aggressive plan, making it tough to break him down, and that game was crucial.
“If he’d snuck it then it would have been a very tough ask as he always seems to counter me well so I was pleased to get off in four at the end and I’ll rest up tomorrow ready to return on Monday.”
The 2014 Tournament of Champions runner-up Gaultier took 44 minutes to get past Lee and never looked troubled against the World No.16.
“I maybe relaxed a little bit in the second game and let him get into it but it was a good first round match for me as it was fast paced and really got my body working,” said Gaultier.
“I had a few weeks off over Christmas but I was feeling fluid today so I’m happy with the win.”
Earlier in the day German World No.10 Simon Rösner came through a thrilling encounter with Stephen Coppinger, the South African World No.18, to book his place in the second round.
Two of the most physically imposing players on the PSA World Tour, the duo tested each other to the brink in an mammoth 87-minute battle that saw them trading points in a continuous series of brutal, energy-sapping rallies.
Coppinger took first blood with a 12-10 win in the opening game but Rösner showed the battling spirit that has taken him into the top ten for the first time in his career to bounce back and secure an impressive 3-1 win, taking the match 10-12, 11-4, 11-7, 12-10.
“There were a lot of very tight decisions today and it was a tough match for both of us,” said Rösner.
“Stephen is a top quality player and we’ve had some very tough battles in the past so I’m just really pleased to get through and win.
“I tried to play the match point by point and keep my focus all the way through and I’m just happy to still be in the tournament.”
There were also victories for Omar Mosaad, Mathieu Castagnet, Peter Barker and Miguel Angel Rodriguez while qualifier Tom Richards pulled off the biggest upset of the day to knock out Alister Walker 3-0.
Castagnet had to battle for 68 minutes to overcome world junior champion Diego Elias of Peru in a match of quality and commitment.
J.P. Morgan 2015 Tournament of Champions, Grand Central Terminal, New York:
Results – First Round, Bottom Half:
 Nick Matthew (ENG) bt Daryl Selby (ENG) 3-1: 12-10, 11-3, 7-11, 11-6 [70m] Omar Mosaad (EGY) bt [Q] Mohamed Abouelghar (EGY) 3-1: 11-3, 8-11, 11-3, 11-4 [66m] Mathieu Castagnet (FRA) bt [Q] Diego Elias (PER) 3-0: 11-3, 11-7, 3-11, 11-5 [68m]  Simon Rösner (GER) bt Stephen Coppinger (RSA) 3-1: 10-12, 11-4, 11-7, 12-10 [87m]  Peter Barker (ENG) bt Gregoire Marche (FRA) 3-0: 11-6, 11-5, 11-3 [47m] Miguel Angel Rodriguez (COL) bt [Q] Joe Lee (ENG) 3-0: 12-10, 11-4, 11-7 [51m] [Q] Tom Richards (ENG) bt Alister Walker (BOT) 3-0: 11-6, 11-6, 11-5 [37m]  Gregory Gaultier (FRA) bt Max Lee (HKG) 3-0: 11-1, 11-7, 11-2 [44m]
Second Round, Top Half (Sunday Jan 18)
 Mohamed Elshorbagy (EGY) v Nicolas Mueller (SUI)
Chris Simpson (ENG) v  Borja Golan (ESP)
 Tarek Momen (EGY) v Saurav Ghosal (IND)
Cameron Pilley (AUS) v  Amr Shabana (EGY)
Picture courtesy of PSA