‘Rock Star’ Matthew Revels In NYC Return
14 January 2013
From HOWARD HARDING
England’s world number two Nick Matthew can’t wait to defend his title at this week’s J.P. Morgan Tournament of Champions – the first PSA World Series squash championship of the year in New York City where he and his fellow Tour players are welcomed like ‘rock stars’.
The 2013 J.P. Morgan Tournament of Champions, featuring 23 of the top 25 players in the world, will be staged for the 16th year at the world-famous Grand Central Terminal, from 18-24 January.
Matthew, the 32-year-old from Sheffield who topped the world rankings throughout 2011, claimed the Tournament of Champions’ title for the first time last year after finishing as runner-up in 2006, 2009 and 2011.
Seeded two, the defending champion is expected to meet English rival James Willstrop, the top seed and 2007 champion, in a repeat of the 2012 final – and a predicted sixth successive final featuring an Englishman.
“The ToC is a massive tournament and is without a doubt my favourite event on the tour,” said Matthew as he prepared for the first ranking event of the year.
“It is the only time we squash players feel like rock stars and it was a lifelong ambition to get my name on the trophy.
“I have been in the final four times and won the US Open in New York in 1997 and also got voted PSA player of the year there in 2011 – so I have massively fond memories of the city.”
Matthew competed in last week’s ATCO PSA World Series Finals at The Queen’s Club in London. Action from the star-studded event, which boasted the top eight players from the 2012 World Series championships, was broadcast live to a potential worldwide audience of more than 300 million.
“Last week in Queen’s it was fantastic for the sport to get live coverage on Sky, not only for us to showcase our abilities but to promote the Olympic bid too,” added Matthew. “Hopefully we can continue the momentum in New York.”
Matthew begins his campaign against former England team-mate Alister Walker, the New York-based world No15 now representing Botswana.
World number three Willstrop lines up against top-ranked Colombian Miguel Angel Rodriguez in the first round.
2011 champion Ramy Ashour, the 25-year-old Egyptian who now tops the world rankings after clinching the PSA World Championship last month in Qatar, will make a welcome return to Tour action at Grand Central after a hamstring injury forced his withdrawal from the World Series Finals.
Ashour, the fourth seed, takes on a qualifier in the opening round and is set to meet Willstrop in the semi-finals.
1st round draw:
 James Willstrop (ENG) v Miguel Angel Rodriguez (COL)
Tarek Momen (EGY) v Qualifier
Adrian Grant (ENG) v Cameron Pilley (AUS)
 Peter Barker (ENG) v Stephen Coppinger (RSA)
 Omar Mosaad (EGY) v Nicolas Mueller (SUI)
Ong Beng Hee (MAS) v Qualifier
Simon Rosner (GER) v Qualifier
 Ramy Ashour (EGY) v Qualifier
 Gregory Gaultier (FRA) v Hisham Mohd Ashour (EGY)
Tom Richards (ENG) v Todd Harrity (USA)
Olli Tuominen (FIN) v Qualifier
 Mohamed El Shorbagy (EGY) v Laurens Jan Anjema (NED)
 Karim Darwish (EGY) v Qualifier
Saurav Ghosal (IND) v Qualifier
Amr Shabana (EGY) v Qualifier
 Nick Matthew (ENG) v Alister Walker (BOT)
More details on the official event site www.tocsquash.com
For all the latest Tour news: www.psaworldtour.com