British squash hero Nick Matthew in no rush to decide future despite defeat at Dubai World Series Finals
DUBAI // A three-time British Open winner – the first home-grown champion at the tournament in 67 years – and owner of three World Championship titles, Nick Matthew has held the No 1 ranking as well and scaled virtually every peak in the sport in nearly two decades on the tour.
Yet, he plays on.
Seven weeks short of his 37th birthday on July 25, the Sheffield resident is still ranked as high as No 4 in the world, battling and beating opponents much younger than him. In February, he won his ninth British national title and a few weeks later, Matthew reached his fifth British Open final, losing to Gregory Gaultier.
So age, as he would like to think, is “just a number”. But then there are days, like yesterday when he was drubbed 11-7, 11-6 by 25-year-old Karim Abdel Gawad in 21 minutes, when Matthew does wonder if it is time to bid adieu.
“He made me feel a little bit older and slow today,” said Matthew, who was beaten by Marwan ElShorbagy in his opening group match of the Dubai World Series Finals and will now play for pride against Simon Rosner on Thursday with no hopes of progressing into the last four.
“Obviously, when you do get beaten up quite badly like that, you obviously start to consider, ‘Have I still got it?’,” added Matthew, but he insists he is not going to make any decision about his future in a rush.
“We are really hard on ourselves. I am probably the most hard on myself because I have really high expectations of myself. But sometimes you actually have to take stock – I am 37 next month and look, there’s not been many people in the history of the game that are playing Top four in the rankings at that age.
“So without being like, ‘Hey, look at me’, sometimes you need to just actually take stock and say, ‘Look, I am not doing too bad’.”
Men’s Group A
1-Karim Abdel Gawad (EGY) bt 5-Nick Matthew (ENG) 11-7, 11-6
4-Marwan ElShorbagy (EGY) bt 7-Simon Rosner (GER) 11-8, 4-11, 11-6
Men’s Group B
8-Ali Farag (EGY) bt 2-Gregory Gaultier (FRA) 11-5, 11-7
3-Mohamed ElShorbagy (EGY) bt 6-James Willstrop (ENG) 11-8, 11-9
Women’s Group A
1-Camille Serme (FRA) bt 5-Nouran Gohar (EGY) 11-6, 12-14, 14-12
4-Raneem El Welily (EGY) bt 8-Alison Waters (ENG) 16-14, 11-7
Women’s Group B
3-Laura Massaro (ENG) bt 6-Nicol David (MAS) 12-10, 12-10
7-Sarah-Jane Perry (ENG) bt 2-Nour El Sherbini (EGY) 9-11, 11-9, 11-4
So, does that mean he will be back on the tour next season?
“That was the plan, until I got absolutely hammered today,” Matthew said with a laugh. “Now I am thinking about it again.
“Obviously, time like right now is not the time to make decisions like that. That’s the time when you are fresh and stuff. So I will look into things that seriously when I’ve had a holiday, enjoyed Dubai, etc.”
Earlier on Monday night, Ali Farag brought world No 1 Gaultier’s incredible 27-match unbeaten run to an end with a 11-5, 11-7 win.
The women’s world No 1 and world champion Nour El Sherbini also started her campaign with a defeat, losing 9-11, 11-9, 11-4 to Englishwoman Sarah-Jane Perry.
“I’m feeling pretty amazing,” Perry said. “I think this is the first time I’ve beaten Nour, but it’s also the first time that I’ve beaten the current world No 1.
“I’ve earned my place here, especially in the second half of the season and I want to be a contender. If I play well and move well on the day then I believe that I can beat anyone.”
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Updated: June 7, 2017 04:00 AM