06-Nov, Finals:
Matthew makes it two
Richard Eaton

Nick Matthew, the first Englishman ever to win a World Open squash title, denied Gregory Gaultier the dream of becoming only the second Frenchman to win it by prevailing 6-11, 11-9, 11-6, 11-5 in a final of great fluctuations, high emotions, and repeated controversy.

When the 31-year-old Yorkshireman trailed by a game and 1-3 it seemed he was slipping into trouble, but he painstakingly pulled back the deficit during some fiercely prolonged rallies and some refereeing decisions which upset Gaultier.

Several of these caused the crowd to boo loudly and eventually Gaultier lost his patience, telling the British official: "you never hesitate to give a no let against me," a comment which gained him a code violation warning.

The man from Aix-en-Provence was also afflicted by an ankle injury at 6-8 in the third game, which caused him to lose nine of the next ten points after taking a three-minute injury break.

But Matthew was magnificent -- physically resilient, tactically flexible, and once again mentally very strong. In the last 16 he had had to recover from two games down against the local hero, Laurens Jan Anjema.

"I stuck in, stuck in, stuck in, and just started to attack a little bit," he said. "I got a finger in the door, and then my body through, and saw a chink of light and went for it."

That does little justice to the quality of his squash. Matthew had a sharp instinct of when best to heat the pace - as he did during his difficult moments in the second game - or rally more steadily, as he did after Gaultier showed signs of physical fatigue.

He also showed a calculated and damaging ability to take the ball in short, a potentially risky proposition against someone of Gaultier's speed of foot and racket skills. And he never showed a hint of panic.

He did though give his opinions forthrightly to the referee. "We probably talk to the referees too much," Matthew commented drily when asked why squash is not yet an Olympic sport. "In the heat of the moment we say things which show how much we care about what we are doing.

"I hope the crowd don't hold it against us. It's really all in good spirit, and I have great respect for the way Greg Gaultier handles himself."

The match had two big turning points. One happened after Gaultier's altercation with the referee, when he endured two more decisions which irritated him, and recovered from 7-10 to 9-10, only to lose the game on a penalty point when the ball lurched crazily out of the front-wall sidewall join.

The other was when the players collided late in the third game, and Gaultier had spray applied to his ankle. After it Matthew quickly took advantage of Gaultier's inability to move freely to the front.

"It would have been easier to cope with the fatigue had I managed to get two games up," Gaultier said. "I am very disappointed. But he played very well.

"I am also disappointed with the referee, and the video review referee in particular. He was there to make things better but he made things worse.

"There was no consistency, so we didn't know what line to the ball to take."

Earlier Nicol David achieved a record sixth World Open title by outplaying world number two Jenny Duncalf 11-2, 11-5, 11-0 in slightly less than half an hour with her most devastating performance yet in a world final.

The 28-year Amsterdam-based Malaysian's speed was exceptional as usual, but she added to it immaculate driving, incisive front court play, and an almost error-free performance which was irresistible.

"It was my best performance, without doubt," she agreed with pundits. "I didn't expect anything. I wanted this so badly, but it was a whole different experience out there this time.

"Everything just came together, and at the right time. It was at another level. It was a World Open final, and it was the world title and I didn't want anyone to touch that trophy."

David had been helped surpass Sarah Fitz-gerald's record five world titles by the Australian herself, who sometimes trains and practises with her.

"The world title is so huge for me, but even so I would trade all of my world titles for an Olympic gold medal," added David, who is an ambassador for squash's bid to get into the 2020 Games.

Also from Richard Eaton:

Matthew Aware ] Nicol Wants More ] Gaultier a contender again? ] Thierry Goes On ] Unusual start for Nicol ] Thanks for the Memories ] The Great Illusionist Escapes ] Ashour Retires ] Gregory's Third ] [ Matthew makes it Two ]

Matthew Aware ] Nicol Wants More ] Gaultier a contender again? ] Thierry Goes On ] Unusual start for Nicol ] Thanks for the Memories ] The Great Illusionist Escapes ] Ashour Retires ] Gregory's Third ] [ Matthew makes it Two ]

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