NICK Matthew is one of the most senior players on the Professional Squash Association (PSA) Tour. The three-time world champion was awarded the Order of the British Empire last year for his outstanding contributions to the game.
Matthew, a regular at the Qatar Classic which he won in 2009 and finished as runner-up to Mohamed El Shorbagy in 2013, was also an active campaigner for the sport’s bid to get into the Olympic fold.
The 36-year-old, a winner of 33 PSA World Tour titles, had to survive a tough opening-round scare against Qatari wild card Abdullah Al Tamimi in the 12th edition of Qatar Classic at the Khalifa International Complex last week.
“I’ve been coming here since 2001. It’s really nice to come back, year after year. The Qatari hospitality is second to none. The tournament is going strong year after year,” Matthew said after his 71-minute match against Al Tamimi which he won 11-9, 11-8, 9-11, 10-12, 11-9.
Since the retirement of Egypt’s four-time world champion Amr Shabana, the baton of the best tactical player on the PSA circuit has passed on to Matthew.
The Sheffield-based player is enjoying his cult status.
“You’ve to use your brain in crunch situations. Tactical knowledge needs to come to the fore. That’s what I’ve figured out over the years,” added the world No.4.
Known as ‘The Wolf’ in PSA circles, Matthew has been on the circuit for close to two decades now. Though he has not revealed his retirement plans yet, he has hinted in the past that the 2018 Commonwealth Games in Gold Coast, Australia, could well be his last tournament.
“I’ve reached that stage of my career where I need to strike the right balance between being competitive and not pushing myself too far. I think it’s more like reinventing yourself,” Matthew said.
The most successful British player ever was in awe of Qatari prodigy Al Tamimi.
“Al Tamimi is such a clever player. In his corner, he has one of the greatest brains of the game — Geoff Hunt, the legend with him. Also people like Stewart Boswell and Jonathan Kemp who both played against me a lot.”