Matthew Escapes Early Scare In Qatar
30 Oct 2017
England's three-time World Champion Nick Matthew was forced to call upon all his experience to avoid a shock defeat against un-fancied German qualifier Raphael Kandra in the first round of the 2017 Qatar Classic, the second PSA World Series event of the 2017/18 season in the Qatar capital Doha.
The 37-year-old, competing in his 20th and final season on the PSA World Tour, looked to be in cruise control early on against the world No.42 as he took the first two games to establish a commanding lead.
But Kandra, ten years Matthew's junior, was equal to the challenge, winning the next two games to set up a compelling decider during which he matched Matthew all the way to 8-all. With an early exit looming, however, the gritty Yorkshireman managed to find just enough to escape, sealing the 12-10, 11-9, 5-11, 8-11, 11-8 win that takes him through to face Frenchman Mathieu Castagnet - who defeated Scotsman Alan Clyne - in the second round.
"I was hitting hard and running with him early on, which was silly because he's much younger than me," said Matthew.
"But finally at the end I started to use my brain and my experience - which shows you it's never too late. He was sharper than me today but it was experience that saw me through.
"I got out of jail. In the middle of the game I was mentally booking my flight back home. Then I told myself to push on and just win ugly. I don't want to discredit him, he rushed me and hurried me and pressured me but I have to go away and learn and focus on my own thing and not worry about anyone else."
Matthew's victory was just one of eight on a day of marathon encounters at the Khalifa International Tennis & Squash Complex which was highlighted by Omar Mosaad's thrilling and gruelling 108-minute victory over Colombia's Miguel Angel Rodriguez.
The opening game alone lasted 28 minutes and set up what was to follow as the duo traded blows back and forth all the way until a fifth game tie-break that saw both squander match ball opportunities before Mosaad, a former world No.3 who slipped outside the top 30 this year, forced the error that secured his place to take on fellow Egyptian Marwan Elshorbagy for a place in the quarter-finals.
"You always know against him that it will be physical and that you need to stick to your plan," said Mosaad.
"I had a good result at the last event I played and it's important to try and stay in that zone and keep consistent. I'm trying to get back up the rankings and I need to win more matches to get back on track.
"In the fifth I was getting tired and getting some cramps but I just tried to fight and keep focused. I'm happy with how I managed to do that and stay mentally strong."
"Today I wasn't at my best but you aren't always at your best and in those days you have to find a way to win and get to the next round," said the Egyptian No.1.
"He put a lot of pressure on me today so I'm very happy to come through."