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23 Jul 2024

England's New US Open Champion Matthew Determined To Win At Home

19 Oct 2007

While 'entente cordiale' may not have applied in last week's Rugby Union World Cup semi-final, Sheffield's Nick Matthew says that relations between the English and the French on the squash court aren't always that good either.

Matthew, the 27-year-old world No10 who won his first PSA Super Series title this month at the US Open and will compete in his home town at the Mamut English Open in December, says the prominence, and dominance, of top French players Thierry Lincou and Gregory Gaultier often leads to some tense times between the walls.

"Both Thierry and Gregory are terrific players. In some ways they are they similar but they also have lots of differences. Gregory is a lot more flamboyant, Gallic if you like, while Thierry is further on with his career," explains the 2006 British Open champion.

"Generally we get on well, but when it comes to the team events the French don't have much depth after those two - so they have to win their games, which leads to a few bruising encounters."

Gaultier and Lincou, ranked third and seventh in the world, have also dominated recent domestic tournaments - much to the disgust of the England number two: "They played each other in the final of the British Open in September and last year in Sheffield at the English Open they knocked all us Yorkshire lads out to meet in the final at the Crucible."

With the Mamut English Open moving to Matthew's training base at the English Institute of Sport in Sheffield this December, a repeat of last year's final is something Matthew won't even contemplate.

"The EIS is pretty much my second home I spend so much time there. Winning in Sheffield is very important to me - I've not managed to do it yet, although I've been close."

However, before the English Open, Matthew is concentrating on three Super Series Platinum events in Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Hong Kong that could make or break his season over the next four weeks.

"There are three layers to the Super Series, with Platinum being the highest, giving more ranking points and prize money. Winning the US Open was a real breakthrough because it was the first time I'd won a 'major' away from the UK.

"It is going to be a long stretch away from home and then there is the World Open in Bermuda at the end of November. So it is a tough run but at least I know I have a tournament on my home patch to look forward to."

The 2007 Mamut English Open Championships - the final PSA Tour event of the year, hosted by Sheffield City Council - takes place the English Institute of Sport in Sheffield from Saturday 15 December to Tuesday 18 December.

Tickets, priced from £12.50 - £25.00, are available with immediate effect from Ticketmaster, either via the website www.Ticketmaster.co.uk or by telephone on 0870-150 0541. All details are available on the event's official website www.englishopensquash.co.uk