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20 Jun 2024

Gaultier Grabs Tournament of Champions Title In New York

30 Jan 2009

Fourth-seeded Frenchman Gregory Gaultier claimed his first JP Morgan Tournament of Champions title after a gruelling four-game win over 10th seed Nick Matthew of England before a standing room only crowd in Vanderbilt Hall at Grand Central Terminal in the final of the $117,500 PSA Tour Super Series Gold squash event in New York.

"At the moment I am so tired I can't feel my body," Gaultier said after the match. "It is unbelievable - I had to give a big push from start to finish."

The contest between the two friends, who first played each other a little more than a decade ago at the 1998 Men's Junior World Championships, was decidedly European in style. Matthew jumped out to an early 7-2 lead in the first game, but Gaultier - who has emphasised all week how much mentally stronger he has become - battled back.

Although he didn't have the lead until the score was 9-8, the focused 26-year-old from Aix-en-Provence won the game 11-9. The crowd was glued to their seats - and to their standing spots in the front of the court.

Gaultier made several unforced errors in the second game and Matthew quickly won the game 11-2 to draw level. Historically, the Frenchman's tendency to make a string of errors had been his undoing. But this was a new and improved Gaultier on court and the third game was a seesaw battle: Matthew jumped out early to take a 3-0 lead; Gaultier tied it at three-all. The Englishman surged ahead again to go up 6-3; Gaultier reeled off several winners to forge ahead to 8-6. Matthew tied it again at eight-all, but it was Gaultier who grabbed the game 11-8.

Gaultier maintained the momentum to record his maiden New York title victory after 62 minutes in an 11-9, 2-11, 11-8, 11-4 scoreline.

"Gregory made me do a lot of work and that paid off for him in the fourth," said the 28-year-old from Sheffield afterwards.

Gaultier, now with 15 Tour titles to his credit, responded: "The score doesn't reflect how hard the game was. Even at 7-4, I had to push very hard."

Matthew, considered one of the strongest and fittest players on Tour, revealed that Gaultier is the only player that he believes has as much staying power and is strong as he is on court. Both players displayed superlative strength as they moved deep to the corners and covered the entire court during the many lengthy rallies.

In the past, the Frenchman's Achilles heel has been his inconsistency. But there was no such weakness in his game in the final. "I feel that I raised my game round after round here," said the tired but elated champion. "I am focusing to win as many tournaments as possible and this is my fourth final in a row.

"I am really proud to have my name added to the list of great players who have won the Tournament of Champions - players like Jansher Khan, Peter Nicol, Jonathon Power and Amr Shabana."

Final:
[4] Gregory Gaultier (FRA) bt [10] Nick Matthew (ENG) 11-9, 2-11, 11-8, 11-4 (62m)