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17 Jun 2024

Nick Matthew Leads Home Charge At ROWE British Squash Grand Prix

7 Sep 2011

Yorkshire's world number one Nick Matthew will be leading the home charge at this month's ROWE British Grand Prix Championship, the biggest squash event this year in the UK which will take place at the National Squash Centre in Manchester from 19-25 September.

The ROWE British Grand Prix - Manchester 2011, the fourth of the nine PSA World Series championships in 2011, has attracted a star-studded field featuring 16 of the world's top 20 players, including six former world number ones and seven Englishmen ranked in the world top 30.

"It always means a lot to win any event, especially one which is at home at somewhere you are comfortable and have a lot of fond memories," said Matthew, the reigning World Open champion and double Commonwealth Games gold medallist on the eve of playing on the spectacular ASB all-glass showcourt at the National Squash Centre, where he won the British Grand Prix in 2006 as well as a number of other prestigious titles including three British National Championships and the second of his two British Open crowns in 2009.

"I hope the crowds will spur us on in the week."

The 31-year-old from Sheffield is expected to face Egyptian rival Ramy Ashour in the final. It was the 23-year-old from Cairo that Matthew succeeded as world No1 in January after two successive victories in 2010.

But Ashour, the world No2 had the upper hand in last month's Australian Open final - and, more painfully, later in the month in the final of the World Team Championship in Germany where Egypt went on to take the title.

"It always hurts to lose, especially for England at the world teams," Matthew recalled. "I felt the pain of the boys and I felt as world number one I could have led from the front and got them off to the perfect start - so I was very disappointed there.

"But in terms of the losses to Ramy, I have been away and have done my homework with my coach and trainer and we have looked at what I need to improve on - not only for Ramy but for my game in general.

"It's exciting that there's still a lot to improve after all these years and the successes along the way," admitted the first Englishman to top the world rankings for six years.

But, after being overwhelmed by the vociferous German crowds attracted by last month's World Team Championship in Paderborn, Matthew made a plea to the spectators planning to attend the ROWE British Grand Prix.

"What we notice on tour is how the Egyptians always get cheered to the rafters in the Middle East, which makes them play better - whereas in the UK the crowd reaction is more polite for both players," explained the Yorkshireman.

"Now I'm not criticising the British crowds, as they are by far the most knowledgeable and respectful in the world - but for the sport to move forward in this country and gain more exposure we really need to be creating an atmosphere like the one we saw in Germany at the world teams.

"It's up to the promoters and players to encourage this as well."

Matthew begins his 2011 ROWE British Grand Prix campaign against German wild card Jens Schoor. The top seed will want to make up for the disappointment of being forced to withdraw from last year's championship after being taken ill on the eve of the event.

The qualification rounds will be held at Wolverhampton Lawn Tennis & Squash Club on Friday 16th and Saturday 17th September. Matches start at 12:00 noon on the Friday and at 5:30 pm on the Saturday. Entry is free for all spectators.