Allam British Open 2012: Nick Matthew seals hat-trick in London

Nick Matthew becomes the first Englishman in the British Open's 82-year history to win the title for a third time at London's O2 Arena on Sunday

By Oliver Porritt

World champion Nick Matthew became the first Englishman to win the historic British Open three times with a display of faultless squash to deny Ramy Ashour at London’s O2 Arena on Sunday.

The third seed from Yorkshire beat the former world number one 11-9, 11-4, 11-8 to retain his crown in just 49 minutes and end a run of four consecutive defeats by the wizard from Cairo.

Ashour led in the first game but his attacking ambitions were blunted as Matthew forced the fourth seed to play much of the match from the back of the court and the Egyptian’s error count spiralled out of control.

Matthew, 31, won the last edition of the British Open in 2009, before the event had an enforced two-year break due to a lack of sponsorship, and he was delighted to win again in front of a home crowd but denied he came into the match with a particular strategy.

“You can never have a plan against Ramy because he’s such a magician and off-the-cuff player,” he said.

“I say that he’s a genius and I say that from being on the end of a few defeats from him. You see the fine margin of the shots he plays but today it was just my day.

“He made a few errors but if those shots had just been a millimetre higher then he might have got the edge and got his confidence going so that shows how fine the margins are.

“No matter how much you plan you never know what’s going to happen, especially against Ramy.

“He’s beaten me the last five times we’ve played so I knew for my belief that I needed the first game under my belt, it was crucial and I felt that I was then going to settle into my rhythm.

“He blew me away in the first game the last time we played and it was just my lucky day.”

After ceding an 8-6 lead in the first game Ashour was unable to impose himself on Matthew who worked hard to take the front of the court away from the Egyptian.

In the second Matthew won nine consecutive points to win from 4-2 down, using the height of the front wall to stifle Ashour’s desire to attack.

Matthew’s containing game saw Ashour hit 14 tins in total and England’s number two finished the third game in style following a brief comeback from the young Egyptian.

At 10-8 up, Matthew trapped Ashour behind him and played a nerveless forehand drop into the nick to seal a momentous win.

Matthew’s win came in front of Pakistan’s Jahangir Khan, the Emeritus President of the World Squash Federation, who won a record-breaking ten consecutive British Open titles between 1982 and 1991.

And the world number two from Sheffield said his win was quickly put in perspective by his manager straight after the match.

“He just jokingly said Jahangir is on the front row there, so I’ve only got another seven to go,” added Matthew.

“I’ll be 39 if I manage to do that so I don’t think there’s any chance of that.

“I don’t know how many more of these major finals let alone British Open finals I’ll be able to get to so who knows.

“I still feel good but Ramy’s going to have a lot more days than I am.”

As part of the deal with title sponsor Dr Assem Allam, Hull City’s chairman, the British Open will move to Hull for the next two years and Matthew is looking for title number four.

“It’s in my home territory next year so if Ramy and the other guys think that London was the England players’ territory then wait until they come to Hull,” Matthew said.

Ashour, 24, was quick to congratulate his victor but was encouraged by his performances this week.

“Nick was really in the zone and was several steps ahead of me today in every department. I can’t be too downhearted because I have played well this week and am proud of what I did,” Ashour said.

“There is a thin margin between success and failure at the top level and a lot of shots did not work for me today.

“I have been struggling a lot with injuries in the past year but I love this game and I consider squash one of God’s gifts.

“In the third game I did not want to give up and tried to get a grip on myself. The British Open is one of the most important titles in the world and although it was a painful lesson today you need to learn from your defeats.

“I am so glad that the British Open is back and stronger than ever.”


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