Canary Wharf Squash Classic: Nick Matthew eases into second round
Reigning champion Nick Matthe beats Eddie Charlton in three games to progress in Canary Wharf Squash Classic
Nick Matthew is in fine fettle as he looks retain his Canary Wharf title, having dispatched wildcard Eddie Charlton in just 37 minutes, 11-4, 11-5, 11-7.
‘The Wolf’ produced a typically commanding display of attacking squash, controlling the T and looking to pounce on any loose ball with his renowned volleying.
In the first game, the tournament’s top seed produced nine winners to just one error – and that ratio slipped only slightly in the following two games. Luck was also on his side as two shots he scraped off the wall dropped just in and bounced awkwardly.
So generally faultless was his performance, that on the few occasions he did make a mistake there was an audible gasp from the crowd, and one shout of “human!” as if to say well, if he is human after all.
Matthew said: “It was important for me to get a good start in each of the three games. He reminded me of that as he started the first game so well.
“I thought he might be a little bit nervous – you know, big stage first round. It’s unbelievable to have it packed out, sold out, right from the first round so thanks for that.
“I just knew if I could get a lead it can be a bit of a goldfish bowl in here with the crowd so close to the court and he’s got a lot of support, sometimes that can put a bit of pressure on yourself.
“So, delighted with how I started, then I was able to express myself as the games went on.”
Matthew, 34, also spoke about some barbed comments which came his way recently from Mohamed Elshorbagy, the World Number 1 he beat in the final of the Windy City Open in Chicago earlier this month.
“It’s all good fun,” Matthew said. “He said I was over the hill so I just tried to prove him wrong one or two more times. It was enjoyable for a few days but you just have to refocus and get back on it.
“You’re not over the hill until you retire. You step on the court, you’re always fit no matter what age you are. We all train really hard behind the scenes so there’s no reason why you can’t play on into your 30s.”
And there was a nice moment as Matthew was joined on court by Paul Dowdall, or “Norm” to friends, a man who was in the crowd for Nick Matthew’s first round match in 2012 when Alan Thatcher, the tournament organiser and MC, interrupted a rally to announce that Mr Dowdall should go to hospital immediately for a long-awaited kidney transplant (he had turned his phone off for the match).
Daryl Selby survived a scare in his all-England tie against up-and-coming Joe Lee, who came through his two qualifying matches without dropping a game.
The Essex player took the first game comfortably, 11-5, and then took a 6-3 lead in the second on the back of some very energetic squash.
But then Lee fought back to make it 10-7 as he found some great length, especially on the backhand side, and Selby’s drop shots, so reliable in the first game, faltered a little.
It took facing gameball for Selby to produce some of his best squash again, and, helped by some nervous errors from Lee, Selby saved three gameballs to take it to the tie-break then another four before eventually taking the game 17-15 in 28 minutes.
At 2-0 down, having just lost such a marathon game and squandered several gameballs against a more experienced, higher-ranked player, you might expect Lee to fade a little. Not so.
He recovered with some fantastic squash to take a 10-3 lead, before – finally – taking the game 11-9 with his seventh gameball, and fourteenth of the match.
However, Selby showed his experience to take the fourth 11-7. After a gruelling 77 minutes, he will be glad of the rest day before Wednesday’s quarter-finals.
He said: “I had to dig in during the second game, and to be fair to him he responded well in the third and really deserved that game, but I was happy with how I played in the court to see out the match and it was great to play in front of a full house and a strong home crowd.”
Number 3 seed Borja Golan also had a tough first-round game, winning 11-7, 11-4, 10-12, 11-7 in 64 minutes against Duthcman Laurens Jan Anjema, who is quickly getting back to form after a foot injury.
When asked what words of encouragement he would give his opponent after injury troubles, Golan said: “I try not to give too many he will beat next time easily!
“He played really well. It’s amazing – last month he was playing in Chicago, the first tournament after four months out.
“Of course your level drops a bit, but today only three weeks after he improved so much. So I think in a few months we’ll have the best LJ, probably better than the one before.”
And in the other first-round match yesterday, Egyptian Fares Dessouki showed his class to beat Enfield player Adrian Waller 11-3, 11-4, 11-5.