Day 3. Round of 16. Nick Matthew

Andy Taylor. Squash Announcer. Qatar Classic Squash Championship. Day 3. Round of 16. Nick Matthew

Squash Announcer. Andy Taylor. Qatar Classic 2017

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[4] Nick Matthew (ENG) def Mathieu Castagnet (FRA) 13-11 11-9 11-3 (47-min)

At 37-years-old, this is Nick Matthew’s final season on tour. A two-time Finalist in Doha, he captured the Qatar Classic title in 2009 with a 3-game win over Karim Darwish. In 2013, he fell in five to Mohamed Elshorbagy. Yesterday, he squandered a two game lead over Raphael Kandra, before “winning ugly” (his words) in the decider.

31-year-old Mathieu Castagnet has been dealing with a recurring calf injury for over a year. Just last month, in his debut event of the new season, he retired from his Quarterfinal match in Nantes, then fell to Mohamed Abouelghar in the opening round of the US Open. Over the past year, he’s dropped from the top-10 to World #32. With Ramy Ashour’s withdrawal from the Qatar Classic, Mathieu was spared from Doha qualifying. Yesterday, on fresher legs, he needed 66-minutes to take-down World #25 Alan Clyne – who had already battled through two rounds of qualifying.

Frustrating Injury for the French Musketeer

Mathieu spent the entire 2015-16 season ranked inside the top-10, and reached a career-high ranking of #6 in the World. He’s an extremely aggressive player, often seen flying prone across the glass court, reaching for shots seemingly out of reach. When he injured his calf at the 2016 US Open, results began to slide, as did his ranking. Still, he’s one of the most exciting draws on the PSA World Tour because of his all-or-nothing style of play.

The Wolf’s Final Season

The man is a living squash legend; one of the most consistent and accomplished talents ever to grace the glass court. He’s a 3-time PSA World Champion, a 3-time Commonwealth Games Gold Medalist, owns 35 PSA Tour titles, and has reached a remarkable 75 career Finals. He’s held the World #1 ranking for a combined 19-months, and since June of 2010, has been ranked inside the top-5 for an astounding 8-years and 4-months. Last February, he won his 6th consecutive and 9th British National Championship; and 11-years-ago, became the first Englishman to win the British Open in 67-years. He’s appeared in the Finals of PSA World Series events 36-times, and owns 15 PSA World Series titles. In his 13th and final Qatar Classic Squash Championship, he’s determined to leave it all on the court for fans in Doha.

Matthew back to defeating opponents, instead of himself

Nick wasn’t too happy with himself after yesterday’s 1st-Round win over Kandra. The Wolf opened the door for the German, giving up games 3 and 4, and nearly losing the decider. After the win, Nick said: I was hitting hard and running with him which was silly because he’s much younger, but finally at the end I started to use my brain and my experience which shows you it’s never too late, even 8-8 in the 5th!

Mr. Matthew’s brain was firing on all cylinders today. He and Castagnet fought tooth and nail through 10-all. After another excruciating rally, Nick hit the tin, giving Mathieu his second (and last) game ball of the match. Rather than beat himself up – like he’d done often again Kandra – Nick kept steady. He pulled from experience, trusted his talent, got creative with the sidewall, and three points later stole the game 13-11. The Wolf was back.

Down again in the second, 5-9 – Nick strung together six dominant points to take a 2-game lead. The match was all but over. Matthew’s growing confidence was matched only by Castagnet’s waning belief. The third was an after-thought, as the 3-time World Champion steamrolled the French Musketeer 11-3.