Jubilant Nick lauds backing

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WORLD No 1 and top seed Nick Matthew last night paid tribute to his support network after defending his world title in Rotterdam.

In front of a packed crowd at the Luxor Theatre, the Sheffield ace recovered from a game down to beat Frenchman Gregory Gaultier 6/11, 11/9, 11/6, 11/5 in the World Open final.

Matthew, who defeated Egypt’s Karim Darwish in straight games in the semi-finals on Saturday, raised his arms in triumph at the end after retaining the trophy and said: “When I won today, it was pure joy, and pure relief.

“I would like to thank my mum and dad who are here, with my manager Paul Walters, coach David Pearson, my girlfriend, physio Phil, and at home Jade, Rob and Stafford.

“I think to have two (world crowns) stands apart and I can hold my head up high the rest of my career now.”

In a gruelling 92-minute battle, Gaultier, playing in his third final, edged the first game before Matthew gradually took charge of the contest.

“I don’t think I did one thing particularly to grind Greg down, it was more a combination of several factors. First, I tried not to panic in the first game, like I did in the quarters against Peter,” said Matthew.

“I knew that I was not playing badly, not doing anything wrong in particular, but that he was just playing better than me. I stuck in, stuck in, stuck in, and just started to attack a little bit. I got a finger in the door, and then my body through, and saw a chink of light and went for it.”

Sixth seed Gaultier said: “I’m very disappointed but I will get to win this tournament.”