Sheffield’s Nick Matthew faces hardest hitter in squash in world championships

Nick Matthew
Nick Matthew
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The hardest hitter in the sport awaits Nick Matthew in the first round of the World Championship’s today.

Australian ameron Pilley takes on the Sheffielder in Bellevue, Washington looking to upset the odds.

Pilley holds the world record for the hardest squash ball ever hit at 177mph but Matthew, the second seed, is the firm favourite to prevail. Nonetheless, Matthew is wary of the threat the 33-year-old will pose.

Second seed Matthew told The Star: “I couldn’t have got a tougher draw.

“Cameron [Pilley] is a very, very dangerous player. He is the world’s hardest hitter so there is always that element of where you feel like you are reacting to him and being put on the back foot.

“I have lost to Cameron a couple of times so he is one of those players who can really up his level.

“I know I have to hit the ground running from the word go. There’s no easing into it but that can be a blessing in disguise.”

Should the draw go according to the seedings, Matthew, aged 35, will face reigning champion Ramy Ashour in the semi-finals.

“I have already got three world titles so that’s never ever going to change regardless of what happens this week,” stressed Matthew. “That might sound a bit facetious but I need to go in with that attitude and not put pressure on myself.

“Anything is a bonus now.”

Matthew says he has fully recovered from the abdominal injury which forced him to pull out of the Qatar Classic three weeks ago.

He said: “My preparations have been good. I had a little bit of a niggle which was hanging over me but hopefully I’ve got to the bottom of that now.

“It has been great mentally to be at home and recharge my batteries. I have had time at home so it has been the equivalent of plugging myself into the mains.

“I started the season like a mobile phone that had not been fully charged. I was not fully fit and trying to charge myself up.

“But I feel ready now and know what it takes to do well in this event.”

World number one Mohamed Elshorbagy is refusing to underestimate Matthew, saying: “Nick has been dealing with injuries since we played in El Gouna earlier this year but everyone knows that even at 60 per cent he’s still the strongest player mentally and he will be giving everything to win that title. He can never be discounted.”