Three-time world champion Nick Matthew has regained squash’s number one ranking after claiming the Hong Kong Open for the first time in his glittering career.
The Sheffield star beat seventh-seeded Borja Golan 11-1, 11-8, 5-11, 11-5 in the final of the tournament yesterday to cap off a remarkable year.
Matthew, the fourth seed, outlasted mercurial Frenchman Gregory Gaultier in the semi-finals of the Open, edging an epic 87-minute clash 11-13, 11-4, 11-4, 8-11, 11-3. It was a repeat of last month’s PSA World Championship final in Manchester which Matthew also won to secure his third world crown.
Victory over Golan means Matthew, who has not been included in the 2013 BBC Sports Personality of the Year shortlist, which takes place on Sunday, will now top the world rankings in January. If Gaultier had beaten Matthew in the last four, he would have pipped the 33-year-old to top spot.
“I knew my body would hold up even though it was a very tough match against Greg yesterday so it was a mental challenge again really,” said Matthew, who last reached the Open final back in 2004.
“It was always going to be hard to keep up the level of that first game as Borja is strong and very determined.”
Matthew added: “You’ll take any win in a final but I was pleased with how I played. I really thought I was going to go grey before I managed to win here; I’ve been coming since 2001 and I’d never got to play on the harbour before so this is really special for me. I’m delighted.”