Squash: Matthew wary of British Open upset

Nick Matthew with British Open trophy 2012
Nick Matthew with British Open trophy 2012
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World number two Nick Matthew is desperate to avoid becoming a shock first-round casualty at the Allam British Open.

Sheffield star Matthew will be expected to see off fellow Englishman Joe Lee when he gets his campaign underway at 8pm at The Sports Arena, in Hull, tonight.

But the top seed is refusing to underestimate the threat Lee will pose as he chases his fourth British Open title.

Matthew told The Star: “Joe [Lee] has been in the England senior squad for the last two to three years. He’s a really strong, fit guy and is improving all the time.

“He reminds me of myself when I was younger and striving really hard for that big breakthrough. I just hope I’m not the person to give it him because he’s certainly a capable player.

“He hasn’t had to come through qualifying either because he’s been given a wildcard by England Squash. Joe is a young, hungry player and will be fresh for this game. He’s got nothing to lose so it’s not going to be easy.”

Three-time world champion Matthew is eager to make amends, having lost to Frenchman Gregory Gaultier, who is top of the rankings, in the semi-finals of the tournament last year.

“The British Open is the Wimbledon of squash,” he said. “It’s an event we all value alongside the World Championship.

“I’ve tried to tailor my training, rest and preparations for the Open and the Commonwealth Games this summer.

“It would be a massive moment in my career if I were to win it in Yorkshire. I learned a lesson last year when I lost to Greg [Gaultier] as I almost wanted it too much with all my friends and family there.

“But I believe that I am a far better player now than I was a year ago. I feel I have improved mentally a lot. When I was beaten in the last four in 2013, Greg got on top of me mentally and I didn’t have anywhere to go. I didn’t have a ‘plan b’.

“Now I feel like I am using my experience more. My psychologist has been on at me to use my brains and not my brawn. That advice finally seems to be sinking in!”