Squash: Relieved Nick secures sixth National title

Nick Matthew lifts a record-breaking sixth British National title.
Nick Matthew lifts a record-breaking sixth British National title.
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Three-time world champion Nick Matthew admitted he was a relieved man after the Sheffield star became the first male player to win six British National Championships.

Matthew, the world number one, beat long-time rival James Willstrop 5-11, 12-10, 11-4, 11-8 after a gruelling 78-minute battle at the National Squash Centre in Manchester last night.

In a repeat of the last two finals, Willstrop, a two-time champion, took an early lead in front of a capacity crowd.

But Matthew, the top seed, edged the second game and took control of the contest.

“That’s got to be up there with one of my best ever wins against James [Willstrop],” said Matthew. “Some of his backhand drives were ridiculously tight, he was in such great form that at the moment it’s relief more than delight!”

The 33-year-old, who took his young niece onto court to help him collect the trophy, tweeted: “Has to go down as one of my proudest achievements. I was too tired celebreate at the end!”

He added: “I won’t be playing for much longer – you’re a long time retired which is why it means a lot to me, having all my family here and my support staff. I know I haven’t got many more times left on this stage so I really do appreciate everyone’s support.”

It was Matthew’s seventh national final in a row. He claimed a controversial win over Daryl Selby in the semi-finals of the tournament on Saturday, defeating his fellow Brit 8-11, 11-8, 11-6, 11-9.

One spectator jeered Matthew during his post-match interview following a match full of drama and contentious decisions.

“Decisions went against us both during the match, the refs have a tough job,” concluded Matthew.

“To the person that booed, I’d like to see how they would react under so much pressure on there. I think we were both taking our space, it’s nothing personal between us.”

In the women’s final, Alison Waters saw off Irish challenger Madeline Perry.