Squash: World title assault tops Matthew’s priority list

England's Nick Matthew in action against Zahed Mohamed, during the AJ Bell World Squash Championships at the National Squash Centre.
England's Nick Matthew in action against Zahed Mohamed, during the AJ Bell World Squash Championships at the National Squash Centre.
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Sheffield star Nick Matthew insists he could not care less about reclaiming the world number one status.

Mercurial Egyptian Ramy Ashour currently occupies top spot, having won 50 matches in a row, while Frenchman Gregory Gaultier is second in the rankings.

Matthew cruised into the second round of the World Championships, which are being staged in Manchester this week, after defeating Ashour’s fellow countryman Zahed Mohamed in less than 40 minutes yesterday.

“I am not too worried about the rankings,” Matthew, a two-time world champion, told The Star. “I am trying to look at my performance and make sure I peak well for the tournaments I want to do well in such as the worlds and the Commonwealth Games. The rankings will then take care of itself.

“Ramy [Ashour] has got a substantial lead and I am not too worried about getting back to the top. I have been there before and if I had to have a choice between winning another world title or becoming World No 1 again, I would take being world champion every day of the week.”

Matthew faces Hong Kong’s Max Lee at 1.00pm today. Following his commanding victory over Mohamed, the 33-year-old claims he is in the best shape of his career.

“I have got nothing to prove to anyone,” he insisted. “Last year, I didn’t play my best squash and that got me down.

“All I want to do is perform at my best, express everything I have got and try to impose my game. I want to leave it all out out court and if I’m not got enough on the day then I can live with that.

“I have achieved everything in the game. That’s a good position to be in. I want to enjoy my squash, express myself and earn the right to play. I am confident that the results will come on the back of that.”

World No 4 Matthew, beaten in the US Open final by Gaultier earlier this month, added: “Hunger and enjoyment are the most important things to me. I lost that a bit last year through over playing and having too many distractions so I’ve cut down on those things.

“I am concentrating on playing and I am realising I can worry about other things when I am retired.”