World No 1 clinches British title after ‘brutal’ battle

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NICK Matthew could not hide his delight at beating Yorkshire rival James Willstrop in the men’s final of the British National Championships last night.

The World No 1 extended his head-to-head record over Leeds-based Willstrop to 32-9 by chalking up an impressive 11/8, 11/3, 8/11, 14/12 victory in Manchester.

Matthew, who defeated Daryl Selby in the semi-finals in straight games on Saturday, has now beaten Willstrop in the last 19 meetings. The double Commonwealth gold winning medallist, from Sheffield, lifted the trophy after 81 minutes of gruelling squash against his old adversary.

The 31-year-old said: “I played the best squash of my career for the first two and a half games, but for all his racket skills James is also one of the most determined opponents I’ve ever played, it was just brutal. We may be great rivals but we have a good deal of respect for each other.

“It was one of the biggest disappointments of my career – losing the title last year [to Selby], so it means a lot to me to win it for a record-equalling fourth time.”

Willstrop, the top seed of the event, said: “I’m not worried about what happened score-wise. I was disappointed not to win, but not disappointed in my performance.”

Earlier in the day, in the women’s final, defending champion Laura Massaro saw off Alison Waters 11/2, 11/9, 8/11, 11/4.

Massaro said: “The national title is huge for all British players – there are some big names on that trophy. To be able to win it last year was special, so do it again is fantastic.”