Nick Matthew, Sheffield’s world No 1, got his campaign underway at the World Team Championship in Paderborn, Germany, yesterday after being handed a day off during England’s opening group stage win against Spain.
England, the No 1 seeds, cruised to an impressive 3/0 win after victories for fellow Yorkshireman James Willstrop, and Essex pair Peter Barker and Daryl Selby. The favourites will now play hosts Germany today on the impressive glass court which houses 1,000 spectators.
And Matthew will be back playing first string against Germany’s Simon Rosner after he was allowed an extra day to recover following his late return from the Australian Open in Canberra where he finished runner-up to Egypt’s Ramy Ashour.
“I only got back on Tuesday afternoon so I needed an extra day but you also want a game under your belt,” admitted the 31-year-old.
“Rather than both James and I play No 1’s, it means that James and I can share the workload. It shows the strength of our squad that we can do that luckily. It will be a sell out against Germany and we are all looking forward to it.”
Willstrop, the world No 4 from Leeds, had a real battle with Borja Golan in the top string battle. The Spaniard could easily have saved himself with Golan set to play seven matches in as many days this week and nearly took the Yorkshireman the full distance.
And with England pushed to the outside courts, Willstrop was forced to play against a wily opponent and mounting court humidity. The match had to be stopped on numerous occasions as the walls and floors were wiped.
Willstrop said : “It wasn’t a great feeling today. I get aggravated with little things and make life difficult for myself.
“It was an unsatisfactory start. It was scrappy and not a great spectacle but he played really well and I’m just glad to have come through that.”
Following the Germany match, England play Ireland on Tuesday before the knock-out stages. The final, which England are seeded to play Egypt, takes place on Saturday.