SquashTalk > News > English Open Squash 2005 > Men's finals

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Peter Nicol wins Going Away
Aug 21, 2005, Martin Bronstein at Sheffield, The Crucible.
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MATTHEW, AFTER A GREAT EVENT, FALLS SHORT

MARTIN BRONSTEIN REPORT ON THE MENS FINALS

Peter Nicol was totally focused in dominating Nick Matthew in straight games tonight. (photo © 2005 Fritz Borchert)

Peter Nicol won the World Games title without dropping a game and did the same here in Sheffield to finally win a tournament run by his own company Eventis.

After his straight games victory over local hero Nick Matthew in the final Nicol has shown that he is rapidly regaining the sort of form that kept him at the top for 60 months.

Nick Matthew 's error count increased as Nicol's defenses were ironclad. (photo © 2005 Fritz Borchert)

Matthew did extremely well to get to the final, playing the best squash of his career, but he had three very hard matches while Nicol was rarely kept on court for more than 40 minutes in overcoming his three opponents. The difference in exertion showed up in Matthew’s performance which did not match the razor-sharp squash that had brought him to the final. There were two signs in particular that indicated that Matthew was not in the same frame of mind. Firstly his less-than polite debates with the referee – which had been absent all week – had returned, and secondly, he was making soft errors, a sure indicating that fatigue was telling his body to do things that he knew in his head he should not be doing.

Not that he played badly: he simply did not play well enough for long enough while Nicol started in top gear and stayed in top gear to the final point. He was almost faultless: I kept a precise count of his unforced errors and the final figures are three, one in each game. For Matthew, the errors increased as the match progressed.

The first game gave very little indication of the final outcome. They both played tight hard squash, mixing length, lobs and volley drops in equal measure. In fact Matthew led 8-6 before Nicol hit a perfect backhand volley to length to get to 7-8. On the next point Matthew argued that he had tripped over Nicol’s foot on the way to the shot, but the referee did not agree and it was 8-all. Matthew then hit two crucial errors, the second a grandiose overhead backhand drop which hit the tin, the sort of shot you should not attempt with your opponent leading 9-8. The final rally ended in a stroke for Nicol and he had the first game 11-8 in 20 minutes.

Nicol wins the English Open on his third try. (photo © 2005 Fritz Borchert)

It was the sort of first game that sorts out the boys from the men, but Matthew still seemed game, coming back from 5-8 to 8-all . Nicol then ended one of the best rallies of the match, the sort that can only be appreciated on a slow motion replay, with a forehand chopped drop to take the lead. And then history repeated itself as Matthew committed two errors at this crucial point of the game which gave Nicol his second game 11-9.

In the third Matthew’s errors became more frequent as fatigue - and the realization that Nicol is a step up from the normal run of players - gnawed at his resolve. The game was over in 10 minutes 11-3 in Nicol’s favour.

The outcome was a little anticlimactic given Matthew’s marvelous performances in previous rounds, but a valuable preview of the season to come showing that ‘old man’ Nicol (he’s 32) is far from finished and will be a major factor in the upcoming season. He is back training hard and these tournaments are part of his build up to the world team championships in Pakistan in December and the Commonwealth Games next year in Australia. He said after the final that his desire is back and after two years in which he took things easy he is eager to give his competitive nature all the tools it needs

Final result
Peter Nicol (ENG) bt Nick Matthew (ENG) 11-8, 11-9, 11-3 (52 mins)






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