Matthew too Fresh, too Mobile, too Strong in World Final
Dec 10, 2010, by Ron Beck © 2010 SquashTalk.com , Independent News; SquashTalk LLC
(updated 10-dec-10 13:46
Willstrop wins first game but can't capitalize... [COMPLETE DRAW & RESULTS]
RESULTS: Saudi PSA World Open, Al-Khobar, Saudi Arabia
 Nick Matthew (ENG) bt  James Willstrop (ENG) ) 8-11, 11-6 11-5 11-3
Nick Matthew and James Willstrop, competitors since forever, and intimately familar with each other's games, met again on the biggest-ever men's Squash stage, the 2010 World Open finals in Al Khobar on the sea coast of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
With the support of the ATCO group, and a number of other Saudi businesses, this event offered the largest ever squash purse.
While the Middle Eastern crowd, which earlier in the week had been swelled by large groups of Egptian and Pakistani partisans, must have been hugely disappointed by the surprising lack of at least one Egyptian star in today's finals, they had to be satisfied with this first-ever all-English final.
Sporting a completely different feel and style, than if an Egyptian had peopled the finals, instead this final showcased the best of Northern English squash, a more patient style than would have transpired with an Ashour, Darwish or Shabana on the stage.
The audience had to be satisfied with a few opening remarks from Hisham and Ramy Ashour while the players were warming up, and then it was on to this exhibition by these two familiar opponents, each near the top of his game.
Matthew had run through the 64-man draw without losing a game (!), but even in his opening remarks, and shown by his opening play, was suitably impressed and nervous at the importance of this event to him (with the opportunity for both a first World Open title, as well as a charge back to world #1).
Matthew was content early to keep things "tight" and fast, with a clear tactic to keep Willstrop moving and ultimately test his fitness.
Willstrop showed his willingness to play that game, and countered Matthew's every parry, favoring the backhand wall, and taken the few open opportunties provided. Which in due course provided James Willstrop with game one, an early 11-8 lead, and presenting Matthew with his first lost game of the tournament.
Which turned out to be Willstrop's final hurrah this evening in Al Khobar, as Matthew was content to ratchet up the pressure, continue his patient ball movement, and inexorably expose the difficult burden he imposed on Willstrop's large frame, with testing patterns of ball movement.
By the fourth game, Willstrop couldn't respond, and he faded away with a disappointingly easily conceded fourth game, 11-4.
For Matthew, it was an overall impressive performance, particular because of his route to the final which included a very strong win over a motivated Amr Shabana, parrying Shabana's every strategem in the semi finals en route to this impressive punctuation point in the finals.
Matthew, Willstrop and Shabana all now move on to the PSA Masters in India, as the ranks of the healthy top-tier competitors has thinned in this injury-filled event at Al Khobar.