NICK MATTHEW produced a stunning comeback to reach the final of the British Open - then thanked home backing for helping him get there.
The 34-year-old Yorkshireman was heading for an exit at the hands of the Egyptian world No 3 Mohamed Elshorbagy when 2-1 down in Saturday’s opening semi-final of the men’s draw at The Sports Arena in Hull.
But at the end of a stunning 104 minutes squash, it was world champion Matthew who was celebrating reaching Sunday’s finale and the chance to win a fourth title after prevailing 4-11, 14-12, 3-11, 11-7, 11-8
“The pace throughout the match today was relentless and I felt like I was running on fumes at the end,” said world No 2 and top seed Matthew.
“It was a bit of a blur and I’m really lucky to get it in the end. Mohamed is one hell of a player but I’m pleased with how I used my experience when I was 2-1 down to get the win. The crowd were amazing throughout the match today and they were really supportive.
“The topsy turvy week I’ve had was summed up by this match. As good as he is, I’ve got more experience in those situations. I’ve recovered from matches like this for finals like this before, and I’ve got a good physio here who can help me.
“In terms of mental effort, it was up there from me. There are different ways to win and you have to find that way sometimes.”
Sunday’s final will be a repeat of the World Championship final last November in Manchester, after France’s Gregory Gaultier booked his place after ousting defending champion Ramy Ashour 11-7, 12-10, 3-11, 11-7. It was Gaultier who Ashour beat last year after the Frenchman had knocked out Matthew in the semi-final at the KC Stadium.
It was Matthew who prevailed at the National Squash Centre last year to claim his third world title, as he subsequently did against the current world No 1 in the Hong Kong Open and the Swedish Open.
But Gaultier, a British Open winner in 2007, did get the better of Matthew in the group stages of the World Series Finals in the USA recently to give him the belief he can overcome the home favourite and the understandable backing he will receive from the Yorkshire crowd.
“Nick is an unbelievable player and he’s had an amazing career,” said Gaultier.
“He has achieved so much but he is always still hungry and he has a real fighting spirit which he showed against Mohamed.
“He always tries to the last point, but I’m here to win and this tournament is one of my main targets for the season. Winning the title for a second time would be just as amazing as the first so I’ll give it everything.”