SHEFFIELD’S Nick Matthew warmed up for the British National Championships in the best possible way by clinching a fourth Swedish Open title.
The 33-year-old Yorkshireman – currently joint world No 1 with France’s Gregory Gaultier – begins his bid for a remarkable sixth British Nationals title in Manchester on Wednesday when he faces an as yet unknwon qualifier.
But his victory yesterday in Linkoping came against a more familiar face, former world No 1 Ramy Ashour, with Matthew prevailing after a gruelling 90 minutes of squash in a 11-13, 11-6, 11-8. 6-11, 11-4 victory.
The result means he will regain sole occupancy of the world No 1 spot when February’s world PSA rankings come out.
Ashour was returning from injury to play his first competitive squash since the World Championships in Manchester last October.
At one point during his duel with Matthew, it was feared he may have to withdraw through injury before he rallied to take the match into a fifth game, where Matthew – who had beaten Gaultier in the semi-finals on Saturday – won out.
“I just need to rely on that combination of mental and physical ability,” said a delighted Matthew afterwards.
“When Ramy first started to feel pain his leg during the third game I went to wild cookie land for a while. But I’m glad he was able to come back and keep the match going.
“I’m proud to be Swedish Open Champion. It was one of the toughest matches I ever played and it tested everything – physical, mental, technical and tactical.”
Ashour added: “I was really pleased with my performance. I am just glad to get to the final and give it 100 per cent.
“I was happy to finish the tournament without coming out disappointed. Nick was very consistent and he’s in top form right now.”