SHEFFIELD’S Nick Matthew believes the US Open has the potential to become one of the sports’s biggest annual events.
The world No 2 opens his bid to win the event for a second time when he faces rising Egyptian star Omar Mosaad in Philadelphia on Sunday night.
The 32-year-old is on course to meet fellow Yorkshireman and world No 1 James Willstrop in Friday’s final, but faces plenty of pitfalls along the way, not least against his first round opponent, currently ranked 10 in the world.
“Playing against Omar in the first round is such a tough draw,” said Matthew. “He’s is young and improving with no fear and a rocket of a forehand. I’m going to have to be really wary of him.”
Should Matthew progress, he is likely to face fellow Englishman Adrian Grant when a quarter-final against defending champion Amr Shabana is likely to be at stake.
Willstrop, who lost to Matthew in last month’s British Grand Prix final, begins on Saturday night against former England team-mate Alister Walker, the former Chapel Allerton PSL player, who now represents his native Botswana.
Both Yorkshiremen enjoy playing in the US, with Matthew – winner in 2007 – pleased to see squash enjoying something of a boom at the moment.
“The US Open has a goal of being the biggest tournament in the world, and I believe it’s well on the way to achieving that,” added Matthew, who has just launched his own squash academy in Sheffield.
“All the Philadelphia squash community is coming out to promote the event and the number of kids that are playing the sport, particularly on the east coast, is remarkable.
“The sport is undergoing a real boom time out here.”
After a longer than usual summer break – Matthew chose not to contest the Australian Open this year – the former world No 1 was delighted to begin the new PSA World Tour season in triumphant style in Manchester, extending his winning run over Willstrop in Tour events to 15 matches.
“I was over the moon to win my first event of the season,” added Matthew. “You never know how good your form is going to be after such a long summer break so i was delighted it went so well. I was also excited that there are still plenty of things for me to work on.”