No rest for Matthew and Willstrop in Virginia

Nick Matthew. Picture courtesy of squashpics.com
Nick Matthew. Picture courtesy of squashpics.com
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WORLD No 1 Nick Matthew is anticipating a “fast and furious” few days as he attempts to capture the World Series Finals title in Virginia.

One of the most prestigious events on the PSA World Tour, the tournament is unique in that it brings together the top eight players in the PSA World Series to compete over a hectic five days. Employing a shorter, best-of-three game format, players are split into two round robin groups with the top two in each going through to the semi-finals.

Sheffield’s Matthew is in Group A along with Gregory Gaultier, Borja Golan and Simon Rosner, while fellow Yorkshireman James Willstrop is in Group B with Egyptian trio Ramy Ashour, Mohamed Elshorbagy and Tarek Momen.

“I love that you get a second chance if you lose a match,” said Matthew, who opens his bid today in Richmond against Germany’s Rosner.

“Last year I lost the first one though so I was up against it from the word go and did well to make the final in the end.

“I’m hoping for a better start this time. Also it’s best-of-three until the final which makes for some fast and furious squash.”

After facing Rosner, Matthew will face Gaultier – who he shared the No 1 ranking with during February – before finishing the group phase against Spain’s Golan.

Willstrop begins his bid for glory against Momen on Saturday before taking on Ashour and, on Monday, Elshorbagy.

Previously, the event has been held at London’s Queens Club but is being hosted in the US for the first time, a move Matthew fully backs.

“It’s in a familiar venue in Richmond because we’ve been coming here for the North American Open for the past few years,” added Matthew.

“The game is growing very fast in the US - everywhere I go here people are talking about building new courts or new facilities which is amazing.

“Only the other day I was hearing about a new complex down the road in Charlottesville where they had the US Nationals last week and there are plans for a new one in Savannah, so it is brilliant news for the growth of squash over in the States.”

Although Matthew was hampered slightly by a back injury in the recent Windy City Open when he lost to Ashour in the semi-final, he has declared himself fit to contest the latest tour event.

“It was more a compensatory problem than a bad injury, I hope,” he said. ”It feels good now and hopefully won’t give me any problems this week.”