Matthew denied third title by supreme Ashour

SHEFFIELD’S Nick Matthew was forced to concede his best wasn’t quite good enough to seal a third North American Open title after he lost out to world No 1 Ramy Ashour in Virginia on Saturday night.

The Egyptian saw off the Yorkshireman 11-7, 11-8, 5-11, 11-7 at Richmond’s Westwood Club, repeating the outcome of the 2009 final as well as avenging defeats to the world No 2 in the subsequent two finals.

It also marked his 31st consecutive victory in his ninth PSA Tour final in a row and the eighth time he has got the better of the 32-year-old world No 2 in their last nine meetings.

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Matthew vowed to bounce back quickly with the Kuwait Cup only days away ahead of the Canary Wharf Classic in London from March 16.

“I have played well all week and didn’t really do anything wrong in the final,” said Matthew.

“But it shows how well Ramy is playing that you can be playing your best and he can still win these big matches. He is on a long winning run at the moment and playing some great squash.”

It was a strong start from Ashour that helped determined the outcome of another hard-fought encounter between the world’s top two players.

In the opening game, Matthew hit back from 5-3 down to lead 7-6, but Ashour then produced an array of winning shots to take four points in a row to eventually strike the first blow.

It was a similar story in the second, only for Matthew to hit back with some sublime play of his own in the third to halve the deficit. But Ashour resumed control in the fourth to see the match out.

“Nick is a great player and we seem to feed off this rivalry,” said Ashour afterwards.

“We have met in so many finals and, whoever wins, the other one gets back to work to raise their game to meet the challenge.

“We are both inspiring each other to work even harder. He plays great squash in all four corners of the court and you have to be playing your best squash to beat him.”