NICK MATTHEW’S hopes of a fourth world title were ended yesterday, when he crashed out in the semi-finals to world No 1 Mohamed Elshorbagy.
The 34-year-old defending champion, from Sheffield, was on court for an hour but could not get the better of his Egyptian opponent, eventually going down 11-9, 11-5, 11-8.
Ahead of the tournament in Doha, a war of words had broken out between the pair after Elshorbagy, 11years Matthew’s junior, claimed his title rival was ‘past his peak’. Matthew hit back by stating that Elshorbagy has only been world No 1 for ‘five minutes’.
Not surprisingly it was a fiercely contested match, Matthew letting good leads slip in both the first and third games, while acknowledging he was never in the middle game.
Although he remained baffled by a contentious decision at a crucial point in the opening game, Matthew admitted he was second-best overall on the night.
“The first game was very close, second game, I was totally outplayed, but first and third – I was disappointed how quickly I lost those points when I had the lead,” said Matthew afterwards.
“You know, when you’ve got the talk, you’ve got to back it up. And he certainly did that tonight. He was on a roll. I tried to take him off that roll, but I just couldn’t.
“I lost out to the better player tonight. I’m obviously disappointed to lose the title of world champion but proud that I’m still in contention for the world title at 34-years-old when I’m past my peak.”
Elshorbagy will now face compatriot Ramy Ashour, who dispatched of Gregory Gaultier by the same margin in the other semi-final.
“We were both really fired up for the match” said Elshorbagy after his win. “ There was a lot of talk and mind games beforehand, but there’s a big respect there between us as well.
“But on court it’s a war and we both want to win. But once it’s done, it’s finished. Tomorrow, I’m sure we’ll joke with each other and forget about all the talk beforehand.
“Nick is an inspirational player and I have learnt a lot from him during my career so far.”