Sheffield’s Nick Matthew saw his glittering 20-year career ended after the 37-year-old three-time world champion lost out to world No 2 Ali Farag in straight games in the semi-finals of the World Series Finals.
Matthew looked to have played the last match of his career after defeat to Germany’s Raphael Kandra at last month’s Allam British Open but a hamstring injury to Marwan ElShorbagy saw the Yorkshireman receive a late call-up to Dubai as he put his retirement on hold for another week.
And Matthew had been enjoying something of a resurgence after three wins out of three in the group stages but Farag, 11 years Matthew’s junior, had too much for the tenacious Englishman.
Matthew, the most successful male English squash player of all time, bows out with 35 PSA World Tour titles – including three PSA World Championship crowns – to his name.
“I dared to dream for a second that I could go all the way but Ali was slightly too good tonight,” said Matthew. “Even a week ago, if you’d have offered me a semi-final place here I wouldn’t have believed it.
“A few people this week have been trying to talk me out of retirement but that’s not happening. I’m 100 per cent going to stay in squash, I’m going to have a rest this summer, I’ll have a lot of family time and regroup.
“I’m still going to play, I’m not going to totally stop, I’m too competitive.”
Farag will play World No.1 Mohamed ElShorbagy in the final after the defending champion came through a cracker of a semi-final encounter with Germany’s Simon Rösner in a repeat of their meeting at the same stage of last year’s event.
Rösner squandered match ball on that occasion against eventual winner ElShorbagy and, while he wasn’t able to quite get in a winning position again, he made life difficult for the reigning World Champion, but ultimately succumbed to a 12-10, 10-12, 11-3 defeat which sends ElShorbagy through to an 11th final of the season.
The top two players in the women’s game will go head-to-head in the final as Nour El Sherbini and Raneem El Welily claimed wins over France’s Camille Serme and World No.3 Nour El Tayeb.
A few people this week have been trying to talk me out of retirement but that’s not happening. I’m 100 per cent going to stay in squash, I’m going to have a rest this summer, I’ll have a lot of family time and regroup.Nick Matthew