NICK MATTHEW hopes to make the most of his unexpected second chance to extend his playing career when he takes part in the season-ending World Series Finals in Dubai starting today.
The 37-year-old from Sheffield announced last summer that this season would be his last and believed he had brought the curtain down on his illustrious career with an earlier-than-hoped-for exit at the British Open in Hull last month to German qualifier Raphael Kandra.
It was not the way Matthew wanted to exit the big stage, his defeat and subsequent results later in the draw in East Yorkshire meaning he was edged out of finishing in the top eight PSA World Series rankings, which guarantee a place in the now traditional showpiece finale in the desert.
But world No 3 Marwan ElShorbagy was last week forced to withdraw from the prestigious event due to a hamstring injury meaning Matthew - ranked ninth in the listings - was the first in line to replace him at Emirates Golf Club.
Matthew replaces the Egyptian in Group A of the men’s tournament, which also contains Marwan’s older brother, World No.1 Mohamed and British Open champion Miguel Angel Rodriguez, while World No 4 Tarek Momen moves across to join them, switching places with three-time winner Gregory Gaultier, who moves into Group B to sit alongside World No2 Ali Farag, Tournament of Champions winner Simon Rösner and former World No 1 Karim Abdel Gawad.
The event features a round robin, best-of-three games group stage format and Matthew will get his tournament under way against Momen this evening.
If he gets through the group, the semi-finals take place on Firday, with the final 24 hours later.
“Marwan truly deserved his shot after an amazing season,,” said Matthew. “I didn’t expect this, obviously, but now I’m there I will give it my absolute best shot as always.”