Time off court leaves Sheffield's Nick Matthew hungry in Dubai

three-time world champion Nick Matthew is set to return to action after a frustrating injury lay-off.

Nick Matthew

The current world No 3 has been suffering from an ongoing ankle problem since April 2015, and finally decided to take a break from the sport in March this year, so that he would be ready for the World Series Finals, which begin on Tuesday in Dubai.

Matthew was convinced that the time away from the sport was necessary in order to be able to compete at the top level of the game again.

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“It’s going really well, it’s been a definite improvement from the last few months.” said Matthew.

“During the season the niggling injuries can creep up on you because the tournaments come round so thick and fast. So what I decided to do was to take a bit of time out and really get ready for this one and try to get to the bottom of the injury problem.”

The exact issue with the ankle is still not known, and therefore there is no definitive treatment which will cure it, and it will require careful management in order to make sure it stays as healthy as possible.

“I’ve got a bit of a degenerative ankle with years and years of pounding the squash court, so it wasn’t a straightforward problem like rolling an ankle or doing a ligament,” he explained. “We needed to go right back to square one and really strengthen again and isolate the key muscles, ligaments and bones, which has been a long process and I’ve had injections as a part of that.

“I’ve been doing a lot of ice therapy and rehab as well as progressing the on-court stuff, so it has been pretty intense.”

The English No 1 admitted he missed the competitive action and was raring to get going again.

“It’s the buzz of when you’re next on court and your name gets introduced in front of a packed-out crowd, you just get that adrenaline buzz that you can’t replicate in training sessions,” he said.

“The feeling of being on that stage and not being able to perform at your best, it’s been very difficult the last few months doing that, I’m far too long in the tooth as an athlete to be doing that when I’m not fully fit because I want to do myself justice.”