The B I G Canary Wharf interview
#5: 11 POINTS WITH NICK MATTHEW
The defending champion talks to ALAN THATCHER as he launches his bid for a hat-trick of Canary Wharf titles
1: You came back strongly after your injury to win the ToC in New York. That must have been a great feeling to get everything back in working order so soon.
That was an amazing feeling and totally unexpected straight after the injury. I can surprise myself with how stubborn I can be at times.
2: For some reason you seemed to be struggling to hit the same level in the North American Open. What did you put that down to?
To be disappointed “Only” to reach the semis shows how far I have come and in hindsight I can’t be too disappointed. You can’t expect to play your best squash every week but you’re right, I didn’t play as well as in New York or the Nationals so I will look to put that right this week.
3: After losing to Ramy Ashour in the NAO semi-finals, you said you needed to go away and work on a few things. How has that gone?
We will see next time I play Ramy! No, seriously, it has been nice to have had a few weeks to put a bit of groundwork in again.
I have found over the years I don’t play my best when you from tournament to tournament. I tend to play better when I get a few weeks at home to see my team and prepare properly.
4: How have you balanced your time between rest and training? I noticed you were doing some speed work last week. What sort of routines do you do for that?
Basically it’s an intense session and involves a lot of sprints and shuttles with very little rest. If it’s an out and out speed one, I have a lot more rest between sets and include more plyometrics and skipping work.
When you get into your 30s you realise the benefit of rest and training, but it’s a hard balance to master, as your needs are never the same two weeks in a row.
I love the atmosphere in the East Wintergarden. It feels like the home of squash in London now in a way. I truly think it is that established now. Tim, Peter and the whole team deserve a great deal of credit.
6: The crowds at Canary Wharf always get behind the English players in vocal fashion. That must be a real bonus knowing you can count on that support.
Definitely! The crowds are brilliant, especially on the Thursday and Friday nights, although I tend to have a habit of meeting a few of the London guys who rightly so have more support than me!
7: Winning the World Open two years in a row was a phenomenal achievement. Looking back, what are the things you remember the most from the two finals against James Willstrop and Gregory Gaultier?
Being more nervous than normal beforehand, but in a good way, starting out second best then getting in to some sort of mental zone where there was no way I was going to lose either match even if they went on for ever!
8: We can’t avoid the question of your rivalry with James. Have you read his book yet?
No I haven’t but I have heard a few things about it, both good and bad.
9: You were very sporting with your remarks about James producing a tactical master-class to beat Ramy Ashour in the NAO final. Will you need to produce your own tactical master-class to beat him should you meet in the Canary Wharf final?
James was unbelievable in that final. If he had been 1% below that level then Ramy might have sniffed an opening but James was relentless with his accuracy on that day. He has played consistently to this level over the past few months and deserves to be number one.
Things are buzzing in anticipation of it all being finished and we are due to have a grand opening night on June 16th. The likes of Peter Barker, Adrian Grant and Daryl Selby have kindly donated their time so it should be a great night.
11: Can you suggest a fantastic idea to promote the game ahead of the vote to include squash in the 2020 Olympics?
In this country I think it would be unbelievable if we could manage a series of Head To Head matches with myself and James around the country in shopping malls and iconic venues. I think people would really get behind the rivalry but it might be hard to get off the ground.
Nick, I’m on it, and I hope we can get that set up over the summer months so that we can get those matches on TV to raise the profile of the sport ahead of the IOC vote.
Many thanks for taking part in the interview and good luck this week at Canary Wharf.