Nick Matthew column: Semi-final Open defeat hurt, but I have had a brilliant season

Nick Matthew
Nick Matthew

Losing in the semi-finals of the Allam British Open to Mohamed Elshorbagy was a disappointing way to end my season.

The British Open is the Wimbledon of squash and, alongside the World Championships, is one I want to win above all others.

I know I could have performed better against Elshorbagy but that disappointment will fuel my fire for next season. I need to bottle that now and put it to one side and take it out again when I begin my summer training in mid to late June.

I chatted to Jahangir Khan, who won 10 British Open titles and is the best squash player of all time, after my semi-final defeat. He could see I was down and told me I am doing amazingly well and that he wasn’t able to do what I’m doing at the age of 34. That was a real pick me up. You are stupid if you don’t listen to somebody like Jahangir.

I know I have had a brilliant season. I won in Manchester, Sweden, Chicago and London. I also won my seventh national title. Five tournament victories on the back of Commonwealth gold is a great achievement so I should not lose sight of that.

I have made the semi-final or better in every tournament I have played this year. I always thought I had one or two tournament victories in me, but I have surprised myself in getting to the semi-finals or better of every event.

I thought there might be a few more blips and my form would be a bit up and down in some of the major events so I am delighted with my consistency levels.

Reaching the semi-finals of the British Open is not to be taken for granted especially after almost failing to make it to the starting line due to my ankle injury. Now I need to sort out my ankle and make sure I do the right things.

If I am going to push on again, it’s a really important summer for me. Any sportsman will tell you that pre-season is crucial because otherwise you are playing catch up throughout the season. At my age, it is even more vital.

Last year, my pre-season was interrupted because of my knee operation, the Commonwealth Games and the birth of my daughter. The key for me now is to have a rest, utilise all the experience I have got, learn lessons from this year and get a good pre-season under my belt. When my preparation is good, I have proven over the years that I am able to compete at the very top of the game.

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