Nick Matthew column: The titles will come if I keep putting myself in the mix

Nick Matthew, left, and Mohamed Elshorbagy
Nick Matthew, left, and Mohamed Elshorbagy

My overriding feeling after losing to world number one Mohamed Elshorbagy in the final of the AJ Bell British Squash Grand Prix was disappointment.

When I spoke to my coach yesterday, he told me I should be delighted with how I performed considering where I was a week or so ago. Given the preparations I have had due to recovering from a knee operation, I would have snatched your hand off to go that deep into the tournament.

I know that my coach is right when he says I should be happy with my performance but, as a competitor, you want to win. The good thing is that shows I’ve still got the competitive juices. If I wasn’t disappointed, it would maybe show I’ve lost a little bit of hunger.

I am trying to keep things in perspective. I knew it would be a tall order playing against Elshorbagy, despite him having a tough semi-final clash with Gregory Gaultier the day before.

Monday night was the first time I had been exposed to that pace in a long, long time. You can’t replicate that high intensity and skill level on the practice court. It took me about a game and a half to adapt to the pace that Elshorbagy was playing at.

After going two games down, I told myself that there’s no point going down with a whimper. I knew I had to go down fighting as that’s the way you learn and improve. I took the third game before Elshorbagy claimed the fourth.

At the age of 35, I am over the moon to have reached the final as there were times over the summer when I questioned whether I was on the right path.

You have to keep putting yourself in the mix and be happy to get to the latter stages of a tournament. If you keep putting yourself in those positions, you will win your fair share. Roger Federer will be the saying the same thing after making back-to-back Grand Slam finals in tennis.

What I have done is given myself a fantastic platform to build on. There are areas that I need to work on in my game but I have got to remember the things that I did well in the Grand Prix.

I should not be worrying about the here and now. I want to peak for the World Championships in a couple of months time and I am confident I will get better with each tournament I play.