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TODAY at the World Open Squash 2011                                                       facebooktwitter
Day TEN, Sun 6th,  THE FINALS                                                                                  
Fram and Steve in Rotterdam

Iím leading 1/0, but at the end of the second, there are two three points at the key moment of the game where Iím extremely disappointed with the referring. It would have been a massive difference between being 1/1, and being 2/0, you can deal with the fatigue in a different way.

Iím extremely disappointed, of course, he played very well, but Iím particularly disappointed with the video refereeing.

This system has been put in place to support the players and make the referring better and fairer. But today, it went the complete opposite way, we just didnít know what was the line that the refs were following anymore, and how to react to it.

And itís not so much a good or bad decision that was at stake here, but the consistency. Refs can take a bad decision, that happens, but then, theyíve got to stick to that line. In this case, I feel they didnít.

But I cannot stress enough how great Nick played, Iíve very disappointed of course, but I will get to win this tournament.

Shame, I was playing well on this tournament, shame I had to lose that wayÖ

I would like to take this opportunity to thank my team, the people that are taking care of me, and that have been taking care of me since Iím very young.

Also wanted to thank all the people that came here to Rotterdam along with the people that followed the match on SquashTV, thank them for the messages I gotÖ

Of course, I would like to thank my sponsors, my federation and my Club, Set Aix, my family, my friends, and my sparring partners.

And a big round of applause to Tommy Berden and his team, along with the event sponsors for such a great eventÖ

Matthew and David defend
World Open titles in Rotterdam


Defending champions, top seeds and world number ones Nick Matthew and Nicol David both successfully defended their World Open titles in contrasting finals at the Luxor Theatre in Rotterdam, the Netherlands' City of Sports.

World Open Finals:                              Richard Eaton: Matthew makes it two

[1] Nicol David (Mas) bt [2] Jenny Duncalf (Eng)
            11/2, 11/5, 11/0 (28m)
[1] Nick Matthew (Eng) bt [6] Gregory Gaultier (Fra)
             6/11, 11/9, 11/6, 11/5 (92m)

Nicol Supreme for Six

Malaysian superstar Nicol David collected a record SIXTH World Open title here at the Luxor Theatre in Rotterdam with a supreme performance to dismiss second seed Jenny Duncalf in straight games in just under half an hour.

The English world number two didn't do anything wrong, made very few unforced errors, but it was hard to see where her points were going to come from, such was the control that the Malaysian, moving and hitting supremely well, was exerting on the match and on her opponent.

Nicol led 5/0 in the first after some long opening rallies, taking it 11/2, she led 6/2 in the second, finishing it off 11/5, and was totally dominant in the third as Duncalf's spirit visibly wilted.

Six titles in seven years for Nicol.

Supreme.

She was ridiculously good today, it happened a couple of times in big finals, in the Commonwealth Games final, hereÖ. Itís a bit of an anti-climax really.

She never let me get into the match, her length was incredible, she was in front of me the whole time, and when you have Nicol in front of you, you are in big trouble.

I wanted to stay on there as long as possible, but she had other ideasÖ

I canít think of anything right now, no wordsÖ.

This is my best performance ever. I didnít expect anything but I wanted it so badly, I didnít want anybody to put their hands on that trophy but me.

I canít remember anything from my match, because I was so focused. Just that I saw the ball early, that I felt strong, and that I didnít want to give Jenny anything. I stuck to have I had to do, hunt every ball down, and committed fully to each and every shot.

I had a great support in the crowd, they were magnificent, I had my parents, Liz, and a big team of supporters from Squash City in Amsterdam that came to support me. Itís wonderful, those people have been around me for the past two years now, and it proves that if you have the right people around you, you can realise your full potential.

In Malaysia, a world title is huge, we are not a nation with great sport victories, so I just hope I can repay all what Malaysia has done for me, and which has carried me this far. And my parents always respected my choices, and when squash was the choice I picked, they helped and support me all the way.

The record is just a bonus for me, I donít do things for records, just for the feeling I get when Iím out there on the court, for that challenge I get from the other players.

My World Open titles mean the world to me, but I would gladly trade the six of them for just one Olympic MedalÖ

Matthew still the Champion

It took a little over three times as long as the women's final, but Nick Matthew retained his World Open title with a scintillating performance in front of a packed crowd at the Luxor Theatre.

Gregory Gaultier, playing in his third final, pulled away to take a tough first game, but Matthew took an equally tough second, then pulled clear at the end of the third after the Frenchman took a small injury break after a mid-court collision.

The defending champion made a strong start to the fourth, and at 6/1 it looked as is the end might come quickly, but Gaultier, invoking the crowd to help, started on a comeback that was cut short at 6/4 by a couple of errors.

Once Matthew had re-established the lead he closed the match out and raised his arms in triumph ... still the World Champion.

NICK, TOO STRONGÖ.

What a heartbreaking match that was for the French camp, at so many levelsÖ But letís rewind, shall we.

I truly believe that Qatar was still in Gregís legs and head, and that quite logically, he was not as sharp as Nick was ! I remember thinking after the coming back from 2/0 down against LJ that this could have cost Greg the titleÖ.

The Frenchman started well, overplaying Nick at the front and at the back, forcing four errors out of the number one, rather uncharacteristic to say the least. Greg took that first one in a quite convincing fashion.

But from 3/5 in the second, Greg was showing signs of tiredness, as I feared. Being tired in the middle of the second game against Nick is not a good ideaÖ. But I thought that Greg had probably enough under the foot and in the heart to weather the storm until heíd found his second wind.

That second game was massive, and if Greg was trading behind at the start, he did exactly what was to be expected, he dug in, gave it a big push, and a match on our hands we had. Beautiful rallies, great retrieval and volley drop shots from both, the massive crowd going hooooo, and haaaaaaa, nothing between them to be honest, 5/5. 6/6.

From that moment on and until the end of the 2nd game, I had trouble following the decisions of the refs, the four of them. I was struggling to follow their lines Ė honestly, yes Iím French, but Iím hoping itís not influencing me too much Ė and really struggled to make sense of it all.

Greg was struggling with it too, and when a no let against Nick was overturned to a let, at a crucial 8/10 that should have been a 9/10, pressure mounted in the Frenchmanís head. He still took the next one, on adrenalin, but lost the 9/10 game ball on a ďcorner shotĒ, a straight drive that caught the corner to shoot way in the middle.

ďThey robbed me of that oneĒ, shouted Greg in French as he walked out.

Now, letís be quite frank here. Iím not saying that Greg would have won the match had he won that second. I truly believe that Nick was just too strong tonight, at all levels, and I suspect he would have won the next three games, because he was ready to stay on there all night, which I doubt Greg would have been able to at this point. And the way he relentlessly twisted and turned the Frenchman in the next two games seem to prove that.

I know that Greg would probably argue that the adrenalin would have kicked him had heíd been 2/0 up, and that he probably would have been alright. Iím only writing what I feel, and although I truly feel the refereing was not up to scratch tonight in patches, the stronger player, both mentally and physically won tonight.

England can be proud of their Double World Champion, who by the way could do with a bit more recognition from the Main Stream English Press and TVÖ.

I donít think I did one thing particularly to grind Greg down, it was more a combination of several factors. First, I tried not to panic in the first game, like I did in the quarters against Peter.

I knew that I was not playing badly, not doing anything wrong in particular, but that he was just playing better than me.

I stuck in, stuck in, stuck in, and just started to attack a little bit. I got a finger in the door, and then my body through, and saw a chink of light and went for it.

Then I realised that he was now slowing down the pace whereas at the start, he was trying to speed it up, so I kept on pushing and pushing. And after I got the second, things got a bit easier, although he took a very good start in the thirdÖ

Greg and I go way back, he is not malicious I promise you, we just had a few words with the ref, but I cannot stress enough how tough he is, when we were young, I was 18 and he was 15, and he was beating me sometimes, thatís to show how good he was from very young, and heíll put his hand on the trophy no doubt.

What kept me going in the match was also something that my manager Paul Walters said to me, that the Shorbagy match was a blessing in disguise, because it showed me I could go through it, and after a few bad losses, it gave me the confidence again to know that I could rally as long as I wanted toÖ.

When I won today, it was pure joy, and pure reliefÖ.

No one can say that I've not had a tough draw - the second round against Tarek in Victoria, after Qatar; the Shorbagy match; being one down against Pete; Darwish yesterday; and Greg tonight. I've not won too many tournaments lately. I think that when you get to number one, it's all about winning tournaments.

My percentage of finals to wins, is good - apart from Qatar - but you've got to win finals. I picked my moment this week though - no one can argue!

I would like to thank my mum and dad who are here, with my manager Paul, coach David Pearson, my girlfriend, physio Phil, and at home Jade, Rob and Stafford, all my apologies to the people I forgotÖ.

I feel for him, heís been in three finals now, but hopefully heíll will after Iím gone!!!

 

 

Preview:
Reigning
champions aiming to defend titles in Rotterdam

With all four semi-finals of the World Open Squash 2001 at the New Luxor Theatre in Rotterdam finishing in straight-game victories, defending champions and world number ones Nick Matthew and Nicol David remain on course to retain their title in this, the richest-ever squash event, with a combined prize fund of over $400,000.

Their opponents in today's finals will be France's Gregory Gaultier, twice a World Open runner-up, and England's Jenny Duncalf, the world number two who will be appearing in her first World Open final.

Fancy a Flutter? Final Stats ...

For Nicol David the World Open final is no strange place. Competing in her 10th event, the Malaysian Datuk is in her 6th final, and looking to win the title for a record 6th time. 41 matches, just 3 defeats, the World Open is David's natural domain.

For opponent Jenny Duncalf, it's a first outing in the final. "If you could choose one match to play in, the World Open final would be it," she said after winning the semi-final; yesterday, her 2nd in 11 World Open outings, and she'll be playing her 25th match in the pinnacle event today.

Against David, Duncalf has played just once in the World Open, in Amsterdam two years ago, but overall they have met 28 times and the Englishwoman has just 2 victories to her name, both at the end of 2009 but David has avenged those 8 times since, 3 times this year in Grand Cayman, Malaysia and Australia, all of them finals.

Nick Matthew and Gregory Gaultier are also no strangers to the World Open or to each other. As Gaultier said last night, "it's nice to see my generation of players at the top of the game still." The English defending champion is competing in his 11th World Open, the Frenchman his 10th, and neither are unaccustomed to reaching the final stages, Matthew reaching the quarters or better in the last 5 events, Gaultier failing to reach that stage just once in the last 7.

For the record that's 36 World Open matches each, 27 wins each. Gaultier has made two finals, losing out agonisingly in 2006 and convincingly in 2007, Matthew won his one final last year in Saudi.

Against each other they've played in 2 World Opens, 2009 and 2007 with Gaultier winning both times. They have shared victory in their 22 matches at 11 each, but in senior competition if you take away Matthew's 4 wins in team events Gaultier has a 10-6 advantage. On the other hand Gaultier's last win was in the 2009 World Open and all 4 meetings since then have gone Matthew's way.

Does all this help predict a winner? Probably not, but a fantastic pair of finals is a fair bet ...

                                                                          Facts and Figures gleaned from www.SquashInfo.com

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