Squash: Imperious Matthew bags fifth national title

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NICK Matthew is a record breaker.

The two-time world champion, born and bred in Sheffield, secured his fifth national squash title in Manchester last night, beating fellow Yorkshireman James Willstrop in straight games, 11/9, 11/3, 11/3 in just 49 minutes.

Willstrop struggled physically throughout in the final following a gruelling 99 minute semi-final clash with Peter Barker.

“James is a great competitor, and whilst he won’t make excuses, I can do it for him because he was clearly not at his best today and I have the utmost respect for him,” said number one seed Matthew, who defeated Tom Richards in the last four. “There is a rivalry between us, the same as there is with Ramy (Ashour)or Greg (Gaultier) or any of the top players, but, if that rivalry keeps putting bottoms on seats, long may it continue. The atmosphere for the last two finals has been sensational. This deserves to be an Olympic sport.”

It is fair to say Matthew and Willstrop do not see eye to eye. “I wouldn’t say our relationship is acrimonious - but we’re not friends,” Willstrop recently said.

However, in the head to head meetings, Matthew has now won 20 of their 25 competitive encounters.

Willstrop paid tribute to Matthew, saying: “All credit to him; he put me under more pressure physically than anyone has for a long time.”