Nick Matthew praised British Open sponsor Dr Assem Allam for staging last year’s tournament outdoors at Hull’s football and rugby league stadium, as the reigning World Champion prepares to launch his bid for a fourth Open title.
“I think the Allams should be applauded for trying a unique venue,” said the Yorkshireman. “Innovative venues that attract non-squash fans are always exciting to play in.”
The triple world champion says the 2014 Open is “right at the top” of his priorities this year alongside the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow in the summer.
“It would be a career highlight [to win a fourth Open title], especially to win it in Yorkshire,” added Matthew, whose previous Open successes came in 2006, 2009 and 2012.
The 2013 PSA Player of the Year has been enjoying a break from competitive play since winning the Canary Wharf Classic in London in March and then helping Benz-Bavarian Duffield to the Premier League final earlier this month.
“The most important preparation I had was a bit of rest in Sea Island Resort in the States!” he quipped. “I will be using the Europeans for vital match practice before the British.”
Matthew teams up this week with James Willstrop, Peter Barker, Daryl Selby and Adrian Grant as England attempt to continue their domination of the European Men’s Team Championship in Riccione in Italy.
The 33-year-old world no.2 knows he will have to be at his best to fulfil his no.1 seeding at the Open in front of his home crowd.
“The top seeds are all in form and in their own unique ways will have targeted this event,” he said. “There are always upsets too.”