Nicol David and Nick Matthew are the Champions

Nicol David and Nick Matthew are the Champions

 [1] Nicol David (Mas) bt [16] Nour El Sherbini (Egy) 11/6, 11/6 , 11/6 (33m)

[3] Nick Matthew (Eng) bt [4] Ramy Ashour (Egy)  11/9, 11/4, 11/8 (49m)

It’s a Nick Hat-Trick at the O2

Nick Matthew retained his British Open title with an immaculate display in the final to beat Ramy Ashour in straight games, to the delight of the packed home crowd at the O2 Arena. After taking a tight first game Matthew dominated the second, and at 7/2 in the third a quick finish looked likely. A fightback from Ashour took him to an 8/7 lead but Matthew took the last four points and jumped with delight as he became the first Englishman ever to win the British Open three times. 


Please, please, I’m not taking anything away from Nick in this report, but this final was bound to be flat in my opinion.

Nick did spent more time on court than Ramy (218 minutes against 210), but the intensity of Ramy’s matches much more. For Nick, Max Lee (W36), Tom Richards (16), LJ (9) and Peter Barker (7) , losing only two games along the way. For Ramy, Daryl (10) 16/14 in the fourth, Borja (20) 11/6 in the 5th, back from 2/0 down, Shabana (6) in 5, and last night, one of the most magical matches I ever saw, only the World number one, James Willstrop, 11/8 in the 4th.

In other words, people, like Peter Barker was against Nick, the day after his huge victory against Greg, The Artist was a bit  flat tonight.

Don’t misunderstand me, if Nick hadn’t been at the top of his game, and didn’t clinch the first game, you never know. Adrenalin could have popped up, and carried Ramy to the finishing post. Maybe against a lesser player, Ramy could have got away with it. Not against a Nick on fire…
Mentally, emotionally, Ramy was drained tonight, and Nick far too sharp, far too accurate, playing the perfect shot again and again, using the fact that Ramy’s shots weren’t going in at all (20 tins in three games) to his advantage, and pushing the Egyptian further and further back to make the court bigger and bigger.

The Egyptian support got behind their man when he came back in the third from 6/2 to 8/7, matching and putting pressure on Nick not at the front, but at the back, quite remarkable and proves that Ramy tried everything really and does have a plan B…

But it was too little too late, and Nick, surely, accurately, ineluctably, walked towards his destiny, the only ever English player to win the British Open three times.

Nick Matthew:

“You can never plan what you are going to do against Ramy, he plays shots with so fine margin, those shots that he tinned today, had they been good, they would have been winners. I was lucky they found the tin.

“He is such a magician, a genius and I say that after I was at the wrong end of a few matches, he beat me the last 5 times we played. I knew by experience that I had to take the first game, that it would be crucial.

“I was joking just now with Jahangir Khan, telling him “only 7 to go”…. I’m 32 this summer, not many more for me probably, but there will be a lot more for Ramy I’m sure.

“I was calling my girlfriend Esmee, because everybody is there, my mum and dad, my coach, my manager, a lot of friends from Sheffield as well and from Duffield, but the one person I wanted here wasn’t. So I called her… and she didn’t pick up!!!!!!!

“Next year, I’ll be defending my title, it will be in my home territory next, and if the other players think this is England territory, wait until you come to your home turf!!!!”

Ramy Ashour:

“Not much to say really. I guess that the positive side is that I managed to finish the season with no injury, and that’s enormous for me. When I think of where I was a few months back, thinking I would never play squash again after the World Open, I guess I can only be proud of my season and what I have achieved today.

This match was probably one match too far after the effort I produced this week, it took a lot out of me, but yet again, it was a quality match, Nick played very well. Maybe I should have been more patient when I realised that my shots were not going in at all today…

“Once again, I need to thank Dr Allam, a thousand thank you, all my coaches back home, my brother for his support, and of course Aspire for the work they are doing with me for months now.

“Nick deserves this victory today, he played very well, but I’ll still try to keep a smile on my face for my summer training…”

It’s a fourth British Open title for Nicol David

It was her first major final as a senior, whereas her opponent had already won three British and six World Open titles along with countless others.

But young Nour El Sherbini acquitted herself well, beyond any reasonable expectations if we’re honest, staying with Nicol David for the first half of the first two games before Nicol pulled clear to take them 11/6, 11/6.

The third went away from her quickly though, as Nicol kept playing the solid, steady, accurate nimble squash that she executes to perfection, taking eight points in a row to move to 9/3 and then 10/4.

Still Nour made a fight of it, three lets and two match balls saved, but in the end there was only going to be one winner, as Nicol did a little skip of delight as she won the final point to take her fourth British Open title.

Nicol David:

“It was another British Open final, and I was really fired up to play against Sherbini.

“She is just a strong player, she was playing amazing shots, she is certainly up and coming, probably playing top 3 at the moment. She will no doubt join the other girls, English, Egyptians, and Malaysians coming up too, and I’m looking forward for a strong next season.

“At the start of the match, she has those burst of energy coming through her shots, so I made sure I lengthen the rallies, and she finally bowed. But how GREAT are her shots!!!!

“At the end of the last game, she suddenly relaxed, and went for her shots. And I could see in her eyes that she was taking it one, and I could feel that she was not ready to let me go yet… She is one to watch, although she is only 16, I have a lot to learn from her.

“I wanted so much to win it, because I lost it last time, and it’s not easy losing, I HATE losing, and that why I keep winning…”

Nour El Sherbini:

“I don’t know exactly what happened, I knew I had to have perfect shots today if I wanted to match her game, she is the world number one, she is such a strong player, but my shots were just not there, and I just couldn’t play my game.

“But I’m not sad, I’m so happy I reached the final of the British Open, maybe next year, maybe next tournament….”

Dr Assem Allam:

“Squash has always been part of my family, I used to play squash, my brother used to play squash for many years, he played in the British Open for years, my children play squash, and for me, squash is not a commercial affair, it’s part of my family.

“The squash is completely different now than what it was when I was young. Different court, different racquet, different ball, different technique.

“It’s such an amazing sport. Yesterday, we were watching the match between James and Ramy, and I think that it was the best match ever played, and Jahangir Khan, the Legend, said so too, so it must be true! I’m looking forward to see the next match.

“Allam will organise the British Open for the next two years. Next year, we should be having it in Hull, in Yorkshire. It’s an area in the country where the top two players are from, Nick and James, it’s a region where there are many squash lovers, Sheffield, Pontefract, Leeds, Hull… It’s all about taking squash to the people of the North, who sometimes cannot afford to come to London to see some great squash.”

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