Despite first achieving a world top five ranking in October 2004, it was in 2006 that Nick Matthew made an indelible mark on squash history when the Englishman, seeded six, upset third-seeded Frenchman Thierry Lincou in the final of the British Open in Nottingham to become the first home-grown champion of the world’s most prestigious event for 67 years!
“This has to be the pinnacle of my achievements,” said the Yorkshireman who beat Lincou 11-8, 5-11, 11-4, 9-11, 11-6 in 82 minutes to become the first true English champion since Jim Dear in 1939.
The triumph rounded off a sensational year for the 28-year-old from Sheffield, which began when he won the British National title for the first time – later becoming the only person to hold the National and Open titles simultaneously.
The disappointment of failing to retain his British Open title in September 2007 – when he lost out to world number one Amr Shabana in the quarter-finals – was tempered by his achievement in New York City two weeks later when he won his maiden Super Series crown.
Seeded six in the US Open, Matthew made his breakthrough in the quarter-finals when he upset Thierry Lincou in five games. In the semis, he avenged his Qatar Classic defeat by beating the event’s second seed Ramy Ashour in four games, before celebrating his historic triumph in a straight games win over compatriot James Willstrop.
In December, this time playing alongside Willstrop, Matthew led England to a successful defence of the World Team title, beating Australia in the final.
But in January 2008, Matthew underwent surgery to repair a torn ligament in his right shoulder – and the England international was out of action for eight months until making a winning comeback at the Dutch Open in September.
A month later, he exceeded his seeding to reach the semi-finals of the Qatar Classic after upsetting fourth seed David Palmer 11-3, 11-9, 10-12, 13-15, 11-6 in 111 minutes – which proved to be the longest match of his Tour career!
Making rapid improvement since his layoff, eighth seed Matthew also made the last four of the Saudi International in December after upsetting new World Open champion Ramy Ashour.
Matthew celebrated the first anniversary of his surgery with the beginning of a sensational run in 2009 – firstly by making the final of the Tournament of Champions in New York as the No8 seed (upsetting Shabana, Ashour and Willstrop before losing out to fourth seed Gaultier) – then securing the Swedish Open trophy for the first time after despatching title-holder Willstrop in the semi-finals.
Within a week, he had claimed the British National crown for the second time, and by the end of the February the rejuvenated Englishman had battled through a high quality North American Open field to reach the final of the new Super Series event in Virginia – marking the 26th PSA Tour final of his career. The success propelled Matthew to a career-equalling-high No5 in the world rankings in March.
In June 2010, Matthew reach world #1 ranking for the first time in his life, few short months later, in October 2010, Matthew made history by winning the individual and doubles gold medals at the Commonwealth games in Delhi, India.
In November 2011, Nick has defended his World titled by beating Gregory Gaultier from France to become the first player since Jansher Khan from Pakistan to win a back to back world open title. In the process, Nick has maintained his world #1 ranking for a full year.
Matthew enjoyed a promising junior career – in which he represented England in both the European and World Team Championships and was runner-up in the 1998 European Junior Open and winner of the 1999 British Junior Open.