Nick Matthew Wins Tournament of Champions To Return To World No.1

An 85-minute all-English climax to the 2012 JP Morgan Tournament of Champions in New York saw Nick Matthew not only win the prestigious PSA World Series squash title at Grand Central Terminal for the first time, but also wrest the World No.1 ranking from his opponent James Willstrop.
 
"This win is right alongside the Worlds and Commonwealth Games gold medals as my best victories," said the jubilant 31-year-old after his fourth Tournament of Champions final and playing his first tournament after two months off the World Tour to recover from adductor injury sustained during last year's Kuwait PSA Cup.
 
The eagerly-awaited clash before a capacity crowd in the Vanderbilt Hall at Grand Central Terminal was the 28th meeting between the two Englishmen on the international circuit - with Matthew, the World No.1 throughout 2011, boasting a 19-8 advantage and an unbroken winning streak of 12 matches since December 2007.
 
But it was their first confrontation since Willstrop had won three consecutive PSA World Series titles at the end of 2011 and replaced his rival at the top of the men’s world rankings at the beginning of this year.
 
The match was marked by physical play, wall-hugging rallies and several mini shifts in momentum. "I think one of the differences was that I did a better job of capitalising on the momentum when it shifted my way," said Matthew.
 
That was certainly true in the third and fourth games, but in the first it was 28-year-old Willstrop who took advantage when he surged ahead 10-7, after being down 5-7, and the younger of the two  Englishman rode the momentum from his 11-8 first game win to take an early 5-2 lead in the second.
 
Matthew fought back to move 6-5 ahead, however Willstrop when leading 9-7 moved his compatriot to the four corners of the court and looked to be heading to game-ball when he forced a loose shot from his opponent at the front of the court, but inexplicably hit the tin.
 
"The end of that second game was really the difference in the match," explained Willstrop later. "I needed to put it away." Instead of being ahead 2/0, the 2010 ToC title-holder was tied at one-all with an opponent renowned for his physical prowess.
 
Matthew's confidence grew as the match continued and the third game saw him stay in front of his fiercest rival to clinch the game 11-5.
 
The fourth game was marked by several shifts in momentum. Matthew established an early 5-1 lead, but Willstrop clawed his way back to 5-5.
 
"At 5-1, I started thinking about winning the match, and then, before I knew it, it was 5-5," said the eventual winner. "So I had to re-focus."
 
After Matthew took the next point on a stroke decision, Willstrop stayed close but couldn't snatch back the lead. A few times during the game, especially as play got physical, Matthew got emotional. "I knew I needed to be aggressive," said reigning World Champion.
 
"But sometimes it was also the pent up emotion of the last couple of months. It was hard to lose the No1 ranking because of inactivity, and sometimes I could be a real pain to be around."
 
At match ball, 10-7, Matthew passed Willstrop on the forehand side with a shot that was too crisp and too deep to retrieve. After four trips to the final, Matthew was taking home the ToC Trophy and reclaiming his treasured World No1 ranking with the 8-11 11-9 11-5 11-7 triumph earning him his 22nd PSA World Tour title of his career.
 
PSA World Series JP Morgan Tournament of Champions, New York, USA
Final:
[1] Nick Matthew (ENG) bt [2] James Willstrop (ENG) 8-11, 11-9, 11-5, 11-7