Matthew Is ToC Champion - & New World No1
27 January 2012
RESULTS: PSA World Series JP Morgan
Tournament of Champions, New York, USA
 Nick Matthew (ENG) bt  James Willstrop
(ENG) 8-11, 11-9, 11-5, 11-7 (85m)
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 number one ranking from his opponent James
"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 tour to recover from an injury.
The eagerly-awaited clash before a jam
packed crowd glued to their seats in Vanderbilt Hall at
Grand Central Terminal was the 28th Tour meeting between the two
Yorkshiremen - with Matthew, the world No1 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 run off three PSA World Series titles in a row and
replaced his rival at the top of the PSA 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 tonight was that I did a better job
of capitalising on the momentum when it shifted my way," said
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.
Willstrop 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.
Later up 9-7, Willstrop moved Matthew 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.
Instead, he 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 who was physically fresher as a result of not having
played any tournaments for two months.
"One could also see Matthew's confidence
build as play continued," suggested tournament spokesperson Beth
Rasin. The third game saw Matthew stay in front of Willstrop
almost the whole way to take the game 11-5.
The fourth game was marked by several
swings in momentum. Matthew jumped out to an early 5-1 lead, but
Willstrop clambered 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 Sheffield-born-and-raised Matthew.
"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 the world No1
ranking in February.
The 8-11, 11-9, 11-5, 11-7 triumph earns
Matthew the 22nd PSA World Tour title of his career.
Willstrop later acknowledged that he
"needs to work harder" to figure out a way to beat his long-time