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Matthew looks lively again - November 26, 2011
Matthew did that with an 11-7, 11-9, 11-8 win over Cameron Pilley, the 13th seeded Australian, advancing his aim to become year-end world number one again by claiming at least one of the two remaining major titles of 2012.
The Englishman trailed only briefly, by 3-4 in the first game, and although he lost a three-point lead in the second as Pilley recovered to 5-5 and then 8-8, he responded quickly to potential danger and was usually the better mover.
Despite this Matthew didn’t feel he was his lively self again. “I was a little bit flat tonight,” he reckoned. “That’s why I had a couple of chats with the referee. I needed it to get myself gee-ed up.”
There were more than just a couple of chats with referees during the match in which Gregory Gaultier, the World Open runner-up, overcame his friend and sparring partner Azlan Iskandar.
The Frenchman beat the 13th-seeded Malaysian 11-4, 11-7, 11-5 after Iskandar had conceded an ill-timed conduct stroke which concluded the match.
Iskandar had already received a conduct warning for hurling his racket at the back wall at the end of the second game. When he did it again after losing a rally which put him match point down, the referee awarded a point and announced that the contest was over.
It had nevertheless been a fierce-spirited rather than nasty match between two players who trained together for a month in Malaysia earlier this year, and who clearly respected each other.
“He had a couple of harsh decisions and should have let them go instead of keeping them in his head. But I’m trying to do that too, learn to forget bad calls, and I can’t always do it myself,” Gaultier candidly admitted.
Whether Gaultier and Matthew get another repeat of the World Open final will be decided by a quarter-final re-draw tomorrow (Saturday) – the first time squash will ever have adopted such changes mid-tournament.
In the mix will be James Willstrop, the winner of the World Series event in Hong Kong last week, and Karim Darwish, the former world number one from Egypt. But another former world number one, Thierry Lincou, won’t be in it.
The 35-year-old Frenchman finished with the lion’s share of applause and with a blue glove on his bleeding left hand after a 11-9, 3-11, 10-12, 11-2, 11-8 loss to Laurens Jan Anjema, the tenth seeded Dutchman, in a 71-minute thriller.
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