28 May 2010


A few days left and the June PSA rankings will start with Nick Matthew's name, the greatest retriever of the modern era of squash - and that's a big word in 2010, as today's squash, with the PAR scoring system, the light rackets and above all the lowered tin allows a much more attacking squash than ever before and people like Ramy Ashour and Amr Shabana, in terms of drops and nicks give harder lessons of attacking squash than anybody else in the past. The below rally represents perfectly Nick Matthew's qualities of retrieving and recovering (even if Darwish ends up winning the point). In fact, that one retrieving at 0:43 in the rally for itself is almost surreal. In general Matthew uses maybe more than anybody the momentum of his whole upper body whilst hitting the ball. His movement is not naturally as fluid as for example Gaultier's, but it is still extremely efficient due to the hilarious mix of speed, fitness, and 'culture' of  moving. He of course is not only a great retriever, as he has an extremely advanced position on the 'T' which allows him to chase the volley, and he also has one of the best lobs on the tour - a lob that not only gets him out of trouble, but often creates the opening to win the rally. The main progress he has done since coming back from his last injury break about 18 month ago is the drop-shot. It's still not the best in the world (maybe the only domain where he slips out of the top 3 technically speaking), but he reads and reacts so fast that he doesn't have to panic if his drop-shot is slightly long or high, he'll just go and retrieve the next shot, accepting to play the rally for another  three minutes if required. In the end, I think, it's that great humbleness towards the fact that one has to work extremely hard - on and off court - that makes Matthew that so hard-to-beat player. Like Rafael Nadal in Tennis.