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Ananova

12/07/2010
DAILY TELEGRAPH REPORTS

Nicol Admires Matthew’s Achievements

By Rod Gilmour

For Inverurie-born Peter Nicol, Nick Matthew's rise to the top bears similarities for a player who became Britain's first world No 1 in 1998, then playing under the Scottish flag.

Matthew became England's second player to top the world rankings after the Yorkshireman finally landed the coveted position in June's rankings. Matthew could be heralded as the third home player (Lee Beachill became world no.1 in October 2004) if you include Nicol, but who's asking anyway?
 
Nicol said: "I have really admired Nick’s continual improvement in all areas and his determination to succeed. There's no doubt about it that both of these qualities are necessary to achieve No 1.
 
"The ferocity of his volleying and the pressure he exerts on his opponents is immense and his movement in and out of the front corners is now very strong.
 
"The world tour is so wide open now and we have seen a handful of players battling out to become No 1 over the last year, Nick included. When I was playing there were only two or three players capable of achieving top spot at any one time."
 
Nicol caused controversy in 2001 when he defected to England after Scottish Squash, the national governing body, failed to give him financial support to keep his place as one of the world's best players.
 
By taking advantage of England Squash's world-class performance programme, he won six tour titles in his first year and regained the world No 1 spot in 2002.
 
"The only way I saw myself returning to the top spot and staying there for any amount of time was to work with England Squash’s Performance Programme," Nicol said.
 
"An aspect the Association should be proud of is that Matthew has come through the system from the beginning and prospered under the squash coaches, physiotherapists, nutritionists, video analysts and strength and conditioning coaches."
 
Nicol spent close to 20 years living in London – he qualified to play for England under the residency rule – but returned north of the border last summer to coach local talent at the club which bears his name in Westhill, Aberdeen.
 
Earlier this year Nicol resigned as a Professional Squash Association board director to focus on other projects. Nicol, who retired in 2006, joined the men's tour body in October 2008 with current chairman Ziad Al-Turki, the UK-based businessman who has changed the game's fortunes in recent years.
 
The Scot, though, has remained busy. A legends tour with long-time rival Jonathon Power beckons while he will continue to promote the game through what Nicol terms as "increased tournament exposure."
 
The same fate nearly befell Matthew, who has spent only seven months outside the top 10 since 2004, when a hectic tournament schedule caused a major injury to his right shoulder in 2008 and he was subsequently out of action for eight months.

Fast forward to 2010 and David Pearson, the long-time national coach, recalled similar attributes to when Nicol climbed to the top of the sport. He said: "Peter Nicol [who became world No 1 on his 25th birthday] was the only player to have similar honesty behind him."

Will that honestly see Matthew hold top spot for as long as Nicol's combined total of 60 months?

 

 

   

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