After a promising junior
career – in which he represented England in both the European and World Team
Championships and was runner-up in the 1998 European Junior Open and winner
of the 1999 British Junior Open – Nick Matthew exploded into the
senior ranks in 2003 with a string of remarkable successes on the PSA Tour
which saw him leap to a career-high No5 in the Dunlop PSA World Rankings in
Born and raised in
Sheffield in Yorkshire, Matthew enjoyed an excellent run in 2003 – reaching
the quarter-finals of both the English Open (in his home town) and US Open
as a qualifier – thereafter making his senior England debut in the World
Team Championships in Austria – where he was unbeaten as England secured a
bronze medal finish.
The best was yet to come,
however, as Nick claimed two of the biggest scalps of his career in the
Qatar Classic, beating fifth seed Jonathon Power and third seed David Palmer
to reach the semi-finals of the Super Series event.
Matthew continued his
progress in 2004, exceeding his seeding in the Swedish Open to reach the
final after wins over 4th seed Joseph Kneipp and 8th
seed James Willstrop before finishing as runner-up to Egypt’s Karim Darwish.
He pulled off two
sensational victories in the Bermuda Open in March – firstly despatching top
seed Thierry Lincou, the Frenchman who became world No1 in January, then
defeating Egypt’s world champion Amr Shabana to reach the semi-finals.
In April, Nick claimed his
first PSA Tour title for almost two years when he upset second seed Greg
Gaultier in the final of the Windy City Open in Chicago – then the following
month, in his first appearance in the Super Series Finals in London, he
trounced two former world number ones Peter Nicol and Jonathon Power to
reach the semi-finals – eventually taking fourth place after losing to
another former world No1 John White in the play-off for third place.
Matthew celebrated his
first appearance in a Super Series event final in September when he
engineered a major semi-final upset over David Palmer took him through to
the final of the Hong Kong Open. This time Lincou was too strong, winning
in straight games.
As the year reached its
conclusion, injury woes began to hamper Matthew's progress – and, after
reaching the quarter-finals of the Tournament of Champions in February 2005,
his back problems surfaced again as Nick had to concede his match against
Thierry Lincou midway through the third game after winning the opener.