Quarter-finals of the 2017 Men's World Team Championship starts at noon. In Salle Vallier venue, England will face India. Follow the action on this page.
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ENGLAND VS INDIA
#1 : Nick Matthew 3-2 Saurav Ghosal (11-6, 6-11, 11-7, 10-12, 11-9) 1h16
#3 : Daryl Selby 3-0 Harinder Pal Singh Sandhu (11-2,11-4,11-2) 37min
#2 : James Willstrop 2-1 Vikram Malhotra (11-4, 9-11, 11-8) 26 min
Although both teams had never met before in the MWTC, England were obviously the hot favourites to win the encounter. After a disappointing start losing to Malaysia in the early stages of the competition, India were delighted to be in the last 8 and reached their ranking position successfully. As for England, they had won all of their matches but three-time world champion, Nick Matthew struggled against Muller and had to come back from 2-0 down to win his quarter-final match. Even though he was a clear favourite having never conceeded a match to Ghosal, he needed to be back on form for today’s match against the Indian.
This is what the crowd had come to see – amazing squash at its best. Forgetting his shaky start yesterday, Matthew took the first game 11-6. Ghosal fought back in the second and took command when Matthew hit a few tins in succession – 11-7 for Ghosal. A well-fought third game went to Mathew after some great rallies and creative squash from both players. After being in the lead for most of the fourth, Ghosal clinched the game with some spectacular squash from both parties. At 6-6 in the decider, it could have been anyone’s game. However, experience paid off and Matthew won getting his team off to a good start : 1-0 to England.
Comments from an entertaining Nick Matthew concerning his training and physical condition:
« It’s very different now cos I’m a little bit slow so I have to use my brain a little more. Sometimes, I forget I’m older and I try to play like I did years ago. I have to stop and think about how I’m going to play. Experience is one of my assets and winning one or two lucky points at the end was to my advantage. I did right to use my review because then it came in very useful at the end of the match. ».
Further comments from a more serious Nick after winning his match :
« Quite a marathon again today. I was better than yesterday. I wasn’t good mentally in the match against Muller but today I did well. I felt I played a great match. In the end, it all came down to experience and I managed to play one or two big points really well. That’s what it finally comes down to in any event but especially in the teams event. I had to find that extra ten per cent. I wanted to get the team off to a good start. At the beginning of the fifth, I was thinking more about the team and not my tactics. I had to get refocused but it was a really close game today. »
The next match between Daryl Selby and Harinder Pal Singh Sandhu was a much quicker affair : 11-2, 11-2, 11-4. James Willstrop completed the winning streak for England with a quick victory over Vikram Malhorta. 3-0 for England.
Comments from James after the match:
« Our main objective here is to win the title and not to concern ourselves with other external events. We’re going to try and do our best. We all know how each other plays. We’ve been playing for years. This team thing, it’s a really different event. All sorts of things come into it. There’s a different slant on everything. We’ve already won the title so we know we can do it. All the teams are strong and so it’s hard from now on. Some teams are luckier than others. It’s a question of being on form on the day. We’re all happy to be here. I must say that the team events here in France are great and the public love it ! They get behind the teams. It’s fantastic for the players. In Mulhouse, the French were great to us. Even though we had beaten the French team, they were so nice to us after. They all stood up when we walked in the dining room. It was a memorable moment and we often talk about it together. We’ve never forgotten how people were so generous to us. The atmosphere was quite something. »
Comments from David Campion, English coach, after the match:
« The WTMC is always a very special event for us all. It brings out the best in our players. They always pull out their best levels. Nick’s obviously in his twilight years. As he said earlier, he feels he’s slowing down a little but he’s still hanging in there. It’s tremendous what he’s doing. At 37, to be producing squash of that level is quite incredible. It was a high quality match but we’re highly ambitious about getting to the final here. It’s the same three players that we’re in Mulhouse in 2013 so it’s quite special that way. We beat France and Egypt then so the players have got the pedigree and I’m sure they can make it. It’s just a question of being into it on the day. It’s going to be highly contested. The match tomorrow is going to be tough whether it be Australia or New Zealand so we’ll just prepare the best we can. »
In tomorrow’s semi-finals, England will meet the winner of the trans-tasman confrontation to be played Modern Squash later today.
Photo galleries (Nathalie Goossens / Philippe Rochais)