As much as I marvel at Ramy Ashour's on court brilliance and his amazing early success , Nick Matthew, soon-to-attain the world number 1 PSA spot, is an inspiration to every athlete at any level. This unassuming young man has come back from serious injuries, has devoted his life to squash and reaching a pinnacle so few attain. He's been on the tour for 12 years, where most players stay half that time on the tour. Imagine all the years of qualifiers, imagine all the years climbing ever so slowing through the ranks, imagine the thousands of hours travelling from city to city, the countless hours of training and dedication, the huge expectations placed on himself...but most of all imagine coming back on two occassions from serious injuries to in some ways start part of the journey to the top over again.
I have watched him in both defeat and victory he is one and the same, perhaps the truest test of any great athlete. They seem to just relish the game. He is fierce, intense, but ever so gracious and seems almost in awe of his opponents, especially Ramy. This comes from a genuine respect for his opponents' talents and an almost gracious appreciation for an opponent who can bring out the best in his game.
I wrote 6 months ago he'd be number 1 by March (not too far off), he is my favorite player and has been for some time. But my son reminded me 6 years ago at the TOC when after a Matthew match he went up to him for an autograph (I asked him where was that autograph since I avidly collect everything past and present related to squash -- we'll look a bit harder for it now) and Beth Rasin, tournament magician, was there. Beth asked my then 14 year old son if he thought Nick Mattew would be number 1 someday, my son answered her emphatically "yes"! My son's point was he discovered Matthew long before I did and knew back then he'd be number 1 someday.
So I want to go on record here that Nicolas Muller will be number 1 within 5 years and if it isn't in 5 years, maybe 10 years. And as my son aspires to whatever level he will achieve in squash, should he or Muller ever get discouraged, I advise them to just think of Nick Matthew -- 12 years before reaching the top of the squash world -- the best place in the entire universe.