Reigning champion Nick Matthew has been in fine form ahead of the 2015 Canary Wharf Squash Classic, writes Alan Thatcher.

Matthew, a three-time world champion, has been busy adding to his trophy haul since claiming the Commonwealth Games gold medal in Glasgow in August.

The super-fit 34-year-old from Sheffield won the British Grand Prix in Manchester in December, and then broke the record books by winning a seventh national title at the same venue a month ago before lifting the Swedish Open title for a fifth time.

He then returned to peak form to beat the current world No.1, Egyptian Mohamed Elshorbagy, in straight games of the Windy City Open in Chicago.

Now he is after a fifth Canary Wharf success after beating long-time rival James Willstrop in last year's final to draw level at four titles apiece.

Every ticket sold out before Christmas, and Matthew always enjoys playing in front of a full-house crowd at the imposing East Wintergarden venue in Bank Street.

He said: "It's definitely one of the best tournaments in the world and the players always love the big, noisy crowds.

"It's like a home match for the two Essex boys, my England team-mates Peter Barker and Daryl Selby, and the noise levels always go up a notch when those two are on court."

Matthew shows no signs of easing off and added: "As you get older it's a question of training smarter, not harder, and taking more care when you plan your tournament schedule so that you can peak for major events.

"After Canary Wharf I will have my sights on the British Open in Hull in May.

"I want to win every tournament I enter and it's a case of making sure that you are in the best possible shape each time."

Matthew was in outstanding form in Chicago and took out both of his England team-mates Selby and Barker on his way to reaching the final.

In the imposing Cathedral Hall venue, he produced a phenomenal performance of pace and precision, making only two errors as he destroyed the 23-year-old Elshorbagy 11-7, 11-2, 11-7 in 62 minutes.

He said: "I'm really enjoying my squash at the minute. I guess I'm in the twilight of my career - the end is closer than the beginning - but I managed to take my chance against someone who has been in incredible form recently.

"You always go into a match with a game plan but it's another thing being able to execute it against someone like Mohamed because he plays at such a fast pace and takes away your thinking time.

"But I felt I played well when under pressure today. I was patient and picked my times to attack well and I'm just delighted to get another World Series win."

At Canary Wharf, he faces wild card Eddie Charlton, a regular training partner, in the first round.
No.2 seed Barker faces a qualifier in the first round but former world No.1 Willstrop comes into the tournament as No.5 seed in the bottom half of the draw after missing most of the season while recovering from a hip operation.

The First Round draw:

2015 Canary Wharf Classic (March 23-27):
[1] Nick Matthew (ENG) v [WC] Eddie Charlton (ENG)
Adrian Waller (ENG) v [8] Fares Dessouki (EGY)
[6] Daryl Selby (ENG) v [Qualifier]
Laurens Jan Anjema (NED) v [3] Borja Golan (ESP)
[4] Simon Rösner (GER) v [Qualifier]
[Qualifier] v [5] James Willstrop (ENG)
[7] Max Lee (HKG) v Mazen Hesham (EGY)
[Qualifier] v [2] Peter Barker (ENG)