At stake in tonight’s dream final of the JP Morgan Tournament of Champions in New York between top-seeded Englishmen Nick Matthew (pic le) and James Willstrop will not just be the title of the 1st PSA World Series event of the year, but also the world number one ranking in February.
Matthew, who topped the world rankings throughout 2011, battled to a 75-minute 4-game win over Frenchman Greg Gaultier (pic ri) – while in the earlier semi-final Willstrop, who succeeded his compatriot as world No1 this month, coasted to his 4th successive straight games success at Grand Central Terminal by beating England team-mate Daryl Selby 11-2, 11-3, 11-3 in just 25 minutes.
There will be more than the Tournament to Champions title on the line when the two Englishmen step on court for the final: Matthew, a 3 time finalist, would very much like to take the trophy for the first time. “I’d certainly like to have my picture be added to the gallery of champions,” said top seed, referring to the portraits of the tournament’s titleholders that line the entrance to the venue’s Champions/VIP lounge.
The world number one ranking will also be at stake. “It’s a motivator,” said Willstrop. “But when you get to play in front so many people for the Tournament of Champions title, what more do you need?”
The final will be the 1st time the rivals have faced each other since October last year – since when Willstrop ran off 3 PSA World Series titles in a row and went on to succeed Matthew at the top of the world rankings. But Matthew boasts a formidable 19-8 career head-to-head PSA Tour record over Willstrop – and an unbroken winning streak of 12 matches since December 2007.