England favourite Nick Matthew took his anticipated place in the last 16 of the Commonwealth Games Squash Championship in Delhi – but the world No2 from Sheffield was severely tested by unseeded Malaysian Mohd Nafiizwan Adnan in today’s second round match at the Siri Fort Complex in the Indian capital.
Matthew, competing in his first event since a fever forced his withdrawal from the British Grand Prix in England last month, took the first game – but then found himself 10-7 down in the second.
The England number one, who had a bye in the first round, saved four game balls to take the game – and quickly moved 6-2 up in the third.
But this time it was underdog Adnan that raised his game – the 24-year-old world No52 from Kuala Lumpur winning eight points in a row to reach game-ball, then taking the game after a brief fightback by the Englishman.
Matthew, bidding to win his first Games medal, steadied himself in the fourth and won five straight points from 7-3 to clinch an 11-6, 13-11, 8-11, 11-3 victory after 75 minutes.
“I’ve played him once before – but I knew he’d improved, and that he’d had a good run this morning, whereas it was my first match,” said the relieved Yorkshireman later. “When I nicked that second game, I thought I had it – but, credit to him, he came back and took the third.
“Maybe it will be good to have had bit more of a workout than I expected – it gave me a good chance to get the cobwebs out of my system,” added the 30-year-old when asked to comment on his recent setback.
On being in the Commonwealth Games, Matthew said: “It’s the biggest thing for us – it would be brilliant to win it – but there’s a long way to go yet.”
Adnan, who credited England coach Peter Genever for having raised his game, rued his missed opportunities: “I’m really disappointed that I didn’t win that second game. I had a good chance to hit a winner at 11-10, but was worried about hitting Nick with my racket, so held back.
“But Peter has helped me a lot over the last four years. Some day I’m going to be in the top 20 – but I need to work harder, and be smarter!”
Chris Simpson caused the first upset – and became the first Guernsey player ever to make the men’s last 16 – when he beat New Zealand’s 15th seed Martin Knight 11-8, 11-4, 12-14, 11-3 in 64 minutes.
“The courts were really bouncy and I had to work hard for very point,” said the 23-year-old world No48. “I squandered four match balls in the fourth – but I’d already worked him pretty hard in the earlier games.
“I knew I had a chance against Martin,” Simpson explained. “Although he’s ranked higher than me, I’ve beaten him twice before.
“I was well-supported by a big Guernsey contingent, who were pretty noisy – and that was great.
“The Guernsey squad – across all sports – is really close-knit,” added the Channel Islander. “My best friend Tobin Horton is in the cycling team, and we’ve know each other since we were three!”
Malaysian super star Nicol David began her 2010 Games campaign in stunning style, overcoming Sri Lankan Damindhi Udangawa 11-2, 11-4, 11-2 in just 18 minutes.
The top women’s seed, who celebrated her 50th consecutive month as world number one last month, is firm favourite to win her first gold medal – after finishing a disappointing fourth last time in Melbourne.
“I’ve learned a lot from the last few years, even the last few weeks, and I want to take that energy forward into the Games,” said the 27-year-old from Penang when asked about the pressure on her to win the only major title that has eluded her.
“I felt good on court today. I was trying to get the feel of the glass court. She got a few good shots in and I had to tighten up.
“It’s a real boost having your team mates around you – they give you extra support. Once you’re there, you just want to get in there and get going.”
Alison Waters, one of David’s main rivals from England, took three fewer minutes to earn her place in the last 16, beating Canadian Samantha Cornett 11-2, 11-4, 11-5 in her opening match in 15 minutes.
“I’ve never played Sam before – but it’s quite funny, as I met her years ago when I played one of my first international events in Canada and stayed with her family,” explained the No3 seed afterwards.
“She was 11 years old then, and playing junior squash. But she’s a good player now, and hits the ball really well.
“Being in the Games is a great experience – it was brilliant being involved with last night’s Opening Ceremony. The atmosphere is great – and the England team spirit is brilliant – we all want to do well.
“But it’s good to get the first match out of the way,” added the 26-year-old world No4 from London.
Fellow Londoner Peter Barker also eased into the third round of the men’s competition after defeating Scotland’s Alan Clyne 11-4, 11-2, 11-3.
“To be honest, I was a bit apprehensive about my match – I would have preferred to play Alan on the glass court,” said the third-seeded left-hander after his 40-minute victory. “But I knew I’d have to be there for a long time as he’s so fit.
“But I’m pleased with the way I played – I was happy with 3/0.”
Another left-hander who booked a place in the third round was 13th seed Farhan Mehboob, who beat fellow PakistaniYasir Butt 11-3, 11-3, 11-1.
“I think I played my best squash in that game. I know Yasir’s game well – we practise a lot together – so I was able to exploit his weaknesses,” said the world No31 from Peshawar.
Mehboob will now meet Stewart Boswell after the eighth seed from Australia defeated India’s Harinder Pal Sandhu 11-4, 11-7, 11-5.
“I’m really focussed. I play Stewart Boswell next – and the last time we played was in the Pakistan Open two years ago, when he beat me.
“But I think I am ready for him now – I’m feeling confident!”
For more info, visit the WSF’s dedicated Commonwealth Games site www.cwgsquash.com
Men’s 2nd round:
 Nick Matthew (ENG) bt Mohd Nafiizwan Adnan (MAS) 11-6, 13-11, 8-11, 11-3 (75m)
 Aamir Atlas Khan (PAK) bt Colin Ramasra (TRI) 11-2, 11-4, 11-2 (21m)
 Cameron Pilley (AUS) bt Siddharth Suchde (IND) 11-8, 9-11, 11-6, 11-7 (74m)
 Ryan Cuskelly (AUS) bt Bradley Hindle (MLT) 11-8, 11-8, 6-11, 11-6 (68m)
 Peter Barker (ENG) bt Alan Clyne (SCO) 11-4, 11-2, 11-3 (40m)
 Saurav Ghosal (IND) bt Lyall Paterson (SCO) 11-6, 11-6, 11-7 (28m)
 Stewart Boswell (AUS) bt Harinder Pal Sandhu (IND) 11-4, 11-7, 11-5 (38m)
 Farhan Mehboob (PAK) bt Yasir Butt (PAK) 11-3, 11-3, 11-1 (20m)
 Campbell Grayson (NZL) bt Harry Leitch (SCO) 11-4, 11-5, 11-3 (34m)
 Mohd Azlan Iskandar (MAS) bt Robin Clarke (CAN) 8-11, 11-4, 11-3, 11-4 (48m)
Chris Simpson (GGY) bt  Martin Knight (NZL) 11-8, 11-4, 12-14, 11-3 (64m)
 Daryl Selby (ENG) bt Danish Atlas Khan (PAK) 11-5, 11-4, 11-3 (34m)
 Ong Beng Hee (MAS) bt Lekgotla Mosope (BOT) 11-7, 11-6, 11-3 (37m)
 David Palmer (AUS) bt Andrew McDougall (CAN) 11-3, 11-5, 11-6 (29m)
Shawn Delierre (CAN) bt Michael Kawooya (UGA) 11-5, 11-7, 11-7 (19m)
 James Willstrop (ENG) bt Ivan Yuen (MAS) 11-7, 11-4, 11-4
Women’s 2nd round:
 Nicol David (MAS) bt Damindhi Udangawa (SRI) 11-2, 11-4, 11-2 (18m)
 Joshna Chinappa (IND) bt Sharon Wee (MAS) 11-1, 11-4, 8-11, 11-4 (30m)
 Laura Massaro (ENG) bt Lisa Aitken (SCO) 11-4, 11-2, 11-5 (22m)
 Alana Miller (CAN) bt Anwesha Reddy (IND) 11-3, 11-6, 11-7 (22m)
 Madeline Perry (NIR) bt Sharya Guruge (SRI) 11-3, 11-7, 11-5 (15m)
 Lisa Camilleri (AUS) bt Frania Gillen-Buchert (SCO) 11-5, 11-7, 11-7 (29m)
 Kasey Brown (AUS) bt Miranda Ranieri (CAN) 11-2, 11-4, 4-0 ret. (19m)
 Delia Arnold (MAS) bt Issey Norman-Ross (GGY) 11-5, 11-4, 11-5 (19m)
 Joelle King (NZL) bt Jeannine Cowie (JEY) 11-2, 11-2, 11-4 (18m)
 Donna Urquhart (AUS) bt Nicolette Fernandes (GUY) 12-10, 11-9, 11-7 (32m)
Stephanie Edmison (CAN) bt Surbhi Misra (IND) 11-2, 11-7, 12-10 (21m)
 Alison Waters (ENG) bt Samantha Cornett (CAN) 11-2, 11-4, 11-5 (15m)
 Low Wee Wern (MAS) bt Zoe Barr (NIR) 11-4, 11-3, 11-3 (20m)
 Jaclyn Hawkes (NZL) bt Amelia Pittock (AUS) 11-5, 11-9, 11-7 (25m)
 Sarah Kippax (ENG) bt Anaka Alankamony (IND) 11-7, 11-4, 11-3 (21m)
 Jenny Duncalf (ENG) bt Zephanie Curgenven (GGY) 11-4, 11-3, 11-1 (18m)