QATAR’S Abdullah Al Tamimi lost the battle, but won the hearts for sure.
The ASPIRE Academy product was just two points away from beating England’s three-time world champion Nick Matthew in the opening round before the latter drew all his 18 years of professional experience on the Professional Squash Association (PSA) Circuit to survive the scare.
The 9-11, 8-11, 11-9, 12-10, 9-11 defeat to 2009 Qatar Classic champion Matthew may be heartbreaking, but it would definitely do a world of good for Al Tamimi.
Egged on by a vociferous home crowd, the 21-year-old came all guns blazing after losing the first two games and took the match to the decider, where he was leading 9-5 at one stage.
It all came down to better handling of nerves and Matthew outwitted Al Tamimi.
“It was always going to be tough playing Nick Matthew. I was very nervous at the start. I mishit the ball so many times in the beginning. He put me under so much pressure at the start, but gradually I found my shots. In the final game, when I was 9-5 up, I thought I had already won and tried to win the points too quickly. I wish I had Nick’s experience there,” said Al Tamimi.
Given a wild-card entry for the tournament, Al Tamimi made most of the opportunity and banked on the positives.
“Nick is a three-time world champion. I guess taking him to five games will give me a lot of confidence for my next tournaments, and the rest of the season and hopefully I’ll be able to move up in the standings,” added Al Tamimi, ranked 39th on the PSA Tour.