England’s Nick Matthew is stepping up his recovery from knee surgery but says there is “no way” he can be favourite to win gold at the Commonwealth Games despite being the number one seed for the men’s singles.
The reigning Commonwealth Games squash double gold medallist underwent surgery to repair a meniscus tear in his right knee just four weeks ago but is set to represent England in the men’s singles and doubles events in Glasgow next week.
“I’m feeling good at the minute, but the hardest thing is reigning myself in. I want to go out and play full speed but my physios are having to make sure I progress in the right manner,” Matthew said.
“I’m certainly more confident than I was a week ago that I’m going to make it in top form.”
At the beginning of July, 33-year old Matthew was named the favourite for the singles crown, but whilst the Yorkshireman is still aiming for victory in Glasgow, he does not expect to add to his two gold medals from the 2010 Delhi Games.
Matthew said: “I obviously hope to still win gold but there’s no way that I can be the favourite having not played for this amount of time.
“If they want to consider me the favourite that’s up to them, but I certainly won’t be in my own mind, so that will take the pressure off.”
The Sheffield star’s preparation for Glasgow has not been ideal but Matthew is hoping his previous Commonwealth Games experience in Melbourne and Delhi can help him in Scotland.
“This is my third Games, I’m on to the experienced end of things now. I’ve got a lot of experience and it’s about time I used it,” he added.
With Matthew playing down his chances of victory in Glasgow, he claims a win would be the highlight of an illustrious career which includes three World Championship titles along with his two gold medals.
“To win gold would blow all my other achievements out of the water, especially because of the manner it would happen. But I can’t allow myself to think like that, I’m still on ground level and I’ve got a lot of floors to negotiate before I get there,” he said.
Squash had a promising Olympic bid rejected last year as wrestling was reinstated for the 2020 Games in Tokyo. But with another bid expected for the 2024 Olympics, Matthew believes the Commonwealth Games provides squash with the opportunity to illustrate its Olympic suitability.
“The Commonwealth Games puts squash on a platform, we can showcase all of the things that we said we can offer as a sport on an Olympic stage.
“It gives us a chance to deliver on those promises. World Championships and other major tournaments do as well, but there are a lot more eyes on the Commonwealth Games.”