INTERVIEW by ALAN THATCHER
1: Simon, welcome back to Canary Wharf. You have enjoyed a
fantastic start to 2018, winning the Tournament of Champions,
finishing runner-up in the Swedish Open and reaching the
semi-finals in Chicago. What are you doing differently this
I donít think I am doing anything different, really. I havenít
changed anything technically. I work hard with my coaches, as
per usual, and I am trying to play each match as it comes. In
New York I enjoyed each and every match, point by point and
enjoyed the whole experience.
2: How did the German media respond to your victory in New
I was very pleased to see some good coverage back home. In the
local papers in Paderborn it was huge, but I was pleased to see
the story picked up several national papers and the online
publication Sport Bild.
The story also got one whole minute on our national TV channel
and that was great. The response on social media was crazy.
There were so many kind messages and I wanted to write everyone
and say Thank You.
3: I remember interviewing Thierry Lincou at the ToC many
years ago, in the snow in Times Square, and he was talking about
overcoming mental barriers. That evening he beat Jonathon Power
for the first time and it was a major step on his path to
becoming world champion. How many mental barriers do you think
you have broken through in the past few months, and would you
like to describe them?
In a way, beating Marwan ElShorbagy in Qatar in November was a
similar kind of moment for me. Beating Gregory Gaultier in the
World Series Fianls was another significant result but that was
best of three so possibly did not have the same impact.
However, these results can only boost your confidence going
forward. That certainly helped me as I prepared for the
Tournament of Champions and I am trying to maintain that mindset
with every new tournament.
4: With an increase in prize money, this is our strongest
Canary Wharf draw for many years. How much have you been looking
forward to playing in the event?
Itís a tournament I always look forward to a lot. I have played
probably eight or nine times and that shows my passion for both
London and Canary Wharf. It has been a busy time of year with so
many tournaments back to back, with Sweden, Chicago and Canary
Wharf so close together.
5: With Nick Matthew sadly forced to withdraw with a
hamstring injury, the top four seeds are all Egyptians. What do
you think other nations can learn from this wave of Egyptian
So many players are coming through from their junior set-up and
having such big numbers they are pushing each other. In terms of
numbers, if you have maybe a thousand players competing in a
system you will have more coming through than if you only have
20 or so.
That kind of competition can only be inspirational and, sadly
for the rest of the world, there is no end in sight. Every day
there seem to be new juniors coming through from Egypt.
6: Itís a shame that the Canary Wharf crowd wonít be able
to say a proper farewell to Nick in his farewell season on the
PSA Tour. How much has he influenced our career?
Nick has been around for so many years and is still producing
very competitive squash at the age of 37. I wish I will still be
able to move and be injury free when I am that age.
Itís all down to Nickís professional approach. He is very
disciplined in everything he does and really is the ultimate
That shows his class, still being able to compete at the level
beyond the age of 35. I have got to meet him lots of times, on
and off court, and have the utmost respect for everything he has
Interestingly, after my experience in New York, I respect the
top four guys in the world even more. I was so full of emotion
after winning the ToC that it was difficult to go back to zero
to start the next tournament.
It made me think a lot about how the top guys keep getting
results back to back and how they must deal with the emotional
highs and lows.
7: Now, time to get personal. After the Windy City
Open, your proposed to your girlfriend in Chicago and she
accepted! Congratulations from all of us at Canary Wharf. Who is
this lucky lady and what can you tell us about her?
Vivien is from Paderborn. Amazingly, we met in Chicago three
years ago. She had finished her studies and was working over
there as an au pair and learning the language. I proposed to her
in the Hancock Tower, which was where we met three years ago!
8: Will she be joining you in London this week?
Sadly, no. She will be at work back home in Paderborn. We have
lived together for the past two years and she works as a PA to
one of my sponsors, Ralf Eckel, whose company is called Zaun
Kreisel. You can see the name on my shirts.
9: How did you feel when you saw that you had been
drawn against your best buddy Nic Mueller in the first round?
A: That came as no surprise! Itís funny how that works in
squash, you make the main draw then get paired against your best
friend or someone from the same country.
I said to Nic before the qualifying competition ďYou will make
the main draw and we will play each other in the first round Ė
and thatís what happened!Ē After Chicago I was mentally and
physically prepared to play Nic. He is deservedly back in the
world top 20.
10: What are your thoughts on the best-of-three format
being used in the early rounds at Canary Wharf this year?
A: I like it. Playing best of three, my heart rate was up right
from the start. Itís a very intense kind of squash, the same as
in Dubai last summer. There is no waiting.
You have to go straight on to the attack. It will be interesting
to see how it pans out. I imagine there will be a lot of 50-60
11: Who are your main sponsors these days? Feel free to
give them all a mention.
A: My main sponsors are the DRS Group. They are a major car
repair company and the guys love coming to tournaments. Danny
and Martin used to play Bundesliga and love coming to the PSA
They are based in Hamburg and are really nice guys. They have
been so helpful to me in so many ways and I am so happy that
they are in the team with me. Oliver are my racket and equipment
sponsors and have been with me for 10 years.
These long-term relationships are very important to me, to stick
together and build a team. Everyone looks after me so well and I
would like to mention all of my other sponsors, Lightpower,
FlyerAlarm, Deutsche Sporthlife and Zaun Kreisel, who I
Thank you, Simon. Good luck this evening.
11 Points with Simon,
on the BLOG
11 Points with Simon,
on the BLOG