Nick Matthew won the squash world championship on Sunday for the third time in four years, inflicting another near miss on Gregory Gaultier in a five-game thriller in Manchester.
Matthew took the opening two games 11-9 11-9 but Gaultier fought back 13-11 11-7 to level the final, before the Englishman took the fifth 11-2.
It was the fourth time the Frenchman had lost in a world final, as he sought to emulate the 2004 achievement of Thierry Lincou, the only Frenchman to have won the world title.
For Matthew, aged 33, it was a reward for longevity and persistence.
“I never thought I would see an English crowd as partisan as the French but tonight they were,” Matthew said. “They really pushed me on.
“I want to say to Greg – he’s younger than me (30) and his time will come.
“I dread to think of the place Greg’s in now – I feel sorry for him,” Matthew said. “But for me, I can’t imagine anything better than this.”
Gaultier pronounced himself “very, very disappointed”.
“I really thought I would win this time and it is very hard to take.”
It had nevertheless looked as though the prize might be slipping away from the fourth-seeded Yorkshireman when Gaultier first saved a match point at 11-10 in the third game and then erupted into his creative best in the fourth.
Then when it seemed the world No.2 would push through to become only the third man to win the world title from two games down, he began to struggle with cramp in the fourth game.
Although Gaultier somehow battled through to a decider, his movement was almost gone and Matthew trampled through the fifth game in only seven minutes, with Gaultier unable to chase down the last few balls.
Gaultier will be ruing a schedule which put him on last each evening, making it impossible to get to sleep before 3am (local time).
This was followed by Matthew getting the briefest of semi-finals on Saturday when defending champion Ramy Ashour retired through injury.