Today’s match was billed as the latest bout of a 15-year-old rivalry between two of the sport’s best players of the current era, Nick Matthew and James Willstrop, both in their late phase of their injury-addled careers. It turned out something of a rout, with Matthew winning 11-7, 12-10, 11-4. (Squash is a sport where you have to win best of five games. You win a game by winning 11 points. You win a point by beating the ball against the wall before it bounces twice, over and over, until your opponent messes up. You can mess up by hitting it so low that it makes a startling sound against metal, or so high that it goes above a side boundary.)
It might initially be hard to grasp why this polite exchange warrants the juicy description in the above tweet—the two players “tear chunks out of each other here #brutal”—but let’s try. Look how quickly they react to their opponent’s shots. Look how closely they guide the ball along the wall, to make it more difficult to hit; how they move around the room with deceptive economy. Look at the strange angles they produce, and how suddenly they change the pace of the point from slow and loopy rails to soft drop shots to little flicked kill shots. Look how much the glassy vessel of a court resembles something some kind of game played by wage slaves in a dystopian Netflix series. And if you’re still struggling, try reading this, one of my favorite sports essays ever. And if that doesn’t work, just eat it.