SHENFIELD squash star Peter Barker lost out in the semi-final of the Allam British Open on Saturday to the eventual winner Nick Matthew.
Having shocked world number three Gregory Gaultier in an epic quarter-final the night before a tired Barker, 28, ran out of steam in his last four encounter.
"It was a good week now I've had a chance to reflect," he said.
"I don't think I have trained harder for a competition in my life so to get the reward of beating Gaultier in the quarter-finals was great.
"I think the match took its toll emotionally and was a little flat in the semis versus a tactically sharp Nick Matthew.
"It was a good way to finish the season though at a career high of world number six.
"I feel I have a great platform now to crack the top five."
It was always going to be a tough task for Barker at the O2 Arena, particularly when you consider he's lost 20 of his last 21 meetings against Matthew – his 11pm finish the night before certainly didn't help.
Matthew, the new world number one, blew Barker away in straight games with a dominant display in both volley drops and physical brutality, eventually winning 11/5, 11/8, 11/6.
The real triumph for Barker though had come the night before against Gaultier, the talented Frenchman.
It was a long an tense match with Barker coming from 2/1 down to beat the second seed and ensure an English men's finalist.
Matthew went on to defeat Ramy Ashour 3-0 to claim his third British Open title.
In the first round of the tournament Ashour had dispensed Brentwood's Daryl Selby.
Selby, ranked world number nine, just missed out on a seeding and was left with the unenviable task of facing the World number four.
Despite a spirited challenge, including winning the first game, Selby struggled to handle the mercurial Egyptian.
Selby led the fourth, and had several game balls before Ashour finally took it 16/14 with a nick at the back of the court which only added to his frustration.
He said: "It was an unfortunate draw really. I would have felt that I'd have had a massive chance against anyone else and I've spoken to a lot of people who thought the match should have been a semi-final and not a first round match given the quality of squash.
"It was a really, really close match and if I could have won the fourth game then anything could have happened."