Australian No.2 Ryan Cuskelly upset defending champion Ali Farag to
claim The Motor City Open presented by The Suburban Collection
championship in a 3-1 triumph Monday (January 31) night at the
Birmingham Athletic Club.
In his ninth year participating in the Motor City Open, Cuskelly
advanced to the semi-finals for the very first time, before taking that
accomplishment two steps further in his upset of World No.7 Farag,
claiming the biggest win of his career in the process.
The night didn't start well for Cuskelly, as Farag came out with
pinpoint precision in a dominant first game.
Things took a dramatic shift in the second game, however, as Cuskelly
chased down ball after ball and the pace of the match started to pick
up. The 29-year-old Australian got out to a 3-0 lead before Farag took
the next four points. Cuskelly answered with a five-point run when he
got Farag on the move and forced the young Egyptian into hitting tough
shots into the tin.
Cuskelly owned the third much like the second, going on a five-point run
to create separation and move one game away from the title.
The fourth game was a show that had the capacity crowd at the BAC on the
edge of their seats. Farag appeared to regain his steady form, getting
out to a 9-4 lead. At that point, Cuskelly was just trying to make sure
he would go into the fifth with a bit of momentum.
As things got tighter and Cuskelly cut Farag's lead to 7-9, and then
8-9, it became apparent that the momentum had swung. Cuskelly dove on
the floor to save the next point, hitting a winner after he got to his
feet and tying things up.
Farag then found the tin again to give Cuskelly match point, and the
longtime Motor City Open competitor was finally able to call himself
champion when he hit a beautiful winner to claim the match.
“I'm pretty excited to win my biggest title in my favourite tournament
on the Tour,” Cuskelly said.
“I always told the guys here I'd win it someday, but I didn't expect it
to be this year.
“I was up 4-2 [in the fifth] and I thought about the finish line, which
“Next minute I was down 9-4 and I just tried to get back to playing
normal squash for the next game.
“It's unbelievable. I lost in qualification for years, but I did a lot
of hard training in December and it paid off.”
Farag said: “He stepped it up. I couldn't find the right balance between
being aggressive and playing smart. Every time I would try to be
aggressive, I would hit the tin.
Any hopes of home success at the 2017 Motor City Open presented by the
Suburban Collection were dashed last night as all three Team USA players
were sent packing in the final round of qualifictaion.
Todd Harrity, Chris Hanson and Christoper Gordon all found themselves on
the wrong side of the scoreline as Abdulla Mohd Al Tamimi, Campbell
Grayson and Ivan Yuen emerged victorious to join Raphael Kandra in the
Main Draw of the PSA M70 event taking place at the Birmingham Athletic
It was Tamimi who had the toughest road to the Main Draw. After cruising
through his first two games with Todd Harrity, Tamimi started to feel a
sharp pain in his right shin. Harrity pounced on his wounded opponent,
picking up games three and four to set up a decisive fifth, but he
couldn’t see it through as Tamimi stood strong in the end.
“The last couple of days my shins have really started hurting,” Tamimi
said. “I needed a really good start because I knew as the match goes on
that I’m going to start feeling it. He picked that up and started
opening up the court.”
“It’s not an injury that’s going to stop me. It’s just pain. If you push
100 percent, even if it’s killing you, it’s not going to be a big
injury. I got my confidence back in the fifth and I’m really happy to
Tamimi will face hard-hitting ‘Hammer of Thor’ Omar Mosaad of Egypt, on
Friday evening while in the only other match to go beyond three games it
was Yuen who was able to stave off a strong effort from Gordon.
Gordon powered his way to an 11-8 win in the first game, as Yuen seemed
to be concentrating a little too much on the officiating at the outset,
but the young Malaysian regained his composure in the second and
controlled proceedings from then on.
“I’ve been through a lot with the referees,” Yuen said. “I told myself
to forget it and just move forward.
“I just had to fight every point and keep believing I could do it. I
came all the way here from Maylaysia and I’m not ready to be done yet.”
For his efforts, Yuen earns a date with second-seeded Marwan ElShorbagy
with the third USA dream killer, Grayson, doing Hanson 3-0 to set up his
first round encounter with Ryan Cuskelly.