8:11 am
27 May 2018

Cuskelly Conquers World Champion Elshorbagy In Major ToC Upset

22 Jan 2018

Australian Ryan Cuskelly pulled off one of the biggest wins of his career when he knocked World Champion Mohamed Elshorbagy out of the 2018 JP Morgan Tournament of Champions in a thrilling second round battle on day four of the PSA World Series event taking place at Grand Central Terminal in New York.

Coming into the match, the Egyptian had won 28 of his past 30 matches on the PSA World Tour - including a run of 21 victories that saw him collect four titles in a row, including December's World Championship, to close the gap on Gregory Gaultier at the top of the World Rankings.

But the second seed found himself out-muscled and out-hustled by Cuskelly in an absorbing encounter as the Australian who has called New York home for almost a decade produced one of his best ever displays throughout a match of the highest calibre, coming through a mammoth 90-minute encounter to beat Elshorbagy for the first time in a huge upset.

"That's probably the biggest win of my career," said Cuskelly afterwards.

"And winning here in New York in front of family and friends makes it extra special. My wife was trying to scout tickets for the day to get everyone in, so I'm really happy to pull the win off and I have to thank everyone for the great support I had today.

"I came in today with a game plan and tried to vary the pace and be aggressive when I could and just hang in there when he got on a roll. I managed to get some errors out of him and hit my winners as well so I'm really happy."

Cuskelly will line up against another Egyptian, world No.7 Tarek Momen, for a place in the semi-finals after Momen came through in straight games to beat world No.10 Diego Elias. The Peruvian was less than 100% after suffering an injury scare against England's Declan James in the first round.

Three-time winner Ramy Ashour also booked his last eight berth after the world No.14 dispatched New Zealand's Paul Coll, ranked three places higher, in four games.

The Egyptian maverick, who is now unbeaten in 12 matches at Grand Central Terminal after winning the event on his last two appearances in 2011 and 2013, was in sublime form in the first game and, after conceding the second game to Coll, had to dig in before eventually completing an 11-4, 7-11, 11-7, 11-4 victory.

"I don't know how it looks from the outside, but when I watch us playing I see it as very simple movement and a very simple kind of pace, but you have no idea how many details are in there," said Ashour.

"There's so much happening on that court, there's so much energy, so many thoughts, different vibes and strategies. My energy affects his energy and the way he hits the ball affects the way I hit the ball. That's why it's a brilliant sport and why I love it so much."

Ashour will take on world No.3 Ali Farag in an enticing quarter-final fixture after a polished performance from Farag saw him oust 2015 semi-finalist Miguel Angel Rodriguez in a 3/0 scoreline.

In the women's draw, former world No.6 Amanda Sobhy - who became the first American-born woman ever to reach the final of this tournament back in 2016 - capped her return from a 10-month injury absence with a 3/1 victory over Australia's 2007 World Champion Rachael Grinham.

Sobhy ruptured her Achilles while match-ball up against compatriot Olivia Blatchford in the semi-finals of the Ciudad de Floridablanca last March, enforcing a gruelling period of rehabilitation, but the Harvard graduate made a successful comeback in front of her home fans.

""It feels good to be back," said 24-year-old Sobhy after her win over legend Grinham on the eve of her 41st birthday.

"When you're out as long as I was, just being on court is a huge accomplishment. I've waited for so long and I got pushed, it was my first match and it wasn't easy.

"I'm relieved to win but I'm also really happy to be back on Tour. She has an impeccable front court game and that tested out my little leg. I'm happy that I could get the majority of her balls and maybe for my next match I'll be slightly better."

Sobhy will take on US Open champion Nour El Tayeb after she dismantled India's world No.20 Dipika Pallikal Karthik in just 18 minutes - while defending champion Camille Serme got her tournament up and running with a comfortable victory over Sobhy's younger sister, Sabrina.

"I saw Sabrina play against Coline (Aumard) a few days ago and knew she would be dangerous today," said Serme.

"I love coming back to New York, it's so much fun to be playing here and I want to enjoy every minute of it and spend as much time on that court as I can."

Serme will take on Australia's Donna Urquhart for a place in the quarter-finals after the unseeded Australian overcame an injured Annie Au, while 2014 champion Nicol David and New Zealand's Joelle King will go head-to-head after respective wins over Samantha Cornett and Heba El Torky.

World Champion Raneem El Welily was also in action and recovered from a game down to defeat former world No.2 Jenny Duncalf - despite rolling her ankle painfully at the end of the fourth game - and she will meet world No.12 Tesni Evans in the next round, with Evans seeing off World Junior Champion Hania El Hammamy.