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21 Apr 2024

Cuskelly Claims Historic World Series Success At Qatar Classic

5 Nov 2015

Australian Ryan Cuskelly wrote his name into the squash history books in the Qatar Classic by becoming the first qualifier to progress to the semi-finals of a prestigious PSA World Series tournament for 15 years.

In a sensational day of breakthroughs at the Khalifa International Tennis & Squash Complex in Doha, the 28-year-old from New South Wales is joined in the last four by unseeded Egyptian Mazen Hesham.

Cuskelly continued his red hot form this week to come from two games down to record a shock victory over Miguel Angel Rodriguez, the world No.5 from Colombia, that sees him become the first player since Englishman Chris Walker - who made it to the final of the 2001 British Open - to come all the way through the draw as a qualifier.

"I can't believe I'm in the semi-finals of a World Series tournament - it's unreal," said Cuskelly after his 9-11, 7-11, 11-5, 11-5, 11-2 triumph in 88 minutes.

"I don't know how I came back from two love down against someone like him. He's one of the fittest guys on the tour so I'm over the moon with that result and to be in the semi-finals," added the US-based Aussie who who lifted the biggest title of his career just one week ago at the PSA M35 Welaptega Bluenose Squash Classic in Canada.

"When I came here from Canada I was just trying to get through qualification. It was a 24-hour journey and I got here a day before qualifying started so I was tired from the tournament and the travel and I just scraped through. But I've felt better each day and I've played some of my best ever squash in the last few rounds.

"These opportunities don't come often and you never know what will happen tomorrow. I've got nothing to lose so I'll be pushing again as hard as I can."

Cuskelly will face top seed Mohamed Elshorbagy, the world No.1 from Egypt, for a place in the title-decider - while the second semi-final sees Hesham, another last four debutant, face world No.3 Gregory Gaultier. The Frenchman narrowly avoided a shock exit at the hands of Karim Abdel Gawad, coming from 2/0 down against the unseeded Egyptian to keep his title hopes alive.

"Today I was flat and I was struggling and credit to him he was playing well and I couldn't read his game - he was taking it early and putting it in the corner well," said Gaultier.

"At 2/0 Camille (Serme) found some words to wake me up and it clicked in my head and made me wake up and from that point I pushed myself and tried to be more patient and make him work and work even if it was burning inside.

"Once I started to feel confident in that third I knew it would be possible so I just tried to make him work hard. There are days like this when you have to deal with it and get a win so I'm happy, not with my game, but with the fighting spirit I found."

In the women's draw world No.2 Nicol David and world No.3 Laura Massaro edged closer towards setting up a mouth-watering title-decider after coming through their respective quarter-final encounters in dominant fashion against Annie Au and Nouran Gohar, respectively.

Malaysian David in particular was in ruthless fashion as she claimed her 20th straight win over Hong Kong's world No.10 Au in just 23 minutes to keep alive her hopes of defending the Qatar crown she won in 2011, the last time the women's tournament was staged.

"I'm really pleased to win in three especially because Annie is always a dangerous opponent," said David.

"I knew I couldn't give her any opportunities, as a lefty she's very hand to read and is very strong on her forehand so I just attacked when I could and focused on playing my game. I knew I had to close the court well and I'm happy my shots came in.

"Tomorrow in the semis I'm going to go in there and try and step up my game again. I'm so happy to be enjoying being on court, playing my game and being in the semi-finals. If you perform well the results and the rankings will come so my focus is just on performing well and on doing what I need to do and enjoying the atmosphere of being out there."

Qatar Classic image courtesy of www.squashpics.com