Lucky number nine for Cuskelly
FORMER Evans Head resident Ryan Cuskelly claimed one of the biggest wins of his career at the Suburban Collection Motor City Open at Detroit in the United States.
It was the ninth time he had competed at the $70,000 (US) event and he beat third seed and defending champion Ali Farag 4-11 11-5 11-5 11-9 in the final.
Cuskelly, 29, made his first appearance in a final after battling past Kiwi qualifier Campbell Grayson, former World No 3 Omar Mosaad and South Africa's Stephen Coppinger in the earlier rounds.
"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.
"It's unbelievable. I lost in qualification for years, but I did a lot of hard training in December and it paid off.”
It has been a busy start to the year for Cuskelly with his eyes set on the Professional Squash Association Dubai World Series in June.
He had a breakout year in 2015 where he reached the semi-finals of the Qatar Classic after winning the $35,000 Bluenose Classic in Canada.
It made him the first men's player in 15 years to come through qualification and progress to the semis of a PSA World Series Tournament.
"I took December off with a conscious view on trying to perform well over the next four months,” Cuskelly said.
"I've always been a hard trainer, but I think coming from Australia makes it a little harder at the moment.
"We don't have the depth of players on a par to a country like Egypt, where they have so many top quality players to train with on a regular basis.
"So I think it takes our guys a little longer to move up the rankings and develop.”
Egyptian star Ali Farag was full of praise for Cuskelly after the Motor City Open final.
The tournament was thrown wide open after Egyptian world No 1 Mohamed El Shorbagy was defeated by unseeded Mexican Cesar Salazar.
"He stepped it up. I couldn't find the right balance between being aggressive and playing smart,” Farag said.
"He put too much pressure on me.”