Aussie qualifier beats Rodriguez from 0-2 down in Qatar stunner
By NATHAN CLARKE in Doha
Australian Ryan Cuskelly wrote his name into the squash history books in Doha today (Nov 4) by becoming the first male player since 2001 to come through qualification and progress all the way to the semi-finals of a prestigious PSA World Series tournament to join fellow last four debutant Mazen Hesham in the line-up for the penultimate day of action at the 2015 Qatar Classic.
The 28-year-old Cuskelly continued his recent red-hot form in Doha to come from two-games down to record an unlikely victory over World No.5 Miguel Angel Rodriguez that sees him become the first player since Englishman Chris Waker, who made it to the final of the 2001 British Open, to come all the way through the draw.
“I can’t believe I’m in the semi-finals of a World Series tournament – it’s unreal,” said Cuskelly, who lifted the biggest title of his career just one week ago at the PSA M35 Welaptega Bluenose Squash Classic in Canada.
“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.
“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 World No.1 Mohamed Elshorbagy for a place in the title-decider while the second semi-final sees another last four debutant, Egyptian Mazen Hesham, 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 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.
David in particular was in ruthless fashion as she dismissed 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 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.”
2015 Qatar Classic, PSA World Series, Doha, Qatar.
Results – Men’s Quarter-finals:
 Mohamed Elshorbagy (EGY) bt Max Lee (HKG) 3-0: 14-12, 11-7, 11-7 (36m)
[Q] Ryan Cuskelly (AUS) bt  Miguel Angel Rodriguez (COL) 3-2: 9-11, 7-11, 11-5, 11-5, 11-2 (88m)
Mazen Hesham (EGY) bt [Q] Ali Farag (EGY) 3-0: 11-8, 12-10, 11-8 (42m)
 Gregory Gaultier (FRA) bt Karim Abdel Gawad (EGY) 3-2: 7-11, 6-11, 11-4, 11-7, 11-6 (63m)
 Mohamed Elshorbagy (EGY) v [Q] Ryan Cuskelly (AUS)
Mazen Hesham (EGY) v  Gregory Gaultier (FRA)
Results – Women’s Quarter-finals:
 Omneya Abdel Kawy (EGY) bt Joshana Chinappa (IND) 3-2: 11-8, 9-11, 7-11, 12-10, 11-6 (50m)
 Laura Massaro (ENG) bt  Nouran Gohar (EGY) 3-1: 11-8, 11-8, 8-11, 11-6 (43m)
 Nour El Sherbini (EGY) bt  Camille Serme (FRA) 3-1: 13-11, 8-11, 11-8, 11-8 (52m)
 Nicol David (MAS) bt  Annie Au (HKG) 3-0: 11-7, 11-4, 11-3 (23m)
 Omneya Abdel Kawy (EGY) v  Laura Massaro (ENG)
 Nour El Sherbini (EGY) v  Nicol David (MAS)
Pictures by STEVE LINE (www.squashpics.com)