By CHRIS HOLLOW in Toronto
The 2018 Workforce Canada Cup Final night kicked off with an entertaining undercard of host venue Cambridge Club 6x Club Champion Rob Nigro versus 2x reigning Canadian Women’s Champion Hollie McNaughton in a Battle of the Sexes showdown. A relieved Nigro prevailed in straight-sets and it was time for the Final.
Sixth-seeded Max Lee squared off against the two-seed Ryan Cuskelly. It was a tight and aggressive four games that saw control ebb and flow but, in the end, the world Number #29 from Hong Kong upset the higher-seeded Australian 11-7, 11-7, 5-11, 14-12 in 65 minutes.
Cuskelly raced out to 4-0 lead in Game One only to give it back immediately to 4-point run by Lee. Max oscillated between retrieval and attacking, offence and defence on his way to 11-7 wins in both Games One and Two.
Cuskelly stepped up the accuracy and aggression in the Third, chopping a number of close-quarter crosscourt winners from up front, much to the delight of the crowd. His assertiveness was rewarded to the tune of a run-away 11-5 win.
The tournament in its ninth year, this is the first year that it was played for PSA ranking points. It showed in the fourth with the players fighting tooth and nail, upping the pace, both covering a ton of ground. Lee went down 7-2 and would later comment that he simply “tried not be negative, just stay positive.”
It seemed to work for the 30 year-old as he clawed his way back from 7-2 and 9-5 to earn a match ball at 10-9. The Aussie wasn’t just ready to go quietly into the night and won a mammoth rally, fending off the first of three match balls he faced.
Though putting in a valiant effort, Cuskelly fell on the third match ball 14-12. Match, Championship, lifetime Cambridge Club membership and the honorary tournament winner’s white robe to the victor! Congratulations on your 13th PSA Tour title and adding the Canada Cup to your list of conquests Mr. Lee!
Thank you to the title sponsor Workforce and presenting sponsors Sheraton Centre, Cambridge Group of Clubs and Cooper Mediation. And thanks to all the Gold, Silver and Bronze sponsors without whom this tournament would not be possible: RBC Wealth Management, Polar Asset Management, Bristol Gate Captial Partners, Sulliden Mining Capital, Corpa Investigation, Bar Mecurio, Torkin Manes, Macquarie, Superior Masterbuilt and TD.
Australian No.1 Ryan Cuskelly and Hong Kong No.1 Max Lee will go head-to-head in the final of the inaugural Canada Cup after respective wins over Campbell Grayson and Abdulla Mohd Al Tamimi on semi-finals day at the PSA M50 tournament.
Cuskelly, the World No.18 from Evans Head, got himself on the ball early and was precise in his play as he powered into a one-game lead against the Kiwi for the loss of three points.
Cuskelly then doubled his lead in the second, until Grayson came out looking like a different player in the third as he dictated the play to go 6-1 up.
But Cuskelly ramped up the pressure on his fellow Antipodean to draw level at 7-7 and made the most of his momentum to take the next four points in succession to close out the victory, reaching his first PSA World Tour final since last year’s Motor City Open.
Lee, meanwhile, earned his place in the title decider courtesy of a 3-1 victory over Qatari World No.36 Al Tamimi, who had dispatched top seed Diego Elias in the quarter-finals.
A composed start to the game from Lee saw the World No.29 go two games to the good, but Al Tamimi fought back in the third as he refocused and tightened up to claw a game back.
However, Lee redoubled his efforts and showed nerves of steel to see out the fourth game, booking his place in a second Tour final in a row after his title winning showing at last month’s Pittsburgh Open.
Quarter-Final Shock: Qatari World No.34 Abdulla Mohd Al Tamimi moved into the semi-finals of the 2018 Canada Cup after claiming a 3-1 victory over top seed Diego Elias.
Elias continues to be hampered by injury after spending two months on the sidelines with a hamstring problem between November-January and he played through the pain barrier at times against the number seven seed.
The Peruvian World No.10 came back from two games down to defeat wild card Michael McCue in the previous round and, while he overturned a 1-0 deficit to draw level against Al Tamimi, he couldn’t complete another comeback as he slipped to an 11-5, 4-11, 11-8, 11-3 defeat.
First Round Shock! The unseeded Campbell Grayson of New Zealand staged a first-round upset of Hong Kong’s Leo Au in the first round of the Workforce Canada Cup, taking down his higher-ranked counterpart 3-0 in 57 minutes. He then beat Scotland’s Alan Clyne in the quarters before going out to Ryan Cuskelly in the semis.
PSA M50 Men’s Workforce Canada Cup 2018, Cambridge Club, Toronto, Canada.
 Max Lee (HKG) bt  Ryan Cuskelly (AUS) 11-7, 11-7, 5-11, 14-12 (65m)
 Max Lee (HKG) bt  Abdulla Al-Tamimi (QAT) 11-9, 11-7, 9-11, 11-7 (64m)
 Ryan Cuskelly (AUS) bt Campbell Grayson (NZL) 11-3, 11-5, 11-7 (52m)
 Abdulla Al-Tamimi (QAT) bt  Diego Elias (PER) 11-5, 4-11, 11-8, 11-3
 Max Lee (HKG) bt  Cesar Salazar (MEX) 11-8, 11-7, 11-8
Campbell Grayson (NZL) bt  Alan Clyne (SCO) 11-4, 5-11, 11-8, 11-7 (60m)
 Ryan Cuskelly (AUS) bt Arturo Salazar (MEX) 8-11, 11-7, 11-3, 11-4
 Diego Elias (PER) bt [WC] Michael McCue (CAN) 8-11, 9-11, 11-6, 11-5, 11-4 (71m)
 Abdulla Al-Tamimi (QAT) bt [Q] Christopher Gordon (USA) 11-6, 11-8, 11-7 (46m)
 Max Lee (HKG) bt [Q] David Baillargeon (CAN) 11-9, 11-7, 8-11, 11-6 (54m)
 Cesar Salazar (MEX) bt [Q] Shawn Delierre (CAN) 11-5, 11-6, 11-5 (39m)
Campbell Grayson (NZL) bt  Leo Au (HKG) 11-6, 11-9, 14-12 (57m)
 Alan Clyne (SCO) bt Ivan Yuen (MAS) 12-10, 8-11, 11-6, 15-13 (69m)
Arturo Salazar (MEX) bt  Adrian Waller (ENG) 12-10, 2-11, 8-11, 13-11, 11-8
 Ryan Cuskelly (AUS) bt [Q] Chris Hanson (USA) 11-6, 11-3, 11-3
David Baillargeon (CAN) bt Ben Coates (ENG) 11-3, 11-8, 11-4
Chris Hanson (USA) bt Tristan Eysele (RSA) 11-8, 11-7, 11-9
Shawn Delierre (CAN) bt Juan Camilo Vargas (COL) 7-11, 8-11, 11-5, 11-7, 11-3
Christopher Gordon (USA) bt Dimitri Steinmann (SUI) 11-9, 11-9, 11-9