Egyptian maverick Ramy Ashour came back from the brink of elimination in round two of the 2016 Allam British Open, PSA World Series tournament after saving a match ball against Australia’s Ryan Cuskelly in Hull.
Ashour, who won this event in 2013, had gone two games up earlier only to see his lead shattered by a resurgent Cuskelly, who refocused after an injury forced him off court for a short period during the third, before going 9-3 up in the deciding fifth game. In a remarkable display of tenacity and skill, Ashour battled back and overturned a match ball for Cuskelly at 11-10 to bring an end to a dramatic encounter with a 11-5, 11-9, 6-11, 9-11, 13-11 victory.
A bleeding hand towards the beginning of the third game forced Cuskelly off court and Ashour struggled to rediscover his rhythm as the Australian opened up the court well and gave Ashour no time on the ball, keeping the three-time World Champion behind him to claw a game back. Cuskelly continued where he left off in the fourth with Ashour’s acrobatic dives only just keeping the World No.5 keeping in the rallies by the skin of his teeth. Ashour looked to have found another gear towards the end but Cuskelly kept fighting to take it and send the match into a dramatic fifth-game showdown in front of an enraptured crowd.
Six unforced errors from Ashour in the first 12 points gave Cuskelly a 9-3 lead and the World No.15 looked destined to close out the win. However, Ashour refused to give in and clawed his way back into the match by coming out on top in some spellbinding rallies before a tinned drive from Cuskelly drew a nail-biting 106-minute spectacle – the second longest match of Ashour’s career – to a close.
Cuskelly said: “We train together sometimes, so I know how hard it is to beat him, even when he is not at 100 per cent.
In the first two games, he played at a ridiculous pace, it took me a while to get use to the pace coming from the other court. And in the next three, I got used to the pace, and I tried to get him behind me for a change, because he is so dangerous and too good when he is in front of you. So in the third, my length picked up, and I dominated him for once.
“He did a lot of unforced errors in the fifth, so I knew he was bound to come back, that’s what he does and he is probably the worst player to be down to. At 9-3, maybe I looked at the finishing line as well. I had a few opportunities I didn’t capitalise on, I was hoping to squeeze a few more errors as well but I’m pretty gutted to be honest.”
Result – Second Round: Men’s Allam British Open 2016
 Ramy Ashour (EGY) bt Ryan Cuskelly (AUS) 3-2: 11-5, 11-9, 6-11, 9-11, 13-11 (106m)
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