The 2015/16 season will go down in history as one of the most exciting and enthralling seasons in the history of the PSA World Tour, with a series of stunning tournaments and thrilling matches lighting up courts around the globe.
For the next few weeks, our Throwback Thursday pieces are going to look at some of the finest matches of the season as the world’s best players went toe-to-toe in some spectacular, action-packed encounters.
March saw Hull’s Airco Arena stage the prestigious Allam British Open for the third year in a row, with the ‘Wimbledon of Squash’ being held over the Easter weekend for the first time since 1996 – and the stunning second round encounter between three-time World Champion Ramy Ashour and then World No.15 Ryan Cuskelly acted as a perfect pre-cursor to the festivities.
Ashour, one of the PSA World Tour’s most charismatic and popular characters, was appearing at his first tournament since trudging off court four months earlier during his PSA Men’s World Championship quarter-final encounter with fellow Egyptian Omar Mosaad after the hamstring injury that has ravaged his career over the past two years reared its head once more.
Meanwhile, Cuskelly was enjoying his best season on the PSA World Tour after breaking into the world’s top 15 and reaching a maiden World Series semi-final in November’s Qatar Classic, but his form had tailed off slightly since then, exiting in the first round stage of four of his next six tournaments.
But it was Ashour who initially struggled to get to grips with the competition in Hull as he went 2-0 down to Mexico’s Cesar Salazar in the opening round and found himself on the precipice of a ignominious defeat from a tournament that he won three year previously.
A virtuoso fightback from the prodigious 28-year-old then ensued though and he took three games without reply to set up a second round meeting with Cuskelly, who had prevailed over New Zealand’s Paul Coll in four games.
It was all one-way traffic in the early exchanges as an indomitable Ashour surged into a two-game lead courtesy of some magnificent attacking artistry and spell-binding control of the court. A short break after an injury to Cuskelly at the start of the third game proved to be pivotal, however, as it disrupted Ashour’s rhythm and a resurgent Cuskelly came storming back to level the scores in front of a captivated crowd.
The deciding fifth game saw six unforced errors from Ashour in the first 12 points give Cuskelly a 9-3 lead and the Australian looked destined to close out the win. However, Ashour refused to give in and clawed his way back into the match, coming out on top of 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.
Relive the highlights below
Tune in next Thursday when we look back at another humdinger from the 2015/16 season. In the meantime, log in to SQUASHTV where you can catch more matches from the past campaign – including the Women’s British Open semi-final clash between Nouran Gohar and Camille Serme.