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Picture by Xiaoqi Li

Charlottesville: Coppinger Seals Repeat In Thriller

South African Stephen Coppinger made it two in a row at the Harrow Charlottesville Open, defeating Aussie Ryan Cuskelly for the second consecutive year to claim the silverware and keep the PSA M25 title in his possession.

Twelve months ago Coppinger downed Cuskelly 3-1 to take the crown but was forced to produce one of the finest performances of his career to retain the crown, fighting back from match ball down to halt the change of in-form Cuskelly.

The Australian, who reached last last four stage at the Hong Kong Open last month, started in ominous fashion as he commanded the court en route to opening up 1 5-1 lead before sealing the first game of the match and he then doubled his advantage after saving four game balls to inflict a tough second game loss on Coppinger and place one hand on the trophy.

It looked to be all over then in the third as Coppinger again squandered multiple game balls to allow Cuskelly a sniff of match ball, but this time the 31-year-old held strong to overturn the situation and get his name on the board and he was quickly back to parity after a strong fourth game.

With all to play for in the decisive fifth it was the reigning champion, who from 5-4 up, surged to the silverware courtesy of an 11-4 fifth game to bring to an end a 90-minute thriller.

“Absolutely delighted to retain the title here and get the season off to a winning start,” said Coppinger afterwards.

“Ryan has also been playing great squash and made it very difficult in the final. Thankfully I had a bit more left in the tank and was able to pull away in the end. Huge thanks to all, especially the crazy South Africans, my family included, who stayed up till the early hours to follow on the live streaming”

Charlottesville Open Final:
[2] Stephen Coppinger (RSA) bt [1] Ryan Cuskelly (AUS) 3-2: 8-11, 13-15, 14-12, 11-9, 11-4 (90m)

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