Australian No.2 Ryan Cuskelly upset defending champion Ali Farag to claim The Motor City Open presented by The Suburban Collection championship in a 3-1 triumph Monday (January 31) night at the Birmingham Athletic Club.
In his ninth year participating in the Motor City Open, Cuskelly advanced to the semi-finals for the very first time, before taking that accomplishment two steps further in his upset of World No.7 Farag, claiming the biggest win of his career in the process.
The night didn't start well for Cuskelly, as Farag came out with pinpoint precision in a dominant first game.
Things took a dramatic shift in the second game, however, as Cuskelly chased down ball after ball and the pace of the match started to pick up. The 29-year-old Australian got out to a 3-0 lead before Farag took the next four points. Cuskelly answered with a five-point run when he got Farag on the move and forced the young Egyptian into hitting tough shots into the tin.
Cuskelly owned the third much like the second, going on a five-point run to create separation and move one game away from the title.
The fourth game was a show that had the capacity crowd at the BAC on the edge of their seats. Farag appeared to regain his steady form, getting out to a 9-4 lead. At that point, Cuskelly was just trying to make sure he would go into the fifth with a bit of momentum.
As things got tighter and Cuskelly cut Farag's lead to 7-9, and then 8-9, it became apparent that the momentum had swung. Cuskelly dove on the floor to save the next point, hitting a winner after he got to his feet and tying things up.
Farag then found the tin again to give Cuskelly match point, and the longtime Motor City Open competitor was finally able to call himself champion when he hit a beautiful winner to claim the match.
“I'm pretty excited to win my biggest title in my favourite tournament on the Tour,” Cuskelly said.
“I always told the guys here I'd win it someday, but I didn't expect it to be this year.
“I was up 4-2 [in the fifth] and I thought about the finish line, which is silly.
“Next minute I was down 9-4 and I just tried to get back to playing normal squash for the next game.
“It's unbelievable. I lost in qualification for years, but I did a lot of hard training in December and it paid off.”
Farag said: “He stepped it up. I couldn't find the right balance between being aggressive and playing smart. Every time I would try to be aggressive, I would hit the tin.
“He put too much pressure on me.”
Result – Final: 2017 Suburban Collection Motor City Open
 Ryan Cuskelly (AUS) bt  Ali Farag (EGY) 3-1: 4-11, 11-5, 11-5, 11-9 (51m)
By Geoff Robinson