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2017/18 Season Review: Shocks of the Season

Title wins for Egyptian duo Mohamed ElShorbagy and Nour El Sherbini at the ATCO PSA Dubai World Series Finals earlier this month brought the curtain down on another thrilling season the PSA World Tour.

We’ll be reviewing all of the major talking points from the past 10 months of action over the next few weeks and have already analysed the season’s most outstanding players and breakthrough stars.

Join us now as we revisit some of the most shocking moments to light up the PSA World Tour last season.

Leo Au v Ramy Ashour: 2017 Hong Kong Open

Home favourite Leo Au caused one of the biggest shocks in the history of the Hong Kong Open as the tournament wildcard vanquished three-time World Champion Ramy Ashour in round one of last year’s tournament.

Ashour was returning after a two-month injury absence but had surged to victory at the China Open on his previous outing on the PSA World Tour.

Despite the Egyptian’s injury troubles, few would have fancied Au to get anything from the match but the then World No.26 was sublime as he put Ashour under constant pressure to bounce back from an opening game defeat, before going match ball up in the fourth to stand on the verge of an incredible upset.

Ashour played the crucial points well to draw level but a focused and committed display from Au in the decider saw him push ahead from 4-4 to take seven points in a row, completing a huge scalp to reach the second round of his home tournament for the first time.

Annie Au v Nicol David: 2017 U.S. Open

Leo wasn’t the only member of the Au family who caused a big upset during the 2017/18 campaign, with his older sister, World No.11 Annie, ended a 17-match losing streak against one of the greatest players ever to pick up a squash racket – Malaysia’s Nicol David.

In a run spanning almost a decade, Au had only managed to take three games from David in total but – in the setting of Philadelphia’s Drexel University – the form book went out of the window.

Using her trademark lob-drop style, Au managed to disturb David and took the eight-time World Champion out of her comfort zone early on as she opened up a 2-0 lead much to the disbelief of the crowd. But David, who looked far from her best on court, mounted a resurgence in the third game to come through a tight tie-break 12-10 and keep the match alive.

And she continued to be the aggressor in the fourth, stepping up and dominating Au to level the scoreboard, but in the crucial fifth it was Au who looked like the more relaxed and confident player, returning to the style that served her so well early on to come through and seal a huge upset.

Ryan Cuskelly v Mohamed ElShorbagy: 2018 J.P. Morgan Tournament of Champions

World No.1 Mohamed ElShorbagy dominated the PSA World Tour last season as he collected a myriad of honours and returned to the summit of the PSA World Rankings but he fell victim to a superb display from Australia’s Ryan Cuskelly during January’s J.P. Morgan Tournament of Champions.

ElShorbagy had won all three of their previous encounters – including in the second round of the 2017 Tournament of Champions – but Cuskelly, playing in his adopted hometown of New York, pulled off one of the biggest wins of his career as he came through a mammoth 90-minute battle inside Grand Central Terminal.

ElShorbagy was in the midst of an incredible run of form that had seen him win 21 successive matches and lift four titles in a row, including the PSA World Championship trophy a month previously.

However he was outplayed by his Australian opponent in an absorbing encounter which saw World No.16 Cuskelly produce one of his finest ever displays to claim victory in the city which he has called home for almost a decade.

Tesni Evans v Laura Massaro: 2017 PSA World Championships

Welsh No.1 Tesni Evans came on leaps and bounds last season and her victory over former World No.1 Laura Massaro during December’s World Championships laid the foundations for arguably her most successful season to date.

Massaro had beaten the 25-year-old from Rhyl in a feisty affair the previous month in Hong Kong but Evans laid down a marker in the first game as her masterful control enabled her to build up a lead, which she then doubled in the second.

Roared on by her home crowd, Massaro came back to take the third but her attempted fightback was soon halted as Evans prevailed in a scrappy fourth game to become the first Welsh player since former men’s World No.5 and current PSA Chief Executive Alex Gough in 2007 to reach the last eight of the World Championships.

That win over Massaro proved to be a watershed moment for Evans as it helped her move up to a career-high No.12 ranking, while she also defeated the former World Champion en route to claiming a bronze medal at the Commonwealth Games four months later.

Raphael Kandra v Nick Matthew: 2018 British Open

Germany’s Raphael Kandra stunned the squash world during the 2018 British Open with a history-making run to the semi-finals, during which he overcame three-time World Champion Nick Matthew in the 37-year-old’s final ranking PSA World Tour event.

Kandra, then ranked at World No.37, came through qualifying to reach the main draw and he had already caused an upset against Frenchman Mathieu Castagnet in the previous round.

The 27-year-old had lost out to Matthew in a thrilling five-game spectacle at the Qatar Classic earlier in the season.

But this time, Kandra proved too much for the 37-year-old Yorkshireman to handle and his he won in four games to cap a famous result.

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