Pilley bows out after another five-set classic
SQUASH: After back-to-back nail-biting losses to World Champion, Karim Abdel Gawad, Yamba-born squash sensation Cameron Pilley has relinquished his mantle as Australia's number one squash player.
Pilley rose to 17th in the world after a determined showing at the JP Morgan Tournament of Champions, where he lost to Egypt's Gawad in a five-set thriller but it was Evans Head's Ryan Cuskelly, with a career-defining win at the Motor City Open, who managed to leapfrog Pilley to become World No.16.
It is a moment that bodes well with Pilley, as the last time Cuskelly jumped him in the rankings, back in 2015, Pilley used it as motivation to put on his most dominant performance, clinching the Hong Kong Open from France's Gregory Gaultier.
Pilley had his second five-set loss to the Egyptian in as many months on Friday when he bowed out of the quarter finals at the UCS Swedish Open in Linkoping.
The Australian twice recovered from a game down and saved three match balls in the fourth to level the scores and set up a nail-biting decider.
Gawad moved Pilley about well in the decider though, and finally managed to shake off his tenacious opponent to wrap up an 11-7, 9-11, 11-9, 12-14, 11-6 victory to reach the last four and extend his unbeaten run to 18 matches.
"Throughout my career I have lost matches when I have had match ball,” Gawad said.
"What I have gained from these matches and these experiences helps me not to focus on whether or not I had match ball.”
The heavy-hitting Australian will now refocus his efforts as he prepares with coach Carl Koenig for the upcoming 2017 Windy City Open in Chicago, where he is drawn to meet German Stephen Coppinger in the first round.
"Tournament is done for me here in Sweden,” Pilley wrote on social media.
"Won my first match 3-0 then last night lost to Gawad 3-2. It was a brutal 99-min match, happy with the way I played though and looking forward to the Windy City Open in a few weeks' time.”