World No. 1’s Manek Mathur & Damien Mudge narrowly avoided their first defeat of the season, fighting off two-match balls in the fifth-game of the 2017 Jim Bentley Cup semifinals to go on and claim their third title of the season Monday night at the Cambridge Club in Toronto, Canada.
Playing in their second Bentley together, the top seeds breezed past their quarterfinal opponents, Strachan Jarvis & Mark Porter, who made it through three five-game qualifiers to reach the main draw.
One week after winning the PDC Cup with John Russell, Scott Arnold reunited with his former partner Robin Clarke as the four seeds. A three-game quarterfinal win against Tyler Hamilton & Robert Nigro saw Clarke & Arnold set up a semifinal clash with Mathur & Mudge.
Mathur & Mudge started on the front foot, claiming the first two games 15-8, 15-11 and held one match ball at 14-all in the third, but failed to capitalize, giving Clarke & Arnold new life. The Canadian national doubles champions pressed on to take the fourth 15-12, and were poised to hand the world No. 1’s their first defeat in thirty-eight matches with two match balls, but the defending champions rattled off three straight points to advance to the finals.
Mathur & Mudge’s Canadian final opponents, Viktor Berg & Thomas Brinkman, nearly exited the tournament in the first round. The three seeds fought off three match balls against Fred Reid & Aaron Luque to reach the semis, where they met two seeds Jonny Smith & Raj Nanda. Berg & Brinkman then pulled off the upset in four to reach the final.
In one of the quickest matches of the tournament, Mathur & Mudge stormed to the title 15-9, 15-5, 15-4 in just thirty-nine minutes.
“It was a difficult tournament to judge our performance,” Mathur admitted. “We played some of the best squash of our season and at the same time, had some lapses in concentration in the semis, which almost was detrimental for our event. Not to take anything away from Clarke & Arnold, they played extremely well, stayed strong and executed their game plan perfectly. They had us playing off our heels and we lost position.”
Mathur marks his second career Jim Bentley title, while Mudge marks his seventh since 1999.
“The Bentley is one of my favorite events on tour,” Mathur said. “Clive, Jamie and Tyler take great care of all the players as soon as they take the elevator up to the 11th floor. You are a member there for as long as you stay and it could not be more of a special event.”
The Jim Bentley Cup was first held in 1973.
“As soon as you walk into the Cambridge Club you feel the history behind the club and are reminded of it as you walk through the hallways,” Mathur added. “We can’t thank the tournament committee up there enough for all their support of the tour and the players.”
The tour resumes with the highest prize money event of the season, The $60,000 Briggs Cup at the Apawamis Club, December 8-11.
Watch Jim Bentley Cup replays below. View images here.