From Qualifier to Finalist, Annie Au Wing-chi played some fine squash during the last week at the Cleveland Classic in Ohio, US.
Although falling short in the Final, Au, Hong Kong’s No.1 women’s squash player, has had a great start to the 2014 season to reach the Final on Feb 4 at the Cleveland Racquet Club.
Au beat three top English players in the process. Entering the tournament as a Qualifier on Jan 30, the 24-year-old had two straight game wins against Nouran Gohar of Egypt and Latasha Khan of USA. This moved her into the main draw with the seeded players on Feb 1.
Au, Ranked No.11 in the world, dismissed Jenny Duncalf (No.9) in three straight games 11-5, 11-9, 11-3; then won against the English No.1, Laura Massaro (2) again in three straight games 11-5, 12-10, 14-12 after two difficult final games.
In the Semi-final Au came through a tough 5-game match to beat Alison Waters (4) 6-11, 11-7, 9-11, 11-2, 12-10.
Au’s opponent in the Final was 7-time world champion Nicol David (8-time winner of the Hong Kong Open),who has only lost a handful of times since 2010. Winning for Au was going to be a tough ask and David continued her winning prowess, taking the match in three straight games.
Au led in the first game, and at one stage was leading 10-7, but although she had four opportunities, could not force the final game point.
David clawed her way back to take the game 13-11. David won the next two games 11-5, 11-6 to take the title.
This, however, is an excellent result for Au, which should push her back into a top ten world ranking and should give her added impetus in her coming tournaments.
Au’s highest ranking to-date was No.6 in May 2012.