Chiu gets fright from young wild-card Au

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 08 November, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 08 November, 2007, 12:00am

Hong Kong's Rebecca Chiu Wing-yin was given a scare when she was fully extended by compatriot Annie Au Wing-chi in the opening round of the Cathay Pacific Hong Kong Open yesterday.

Chiu, ranked 13th in the world, only beat 18-year-old Au, a wild-card entry with a ranking of 53, after four games at Hong Kong Squash Centre.

'They know each other so well, and that's why the match was very close,' said Hong Kong team coach Tony Choi Yuk-kwan. 'Au was under no pressure and as a wild-card entry, she had nothing to lose.

'But at the end of the day, the more experienced Chiu still prevailed. This is good for squash in Hong Kong as it shows the younger generation is fast improving.'

The city's top female player took a comfortable first game 9-2, but youngster Au levelled with a 10-9 win in the second after building an 8-3 lead. Au again took an 8-3 advantage in the third game, but let it slip before losing 10-9. Chiu then sealed the victory, 9-4, in the fourth.

'The second and third games were very close,' said Chiu. 'I had to work hard to come back from behind and extend both to deuce.

'Au has been making good progress and she seems to be improving every time I play her. But I think my experience made the difference.'

Au admitted she had paid the price for failing to take the critical points. 'Overall, I am happy with my performance, but I still have a lot to learn, especially when the game reaches critical moments,' she said.

Chiu will now take on sixth-seeded Vicky Botwright of England today, the player who knocked her out at the same stage last year.

'I have never won against her in our four or five previous encounters,' said Chiu. 'She is a very physical player who always makes life difficult for me. I'll have a good sleep tonight, think of new tactics and hopefully it works against her.'

Chiu is the only survivor of the local contingent in the HK$1.6 million tournament as all the other SAR players fell at the opening hurdle.

Christina Mak Pui-hing put up a brave fight against Annelize Naude, of the Netherlands, before losing 3-1 in the first round.

Max Lee Ho-yin, the first Hong Kong player to reach the men's main draw after going through the qualifiers, was no match for the seventh seed, Lee Beachill of England, suffering a 3-0 defeat, while Dick Lau Siu-wai was also beaten 3-0 by an English player, Nick Matthew.

Women's world number one Nicol David, of Malaysia, got off to a convincing start with a 9-4, 9-0, 9-0 win over compatriot Tricia Chuah, while third-seeded Rachael Grinham, of Australia, trounced Lauren Briggs, of England, 3-0.