'Never-say-die' Au fights her way to victory in Australian Open

PUBLISHED : Monday, 04 August, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 04 August, 2008, 12:00am

Annie Au Wing-chi enhanced her growing reputation as heir apparent to long-time Hong Kong champion Rebecca Chiu Wing-yin by winning the women's title at the Australian Open yesterday.

Au came back from two games down, then saved two match balls to beat top seed Australian Kasey Brown in a thrilling final in the South Australian town of Clare.

It was the first major senior title for Au whose name will appear on the trophy that has featured some of the greatest names in women's squash.

Seventh-seeded Au was heading for defeat when Brown took the opening two games, but the Hong Kong number two fought back magnificently to beat the world number 13 6-11, 7-11, 11-6, 11-6, 12-10 and become the first Hong Kong player to win the Australian Open.

Au's win was all the more impressive since Brown had demolished Chiu 3-0 in Hong Kong in June, in the final of the Crocodile Challenge Cup.

Brown and Au thrilled the crowd with their never-say-die attacking styles - and both players scrambled for every ball. Brown, who won the title in 2006, had match balls at 10-8 in the fifth, but Au (pictured) refused to concede and won the next four points to close out the match.

Au said she had trouble adapting to the pace of Brown in the opening games.

'In the first two games I couldn't match her speed in the back court and I kept thinking I could not play my favourite shots,' she said.

'In the third game I think she slowed down and I was able to go on the attack.'

The decider became a war of attrition and Brown looked likely to claim her second title when she led 10-8 before Au rallied again.

'I was just thinking 'I still have a chance' so I didn't give up and I just relaxed. I had already made it to the final so I didn't have anything to lose,' she said.

A disappointed Brown said Au had been stronger at the finish.

'She hit some amazing shots - I just couldn't do anything with them,' she said. Au claimed the scalps of the tournament's top three seeds on three consecutive days to become a worthy champion.

'This summer I didn't have any school and I was able to do more training, so I didn't feel tired,' she said.