[Q] Leo Au (HKG) def Ryan Cuskelly (AUS) 7-11 11-7 11-8 11-4 (63-min)
This was a remarkable Round-1 World Series win for Hong Kong’s Leo Au. He knew it would be a physical battle with Australia’s Ryan Cuskelly from first serve. They had played twice before, six years ago in Edmonton and Kuala Lumpur. Both matches went the distance. Cuskelly won in Canada. Au in Malaysia.
Leo fell behind early
It’s not often you can say an athlete benefits by playing through qualifying. Leo Au reached the Main Draw of the Qatar Classic with a first round qualifying win over Pakistan’s Farhan Zaman, then came back from a game down to defeat England’s Richie Fallows in four. He had time on court in Doha; experience that helped him down the stretch with Cuskelly. Couple court-time with winning his 10th career PSA Tour title at the Malaysian Open 8 days ago, and you had a tasty recipe for determination and endurance.
Ryan hasn’t had the best of starts this season. After winning the World Doubles Championship with Cameron Pilley in August, he reached the quarters in San Francisco; then fell early at both the US Open and the St. George’s Hill Classic. Despite being up a game on Au, the frustrations of 1st-Round failures had to be nipping at his heels.
A heated game-3 shifts momentum
Au quickly leveled the match in game-2, then both played brilliantly in game-3. The shotmaking was sensational. Up 8-5, it looked like Cuskelly would gain the edge again, but Leo launched through six unanswered points to take the lead.
Leo leaped through the 4th in no time, giving up only 4-points, and reached Round-2 of the Qatar Classic for the second consecutive year. (FULL MATCH RECAP)