Hong Kong’s Leo Au is hoping to emulate his recently retired sister, Annie, as he aims for a place inside the top 20 of the PSA World Rankings when the PSA World Tour returns following the COVID-19 global pandemic.
Au’s efforts are on hold for the time being after the tour was suspended until August, but the 30-year-old is hopeful that he can recapture the kind of form that saw him win the QSF Open at the outset of the season as he bids to finally reclaim a place amongst the world’s elite.
Au has ranked inside the world’s top 20 once in his career – back in July 2018 – and has flirted with a top 20 ranking for much of the season. Consistency, he says, is the reason why he hasn’t quite been able to achieve that ranking again.
“I was trying to get back to my highest ranking this season,” Au said.
“Although I’m so close to it, unfortunately I haven’t achieved it yet. I would give myself a seven [out of 10] for the season because I think I performed better than last season, but I still need to work on my consistency.
“If I could get back inside the top 20, I will treat it as a kind of recognition of the effort I’ve put into the sport and it will give me motivation to achieve better results.”
Au’s sister, Annie, hung up her racket two months ago after a 16-year career which saw her win 17 tour titles and achieve a World Ranking of No.6.
And Au is hoping that her achievements, along with his regular presence in the world’s top 25, will lead to more players picking up the sport in their native Hong Kong.
“Even though I'm still far behind of my sister's ranking, I'm still satisfied with my achievement as the level of the game is very competitive,” he said.
“I hope my sister and I can bring some positive energy to the young Hong Kong players so they can work hard towards their goals.”
Au looks back on a season that saw him reach the quarter-finals of the J.P. Morgan China Open as well as the semi-finals of the Motor City Open in Detroit, notably beating World No.7 Marwan ElShorbagy in the latter and testing the older ElShorbagy brother, World No.1 Mohamed, in the former.
He also came within a whisker of beating World No.11 Mohamed Abouelghar in Qatar, narrowly missing out on a place in the quarter-finals of the PSA Men's World Championship following some controversial refereeing decisions.
Au says those performances, along with his title win at the QSF Open, have been his standout moments of the season.
“The tournament [QSF Open] was in the middle of my summer training, and by winning one of the biggest title in my career , it showed me that I'm on the right track, so I could continue with the same training plan and get ready for the next tournament,” Au said.
“They [China and Motor City] were gold and silver events, respectively, and there were top 10 players competing in these two tournaments, so I'm happy that I can get into the latter rounds of the tournaments.”
For the time being, squash is on the back burner for the World No.21, and he says that studying and recuperating from a leg injury are his immediate goals during this pandemic.
Au (left) takes on Mohamed Abouelghar (right) during the 2019-20 PSA Men's World Championship
“I will spend some time on doing homework and revisions as I’ve been studying for a master’s degree in Sports Coaching and Management since September last year,” he said.
“I will also try to fix my leg injury, which occurred a few weeks ago during a match, and most importantly, I’ll be keeping a reasonable distance from others.”