Au’s seed cull comes to a crashing end as Nicol shows who’s boss in Cleveland
By MICHAEL CATLING – Squash Mad Chief Reporter
WORLD number one Nicol David produced another imperious display to end qualifier Annie Au’s fairtytale run at the Cleveland Classic and win her seventh straight WSA Tour title.
David, who suffered a shock defeat in the final last year, was forced to save four game balls in the opening game before cruising to her 73rd WSA title of her career at the Cleveland Racquet Club in Ohio.
Au, though, can hold her head high after becoming the first qualifier to reach the event’s climax – achieving her stunning run after dismissing English trio Jenny Duncalf, Laura Massaro and Alison Waters en route to her first final appearance since winning the Asian Championships in March 2013.
Indeed, the left-hander from Hong Kong threatened to inflict David’s first dropped game of the tournament after amassing three game balls in the opening game.
However, the 30-year-old Malaysian fought back to force a tie-break and although she trailed again at 11-10, the 2012 champion reeled off three successive points to shatter Au’s early confidence.
The seven-time World champion barely surrendered control thereafter and after doubling her advantage following a one-sided second game, she moved ahead from five-all in the third to seal a 13-11, 11-5, 11-6 victory in 35 minutes.
“It’s a great feeling – you can’t describe it to people – to work that hard in training and have it pay off on the court,” said David in her post match interview.
Au, 24, later added: “Nicol is a top player – no matter how I played the ball she just went and got it.”
Victory extends David’s unbeaten run to 35 matches since losing in the 2013 British Open final in May and has failed to drop a game since her semi-final victory over Waters at the Hong Kong Open semi-finals in December.
Both players will now turn their attentions to the KL Open in March, where David will be hoping to reclaim her title on home soil after suffering a surprise semi-final defeat last year.
 Nicol David (MAS) 3-0 [Q] Annie Au (HKG) 13-11, 11-5, 11-6 (35m)
Pictures by Andrea Dawson