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Max Lee and Leo Au looking for 30th anniversary breakthrough

The Hong Kong Open marks its 30th anniversary this year, with two home-grown male players, Max Lee Ho-yin whose world ranking just reached a career high of #13, and the newly-crowned Asian Champion Leo Au Chun-ming, who both hope this could be the year for a breakthrough.

The Hong Kong Open attracts the world's elite players to compete every year, but the local men’s players have never made it past the first round.

11th Open for Max, Ten up for Leo

Max, aged 27, will be playing in the event for the eleventh time having first appeared in the 2004 event, and is excited that his world ranking allows him direct entry to the main draw, where he will feature for the sixth time and fifth year in a row.

Hong Kong #1, Max has turned in some remarkable performances in this the second half of the year; he first defended his title in the HKFC International, and also captured the title in the Macau Open for the first time, boosting his confidence for breaking to the second round in the coming HK Open.

"Our performances will be always based on our physical conditions, plan executions, the opponents, and even luck," said Max, "but given all that, we will definitely give our best to strive for the best results."

Leo, 25, won his first Asian Championship this May and is also in the main draw, via the wild card spot. This will be his tenth Open, having made his debut in2006, and his third appearance in the main draw.

"The expectation on me this year is higher than in previous years since I achieved some good results, which show I am improving and I can play some great squash as well," said Leo.

Growing up with the Open

The two local stars grew up watching the Hong Kong Open and became huge fans of this world class event. Max has been holding the attitude of "keep breaking through" with the Open for all these years.

"I have been participating in the event since I was a junior, I used to enter the main event as the wild card or play in the qualifying rounds when I was eager to break into the main event. Now I finally made it, I'm setting my target higher, hoping I can reach the second round or even further."

For Leo, the Open was definitely the best way enhance his squash knowledge and skill when he was a junior.

"There was less live broadcast back then, so the Hong Kong Open would be the only chance to witness the top players competing in front of us and to learn from them. So I was really thrilled to participate in the event when I grew up."

Tough Tasks ahead

Neither face easy tasks though, as Leo is up against Egyptian sixth seed Omar Mosaad, who reached the finals of the U.S. Open and the World Champs in the last two big events, and Max is set to face France's Gregory Gaultier, the third seed who won both of those events, beating Omar in the finals.

With the support of the home crowds, Max and Leo believe they could have their best performances yet, while this annual squash extravaganza is an opportunity for the younger generation to enjoy the highest level of squash in order to enhance their awareness of the game.

And maybe the next Max and Leo will be watching ...

Leo and Max today

Max makes main draw in 2007

and in 2014

Original story on

Leo beats Aziz in 2011

and in 2014 Qualy Finals

  TODAY ] SEMIS ] QUARTERS ] Round TWO ] Day FOUR ] Day THREE ] Day TWO ] Day ONE ] 30th Anniversary ] [ MAX&LEO ] PREVIEW ] 



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