Hedrick, Low, King And Queen Of Australian Open

Hedrick, Low, King And Queen Of Australian Open

 The Australian Open Has come and gone but the upsets and long rallies recorded especially in the finals of both the men and women matches will not be forgotten easily.

28-year-old Malaysian Wee Wern Low, secured her third straight PSA World Tour title in as many events

When she defeated Egypt’s Hana Ramadan in the 2018 Australian Open Women’s final on Sunday. 

Low, former World No. 5 only recently returned to the court after a lengthy lay-off due to a serious anterior cruciate ligament injury

The time out of the game saw her ranking slip to as low as 244, but after wins at the Malaysian Open, Tasmanian Open and now the Australian Open,

Wee Wern admitts the unexpected results in recent weeks had given her the confidence that she could rise high up the rankings once again.

Says: “It feels great – it was my first time playing here at the Mulgrave Country Club so I really enjoyed it

“I’ve been out for so long, so it’s good to be back. Three out of three titles are more than I could have hoped for

“I didn’t really know what to expect when I made my comeback. I’ve been out for 21 months since my last PSA Tournament,

‘’So I didn’t really know what to expect, but like I said, three out of three is the best scenario that could have happened and I’m very pleased with that.” 

After a strong start to the Australian Open final where she won the first two games,

Wee Wern had to weather a strong fight back from the 20-year-old Ramadan, who took the third game.

Wern drew on every bit of her major tournament experience to turn the momentum back her way in the fourth and subsequently secure the title.

While she also got the better of Ramadan in the Tasmanian Open semi-final last week, Wee Wern praised the up-and-coming star for her fight throughout the contest.

“These Egyptians, you never know with them because they are so strong,

“I really had to keep to my game plan, and although I was unlucky to lose the third,

‘’I had to make sure I kept my cool and not get too frustrated about it because she was still very much in the match

“Really had to come back in the fourth and get a good lead which was important for me, and I did that

‘’She came back again in the fourth, but fortunately I had a pretty big lead and I managed to pull through from there

“The difference was it was much colder in Tasmania, so the ball wasn’t bouncing as much so that was the key difference compared to today

‘’I think it works both ways though, because she (Ramadan) is more comfortable with the ball bouncing a bit more

‘’So I knew it was going to be a very tough match coming from last week. I just had to keep to my game plan, which worked in the end.”

Making Wee Wern’s achievement in this tournament even more notable is the fact she wasn’t originally in the Australian Open draw

A withdrawal late last week opened the opportunity for her to compete in Melbourne, and is one she was glad to take with both hands as she continues her career revival going forward. 

“For me, it really depends on what tournaments I can get in because of the new PSA tournament structure  

“Even this week, I didn’t initially get in the draw. I only got in when I was in Tasmania and someone pulled out

‘’So I managed to make some changes to my flights and get in the draw.

“I’m getting better with every match, so I hope to keep that going and to get my career back on track.“t

The Malaysian star held her composure to the last to secure her first Australian Open title in 60 minutes – 11-6, 11-9, 10-12, 11-6.

Watch Women’s Final match between  Malaysian Wee Wern Low and Egyptian Hana Ramadan

 The final score line reads 3-0 in Hedrick’s favour, but the reality is the contest was much closer than that. After winning the first game, Hedrick found himself down 8-10 during a marathon second game, in which Steinmann looked to have wrestled back control of the match.

“I knew it was really important with the score being 1-0, and then the second went for a really long time, so I knew it would be quite decisive if I could get over the line in that game

“Both of us were fatiguing a little bit, so I knew if I could get that 2-0 lead, it could go a long way to winning the match.”

It was a case of third time lucky for the 29-year-old, as he finally secured a major tournament win in his home state following runner-up results at Mulgrave in the 2016 and 2017 Victorian Opens

Says: “I’ve been trying to win this kind of tournament for quite a while now, so it’s a really good feeling to win it

“Even a few months out, I looked at this tournament and thought, ‘I really want to try and get up for this one’.

“I had a couple of close losses in previous years, so it is good to win in front of your home crowd, which I hadn’t done here yet.”

“He (Steinmann) was a lot better than when I played him last year and he has improved a lot

“He’s a bit younger than me, and he has been training hard and you can see the difference – he stuck in there a lot longer and was a lot harder to break down this year than that match we played last year.”

For Hedrick, a win in a prestigious tournament such as the Australian Open is one he will look back fondly on at the end of his career.

For now however, it’s a welcome reward for persistence after an injury interrupted 2017, which saw him endure three separate three-month long lay-offs. 

“It’s just nice to be out there playing and moving freely, and not worrying about what’s going to go wrong with the body

“I think that’s really important; with squash being such a demanding sport, if you’re not moving 100%, you get found out pretty quick. It’s just nice to be moving around well and playing well and trying to push that ranking up again

“I’m just going to take it as it comes, I’m just trying to stay injury-free really and keep playing 

“And I’m at a stage of my career where I guess I’m weighing up all options; I’m working full time so it’s hard to just go from tournament to tournament to tournament, I’ve got to be picky with the

“But hopefully I’m still playing good enough squash to be playing at a high level for a while to come.”

Below- Men’s final match between Champion Rex Hedrick & Dimitri Steinmann