JUDGEMENT DAY TAKES ITS TOLL AT THE CHINA OPEN 9-BALL

OH, WHAT MIGHT HAVE BEEN
IT’S THE THRILL OF VICTORY AND THE AGONY OF DEFEAT AS JUDGEMENT DAY TAKES ITS TOLL AT THE CHINA OPEN 9-BALL

By Ted Lerner
WPA Press Officer

Photos Courtesy of Jin Li / TOP147.com

IMG 8574   Copy 2 JUDGEMENT DAY TAKES ITS TOLL AT THE CHINA OPEN 9 BALL

es, pool can be a cruel sport, but it’s also the reason those who follow it love the action. Sometimes whole careers ride on the smallest turn of the ball.

(Shanghai)–There’s nothing quite like Judgement Day in the world of professional pool. Otherwise known as the Day of Reckoning, it’s when dozens upon dozens of matches take place in the group stages, all trying to determine who will still be around for the money rounds, and who will be sent packing without a dime to spend on even a soft drink. Yes, pool can be a cruel sport, but it’s also the reason those who follow it love the action. Sometimes whole careers ride on the smallest turn of the ball.

And so it was on Day 2 of the 2013 China Open in rainy Shanghai. Inside the cavernous and chilly Shanghai Pudong Yuanshen Stadium arena, the emotions were running on overdrive with the world’s best men and women pool players each desperately trying to reach the single elimination knockout stage of their respective tournaments which begin in earnest Saturday.

For the men, their field began with 64 players on day 1 and has now been whittled down to 32. For the women, the field started with 48 players and is now down to the final 16.

Few were immune to the drama today. World 9-ball Champion and world number 3 Darren Appleton thought he was cruising through to the knockout stage as he was up 7-3 in a race to 9 on the TV table against China’s 19 year up and comer Wang Can. But Can, who has spent some time playing pool in the US, turned the tables on the Brit and stormed back and grabbed an 8-7 lead. Appleton went from counting his chickens, to realizing he might have to play again later to stave off a shock elimination. But if anyone can play with their back against the wall it’s Appleton, and the 9-ball king grit his teeth and pulled out the win to advance.

Appleton was clearly ecstatic afterwards and said he was nearly overwhelmed by the magnitude of the moment.

“I was under serious pressure at the end,” he said. “It was like a semi-final at the world championship.”

Appleton has few if any weaknesses in his stellar game, but he revealed that he sometimes lets his attention lapse when he gets a big lead.

“In every major tournament I’ve won I never make it easy. I consider myself a bulldog, a fierce player. I like to scrap, sort of like a counter puncher in boxing. But when I have a big lead I tend to lose that intensity. I need that scrap. My mindset was when I was 8-7 down that I will probably dog the shot, so I might as well go for it. I need to sort out my attitude when I get a big lead.”

While Appleton went off to breath easy, Cam had to do it all over again, this time against Dutch star Niels Feijen. Feijen had lost his first match yesterday against the former two time world champion Wu Jiaqing(formerly Wu Chia Ching) who now lives and plays out of Shenzen, China. Feijen had earlier beat his good friend and countryman Nick Van Den Berg in a do or die match, 9-7. Against Can, Feijen was up 8-5, but Can fought his way back to tie it at 8 for a one rack decider. Feijen pulled it out to advance while Can was left to wonder what might have been.

The pressure matches kept popping up around the arena. Greece’s Nick Ekonomopolous, who had earlier lost to Wu, went hill-hill with Venezuela’s Jalal Yousef, who was sure he was about to claim one of his biggest scalps. But a fluked 4-ball off a jump propelled the burly Greek into the knockout stages, while Yousef stormed out of the arena in disgust.

Germany’s Thorsten Hohmann advanced but not without some heart palpitations, as he won two straight hill-hill matches. Hohmann’s countryman, Hall of Famer Ralf Souquet, had to battle back from the losers side and barely got by China’s Liu Haitao in a do or die match, 9-8.

The Philippines’ two biggest stars played drama free as defending champion Dennis Orcollo advanced to the final 32 with an airtight 9 – 7 win over Austria’s young gun Albin Ouschan 9-7. Read more ...

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