IT’S CHINA VS. CHINESE-TAIPEI IN MONDAY’S FINAL FOUR
BY TED LERNER
WPA Press Officer
Photos Courtesy my147.com
(Shenyang, China)–Chinese-Taipei and China are natural rivals and friends in many arenas, and the sport of pool is certainly no exception. The sport is popular in both nations but because Chinese-Taipei has been at it much longer than China, the Chinese certainly feel they have much to prove to their cousins across the water.
On Monday in Shenyang, they will get their chance.
The 2013 Women’s World 9-ball Championship has now come down to the Final Four, and both semi-final matches will feature China vs. Chinese-Taipei. In the first semi-final at 10am(GMT +8) China’s Liu Shasha, who won this event here in Shenyang in 2009 at the age of 16, will face Taiwan’s Lin Yuan Chun, who won the world title a year earlier in Taipei.
In the second semi-final set to go off at 12 noon, China’s Han Yu will face veteran Taiwanese Tan Ho Yun. Both matches are race to 9, alternate break. The finals, which will be a race to 11, will commence at 5pm local time.
Nobody expected much from the 28 year old Lin today. Not that she isn’t capable. It’s just that since winning the world title in 2008, she hasn’t accomplished anything significant.
Things started well for Lin, however, as she defeated Korea’s popular and heavily favoured Ga Young Kim, 9-7 in a TV table match at 10am in the round of 16. Then, in the first quarterfinal of the day she met up with China’s Chen Siming, the 20 year old sharpshooter who is ranked World #3. Chen, considered perhaps the best pure shooter in the women’s game in China, came into this week as one of the favorites. She looked the goods in the round of 16 as she clinically dissected Hall of Famer Karen Corr, 9-3.
Recent past history suggested Chen would be the steadier player while Lin would find herself on the back foot early. However, just the opposite happened. Lin sprinted to a 4-0 lead in the race to 9, alternate break match, pouncing on several early mistakes by Chen.
Chen, as expected, finally collected herself and clawed her way back into the match, tying the score at 5-5, then moving ahead 6-5. Chen appeared to have finally found her terrific stroke, while Lin started feeling the heat and was clearly searching for answers. Lin, however, rediscovered her steady game that she had displayed earlier in the match and won the next four racks as Chen wilted down the stretch.
With a well played 9-6 win over one of the China’s pool stars, Lin, known in her heyday as “the Killer,” had now found herself in the semi-finals of the World Championship. Suddenly she was feeling some of that magic that brought her to the winner’s circle 5 years earlier.
“My first match today against Ga Young Kim on the TV table, I was nervous but she gave me a lot of chances,” Lin said through an interpreter. “Against Chen I was in a good frame of mind the whole match, like I was playing a normal match. Chen started playing well in the middle of the match and I started feeling the pressure. But in the later racks I broke well and I got my confidence back. At the same time, she didn’t have many chances.
“My goal is to finish in the top 3. I want to get my confidence back like it was back in 2008. The last few years have been difficult and I haven’t played well.
“The first few matches in the tournament, I lacked confidence. Only in big tournaments can I get back the feeling of being a killer.
“If my game continues on like this, I will feel confident on every shot. Then I can even afford to make a few mistakes. I’m in a good rhythm right now. I believe I have every chance to win this tournament especially if I have an open shot after the break.”
Lin, however, will have to play virtually mistake free pool, as she will go up against the now tournament favourite, China’s Liu Shasha in Monday’s first semi-final. The 20 year old Liu, who won the brutally tough China Open in May in Shanghai and won the world title in 2009 at the age of 16, brings a massive home court advantage, with estimates of 100 million people set to tune in on China’s CCTV. In addition, in her two matches today, Liu also showed she is downright unflappable.
In the round of 16 match, Liu handily defeated 2011 World 9-ball Champ, fellow Chinese, Bi Zhuqing. In the quarters Liu, currently world ranked number 2, met Taiwan’s Tsai Pei Chen, a semi-finalist last year here. Tsai had earlier come from behind to beat Japan’s Akimi Kajatani, 9-7.
Against Tsai, Liu took the lead at 2-1 and controlled the match most of the way. Up 8-5, she faltered a bit, and Tsai closed the gap to 8-7. But no matter the circumstances, Liu never changes her calm demeanour. Her fluid stroke and dead eyed potting get the job done as well. That was what carried her through a nervy 16th rack and a 9-7 win.
As a mob of fans gathered to try and get her autograph and photo, the ever polite Liu brushed off the notion that the home crowd puts pressure on her.
“Every match is hard in this competition,” she said through an interpreter. “But I feel good. There’s a lot of pressure but my fans give me strength to keep going. I want to pay them back for their support.”
Liu’s coach, Zhong Shuchun, explained the secret to Liu’s success and popularity with Chinese fans.
“She’s got a good attitude,” he said. “She’s never too proud, always humble and she fights hard. Chinese people like that.”
The third quarterfinal featured two talented Taiwanese so the steam had been let out of the TV table arena. But those who caught the match between Tan Ho Yun and Wei Tzu Chei were glad they did.
Tan will probably look back at August 11, 2013 as one of the most memorable days of her life. In the round of 16 the 30 year old from Taipei came up against defending champion Kelly Fisher. Up 7-3 and playing fast and looking sharp, nobody had any reason to believe that Fisher wouldn’t be seeing a spot in the quarters.
The score line moved to 8-6 but the match appeared to be over as Fisher was handily clearing the table and was shooting what looked to be a simple cut on the 9-ball. In practice she makes the shot 1 million times out of a million. But somehow she missed it. And, well, if you’ve watched enough 9-ball, you know the story. From there on in, the momentum, the balls, the mood, literally everything turned against Fisher. She left a safety wide open in the next rack and Tan cleared. In the final rack, Tan broke and pocketed 4 balls, then held her nerve for a dramatic 9-8 win as Fisher left the arena in shock.
Tan, a ten year veteran who now lives in Shanghai and who goes by the nickname “the Tornado,” had time to rest and she met up with Wei a few hours later. Wei, part of the new generation of talented Taiwanese players, had earlier looked impressive in beating Japan’s Chichiro Kawahara, 9-3.
Wei came out extremely flat, however, committing one mistake after the next and soon found herself in a deep ditch, down 7-1 in the race to 9, alternate break match. But then she found a groove and won 8 straight racks. Tan, who reached the quarters last year here, looked completely deflated but tied up the match at 8-all with a nervy run out.
The last rack offered up one of those lingering moments in championship 9-ball that make you realize why this game can be so fun to watch. With a career changing spot in the semi-finals of the world championship at stake, the two players engaged in a brilliant safety exchange that went on for ten minutes. Wei got the first opening but missed the 3-ball. Then, like she did against Fisher earlier, Tan buckled down for a superb clear and a spot in the semi-finals.
“I wasn’t worried when she was coming back,” Tan said through an interpreter. “I was just waiting for my chance. And I prayed to Jesus(laughs).”
Asked if she has any more miracles left for Monday’s grand finale, Tan quipped; “I wish. I pray I can do it. I will play like a Tornado no matter what happens.”
Tan will face off against China’s Han Yu. Han may not be known much outside of China, but she is one of seven members of China’s national women’s team, and she’s been knocking on the door of success for several years now. In 2009 she won the All Japan Open. In 2011 she took third in the Women’s World 9-ball Championship.
The 21 year old Han very nearly didn’t make it this far today. In the round of 16 today she pulled out a 9-8 thriller against fellow Chinese Chen Xue. Han showed incredible bravery in the final frame when she went for and pocketed a full table kick shot that would have made the great Efren Reyes stand up and applaud.
Han, who hails from Tangshen in Hebei province, faced off with Hall of Famer Allison Fisher in the last quarterfinal of the day. Fisher had ridden a bit of a magic carpet ride all week to get to this point. But the magic came to an end against the much sharper Han who put a strangle hold on the match from the start. Han won going away 9 – 5.
“I played well at the start,”Han said. “But at 8 – 2 I got careless.”
Han also seemed unfazed by the prospect of tens of millions of Chinese fans tuning in to root for her on Sunday.
“I don’t think about the people too much. I’m very confident right now. If I can win this world championship, it will be history.”
The winner of the 2103 WPA Women’s World 9-ball Championship will receive $40,000 while the runner up will receive $20,000. The total prize fund is $150,000.
*The World Pool-Billiard Association(WPA) will be on hand in Shenyang throughout the week bringing you all the drama from the 2013 Women’s World 9-ball Championship. WPA Press Officer Ted Lerner will be reporting from the Richgate Shopping Center with daily articles containing insight and analysis, as well as photos. Ted will also be manning the WPA Facebook page and Twitter feed and responding to fans queries and comments. Fans can also follow all matches via the WPA live scoring platform.
Please visit the WPA Facebook page for the 2013 Women’s World 9-ball Championship here; http://www.facebook.com/pages/2013-WPA-Womens-World-9-ball-Championship/360470447416060?ref=hl
Follow the WPA on Twitter: @poolwpa
Visit the official website of the WPA at www.wpapool.com
*The 2013 Women’s World 9-ball will be held in Shenyang, China from August 6-12, and is sanctioned by the World Pool & Billiard Association(WPA, the world governing body of the sport of pool. 64 women players from across the globe will compete for the biggest prize in Women’s Pool. The 2013 Women’s World 9-ball Championship is a WPA ranking event.
LinYuan Chun(TPE) 9 – 6 Chen Siming(CHN)
Liu Shasha(CHN) 9 – 7 Tsai Pei Chen(TPE)
Tan Ho Yun(TPE) 9 – 8 Wei Tzu Chein(TPE)
Han Yu(CHN) 9 – 5 Allison Fisher(GBR)
Semi-Finals, Race to 9, Alternate Break
Monday, August 12(GMT +8)
10am LinYuan Chun(TPE) vs. Liu Shasha(CHN)
12pm Tan Ho Yun(TPE) vs.
Match for 3rd Place, 3pm
Finals, Race to 11, Alternate Break, 5pm
Results Last 16
Chen Siming(CHN) 9 – 3 Karen Corr(IRL)
Lin Yuan Chun(TPE) 9 – 7 Kim Ga Young(KOR)
Tsai Pei Chen(TPE) 9 – 7 Akimi Kajatani(JPN)
Liu Shasha(CHN) 9 – 3 Bi Zhuqing(CHN)
Tan Ho Yun(TPE) 9 – 8 Kelly Fisher(GBR)
Wei Tzu Chein(TPE) 9 – 3 Chichiro Kawahara(JPN)
Han Yu(CHN) 9 – 8 Chen Xue(CHN)
Allison Fisher(GBR) 9 – 5 Wu Jing(CHN)