by Ted Lerner

(Doha, Qatar)--With nerves fraying and tension coursing throughout the Al Sadd Sports Club, the USA’s Shane Van Boening stepped up and potted some of the most clutch shots of his career, as he took down England’s Darren Appleton in a sudden death heart stopper, and moved into the quarter finals of the 2011 World 9-Ball Championship in Doha, Qatar.

The entertaining and high quality affair between the two greats was one of 8 simultaneous matches in the final 16, most of which turned into edge of the seat affairs as the race to pool’s most prestigious title kicked into high gear.

Van Boening looked like he would control the match when he took a 6-3 lead. But Appleton showed his bottle and tied it at 6 all. From there the duo engaged in a toe to toe battle of pressure shot making that will long be remembered by those who saw it. Appleton went up 7-6, then Van Boening moved ahead 8-7. A brilliant long cut on the 1 ball by Appleton tied it at 8. Then the pair each broke and ran racks to tie the match at 9.

Appleton reached the hill first when he made two tough pots off a miss by Van Boening. But the American responded with a difficult jump and pot, plus two subsequent highly difficult shots to take it to a one game decider.

In the wildly tense last rack Van Boening played a lock down safety, which Appleton studied for ten minutes. The resulting shot left Van Boening a full table cut on the four off the rail and considering the circumstances, it was a shot few people could have successfully executed. After pondering his options for what seemed like an eternity, the American nailed the ball in the center of the pocket and found a clear path for the winner.

The sensational victory now puts Van Boening into tonight’s quarter finals, where he’ll play surprise entry Mark Gray of England. After taking down red hot Chris Melling earlier in the day, Gray, whose confidence has been growing by the day, had a bit of an easier time against the Philippines Antonio Gabica, winning 11-5.

Gray’s good mate Daryl Peach also made it through to the quarterfinals after he came back from 9-7 down for a gutsy 11-9 win over Taiwan’s Ko Pin Yi. Up until this point in the tournament, Ko and Peach had been playing some of the best pool in the arena. But when the chips were down, Ko seemed to lose his composure, while the 2007 World 9-ball Champion appeared better equipped to handle the tension filled situation.

Peach now takes his confidence onto the TV table where he faces an equally confident Dennis Orcullo. Orcullo earlier took down defending champion Francisco Bustamante with relative ease, 11-6. Bustamante seemed to have run out of gas after going hill-hill in his previous match with Indonesia’s Riyan Setiawan. The world number one Orcullo, however, just seems to be hitting his peak, and it’s no secret that anything less than the title will be a major disappointment for the Filipino. Thus the race to 11 alternate break quarterfinal match between Orcullo and Peach is the perfect fit for the millions who will be watching around the Middle East.

2006 World 9-ball Champion Ronnie Alcano continued his impressive run in this year’s event by downing a very strong Chang Yu Lun of Taiwan, 11-9, in another very tense contest. The two battled back and forth with the lead changing hands several times during the match. Alcano finally took over at 9-9 and closed out the match.

Alcano now faces Toru Kuribayashi of Japan in another quarterfinal match. Kuribayashi defeated the Philippines veteran Antonio Lining, 11-8.

Kuribayashi’s compatriot Yukio Akakariyama continued his impressive run in world championship events, when he outlasted the Philippines Carlo Biado, 11-9. Akakariyama led throughout the match but couldn’t get more than two racks on Biado. As the match wore on the pressure of the moment got to both players, especially the Japanese, who very nearly gave it all away on several occasions. Biado, though, didn’t seem to want it any more than his opponent and Akakariyama limped to the finish line and a berth in the quarterfinals.

Akakariyama now faces a surprise Filipino entry, Vinancio Tanio. The 40 year old Tanio defeated Germany’s Ralf Souquet, 11-9, in a tight match which saw the Filipino hold off every attack from the German great. Tanio, who lives in Dubai and works as a coach for the UAE national team, has won all seven of his matches in this year’s world championship.

All four race to 11 quarterfinals matches will take place this evening at the Al Sadd Sports Club in Doha. The race to 11 semi-finals will be held simultaneously on Friday and begin at 3pm local time.(GMT + 3 hours). The final will be a race to 13 and will begin at 7pm local time.

The WPA will be providing complete coverage from inside the Al Sadd Sports club throughout the tournament. Fans around the world can follow matches as they happen via our live scoring platform. The live scoring button can be seen on the front page of the WPA’s new and improved website, www.wpa-pool.com . There you can also see the brackets icon which will give you updated standings from each group and the knockout stage.

Fans can also get instant updates, insights and scores by following the WPA on Twitter. Our Twitter user name is @poolwpa. You can go directly to our Twitter page at, http://twitter.com/poolwpa.

In addition, the WPA will be providing insights and analysis with articles posted several times daily on the WPA home page.

To view the brackets for the knockout stage please click here. Or click the Brackets button the home page of the WPA at www.wpa-pool.com Scroll down to the bottom of the PDF file to the see the knockout stage brackets.

Below are the results of all Round of 16 matches

Round of 16 Matches. Race to 11, Alternate Break,

Vicenc io Tanio(PHL) 11 – 9 Ralf Souquet(GER)
Yukio Akakariyama(JPN) 11 – 9 Carlo Biado(PHL) vs
Mark Gray(GBR) 11 – 5 Antonio Gabica(PHL)
Shane Van Boening(USA) 11 – 10 Darren Appleton(GBR) vs.
Daryl Peach(GBR) 11 – 9 Ko Pin Yi(TPE)
Toru Kuribayashi(JPN) 11 – 8 Antonio Lining(PHL)
Ronnie Alcano(PHL) 11 -9 Chang Yu Lun(TPE)
Dennis Orcullo(PHL) 11-6 Francisco Bustamante(PHL)

Quarterfinals Race to 11, Alternate Break 7pm(GMT + 3 hours)

Vicenc io Tanio(PHL) vs. Yukio Akakariyama(JPN)
Shane Van Boening(USA) vs. Mark Gray(GBR)
Ronnie Alcano(PHL) vs. Toru Kuribayashi(JPN)
Dennis Orcullo(PHL) vs. Daryl Peach(GBR)

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