WPA Pool | Final Four Set for World 10-Ball Championship
WPA Pool | Final Four Set for World 10-Ball Championship

Mar 4, 2023 | Pro Billiard Series

Final Four Set for World 10-Ball Championship

Things weren’t looking so good for Francisco Sanchez Ruiz in the middle stages of his quarterfinal match against Aloysius Yapp.

He was trailing the young man from Singapore in 5-4 and was in the process of clearing the table to tie the match when the 7 ball he just had shot towards the corner pocket skidded and slid to the left of the hole, allowing Yapp to clear the table and take a two-rack advantage. After calling a time and splitting the next two racks, Sanchez Ruiz was now trailing 7-5 and was running out of chances.

That was until Yapp missed a 2 ball down the rail as the time clock was expiring. The Spaniard was able to get out, then won four of the next five racks to close out Yapp, 10-8, and reach the semifinals of the WPA World 10-Ball Championships at the Rio All-Suites Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas.

“I feel good, especially under pressure,” said Sanchez Ruiz. “To be honest, it was a really tough match with Yapp because he played really well but he missed a couple of shots and it gave me a chance.”

The Spaniard will now face Russia’s Fedor Gorst in the semifinals, who drubbed Denis Grabe of Estonia in his quarterfinal match, 10-3.

After beginning his day by eliminating Billiard Congress of America Hall of Famer Alex Pagulayan, 10-5, Sanchez Ruiz met Chinese Taipei’s Jung-Lin Chang, a player who the Spaniard eliminated in the round-of-16 at last year’s United States Open Pool Championship. He jumped out to an early 5-2 lead but Chang rattled off three straight racks to tie the match and gain momentum until a 4 ball buried within a cluster in the 11th rack forced him to play safe. He ultimately left an open shot on the ball and, rather than taking his first lead of the day, allowed the Spaniard to regain the lead, 6-5. Chang tied the match again then failed to pocket a ball on the break in the next game, then fouled during an exchange of safeties to allow Sanchez Ruiz back to regain the lead.

Both players struggled to maintain momentum, as the Spaniard promptly broke the balls and watched the cue ball sail off the table in the next game. With the 9 and 10 balls tied together near the center of the table, Chang elected to attempt a bank shot on the 9 ball and missed. His opponent cleared the table to increase his lead to 8-6 but again came up dry on the break in the next rack, allowing Chang to trim the deficit to a single game. He then had a chance to tie the match one more time but rattled the 6 ball in the corner pocket. The reigning World Pool champion cleared the table then again broke dry and Chang ran out the rack to pull to within 9-8 and appeared to be in position to tie the match again but misplayed position on the 7 ball. He attempted to pocket the ball with a jump shot but missed, handing the Spaniard a wide-open table and the victory.

“When you beat a guy like Chang, you feel confident,” said Sanchez Ruiz. “Every set is different but, with Yapp I played really good and so I’m really happy.”

Facing Yapp in the semifinals, he watched as his opponent turned two dry breaks from the Spaniard along with a break-and-run into an early 3-1 advantage. After Sanchez Ruiz rallied to win three of the next four to tie the match, Yapp used a one-rail kick in of the 3 ball and a jump shot on the 4 ball to run out and regain the lead, then increased the lead with the previously mentioned skid. After Sanchez Ruiz cut the lead to 7-6 on his opponent’s miss, Yapp left another opening to tie when he misplayed a safety in the 14thgame.

The Spaniard used strong safety play in the next two games to take a 9-7 lead but Yapp answered by forcing Sanchez Ruiz to lose a game by committing three fouls. Yapp had one last chance to tie the score in the 18th rack but failed to pocket a ball on the break and instead left a wide-open table, which his opponent used to close out the match.

In the evening quarterfinals, Joshua Filler of Germany jumped out to an early 6-1 lead against Chinese Taipei’s Ko Ping-Chung and cruised to a 10-3 victory. The former World Pool champion will now face Albania’s Eklent Kaci, who absorbed everything opponent Shane Van Boening could offer and survived, 10-7.

The two competitors split the first four games but Kaci clawed ahead and held a two-game the lead throughout much of match. Van Boening stole a game back with a dry break to cut the lead to 7-6 but failed to pocket a ball on his own opening shot, as Kaci increased his lead back to 8-6. Van Boening had another chance to cut into the lead when Kaci misplayed a safety on the 3 ball and gave his opponent a wide-open shot but American lost the rack when Kaci pocketed the 4 ball out of a safety played by Van Boening.

Now trailing 9-6, the former World Pool champion was able to steal a rack back when he forced the Albanian into a foul but again failed to pocket a ball on the break. After Kaci played a safe on the 7 ball, Van Boening had one more opportunity at the table but scratched while kicking at the ball after a safety, giving Kaci ball-in-hand and the victory.

The first semifinal match will begin at 11 a.m. local time, with Sanchez Ruiz facing Gorst, and the second match between Filler and Kaci will start at 2 p.m. The winners of the semifinals will meet in the finals, which are scheduled to begin at 5:30 p.m. local time. Matches can be watched on Billiard.TV and on World Billiard TV, the official YouTube channel of CueSports International.

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WPA Pool | Final Four Set for World 10-Ball Championship