Fisher Golden in Women’s Pool Finals
Kelly Fisher 9-5 Chieh-Yu Chou
Great Britain’s Kelly Fisher arrived at this week’s World Games in Birmingham wanting to feel the event’s full experience – staying in the athlete’s village with competitors from other countries and rubbing elbows with those athletes all week.
Saturday night, Fisher achieved the ultimate World Games experience: winning a gold medal. The Billiard Congress of America Hall of Famer battled back from an early deficit against Chinese Taipei’s Chieh-Yu Chou with some stout safety play paired with some fortune to win her first-ever gold medal in the women’s 9-ball competition. 9-5. The medal is the second she’s won at the Games. Having earned bronze when the competition was in Colombia in 2013.
“I don’t know how to describe how I feel,” she said after the match. “It meant so much to me. It was the title that I never won. I never had a gold medal. It’s a dream come true, honestly.”
The early stage of the match belonged to Chou, who used two breaks and runs along with an unforced error by Fisher to win three straight racks to open the set. After the two competitors traded breaks and runs and Chou maintained a 4-1 lead, Fisher started to realize that her dreams of gold might soon fade if she didn’t start winning racks soon.
“At one point I’m falling down thinking I just need to get going,” she said. “I’ve not really had much of a have a go yet and it might be too late.”
It wasn’t, as the Brit whittled away at the lead and tied the match when she broke and ran twice and took advantage of a missed shot by her opponent on her way to three consecutive wins.
Fisher claimed the next two racks thanks to fortunate rolls more than effective play. After winning a safety exchange on the 2 ball, she appeared to be on her way to another win until she pushed the 4 ball left of the corner pocket. The object ball rolled to a spot where it was blocked by the 7 ball, which forced Chou to execute a kick shot which resulted in a scratch, allowing Fisher to clear the table. She had similar circumstances in the next game when she missed a shot at the 1 ball but watched as it too rolled to a safe position on the table. After a lengthy safety exchange, the Brit again found an opening and cleared the table to grab a 6-4 advantage.
After winning a safety exchange on the 1 ball after her break, Chou appeared to be in position to close out the 11thrack and close the gap until she pushed the winning 9 ball to the side of the pocket, allowing Fisher to come to the table and take a 7-4 lead with one stroke.
“I think that it is easy to underestimate that shot and I think that’s what I did,” said Chou through a translator after the match.
The young woman from Chinese Taipei would recover by winning another safety exchange in the following game and running out this time, cutting the lead to 7-5. She was unable to continue the momentum in the next rack as she committed two unforced errors, failing to touch a rail on an attempted safety during one trip to the table and miscuing on another, as Fisher cleared the table again to build an 8-5 lead.
With the medal now within reach, Fisher broke and pocketed a ball but did not have a clear shot at the 1 ball. After a safety exchange on both the 1 and 2 balls, the Brit found a clear path to the winning runout when Chou left her an opening, raising her cue over her head in triumph after she pocketed the match-clinching 9-ball.
“I think I had a very like good start and, overall, a good game, but Kelly is a very good player and she works hard,” said Chou. “She had a good situation today too.”
BRONZE MEDAL MATCH
Yuki Hiraguchi 9-7 Veronika Ivanovskaia
Kelly Fisher 9-5 Yuki Hiraguchi
Chieh-Yu Chou 9-3 Veronika Ivanovskaia
Fisher reached the final having overcome a handful of errors down the stretch to hold off a comeback by Japan’s Yuki Hiraguchi, 9-5 in the semifinals Saturday morning. Fisher will now face Chinese Taipei’s Chieh-Yu Chou in the championship match later tonight.
It was the tale of two matches for Fisher, who used two breaks and runs coupled with a scratch on the break and a dry break by her opponent to build a quick 4-0 lead, then adding three more victories after Hiraguchi climbed onto the scoreboard with a win in the fifth rack. The Brit began to sputter in the match’s late stages, leaving her opponent makeable shots while attempting to play defense, as the young girl from Japan rattled off four straight wins to trim the deficit to 7-5.
“It was my safety play. My safety play was just off,” said Fisher. “I was either over-hitting it or under-hitting it.”
Fisher was able to use a combination shot on the 9 ball in the 13th rack and a tricky break-and-run where she left herself multiple shots with involved sharp cuts to close out the match and prevail.
“Overall, I’m happy with my performance,” said Fisher. “There’s a lot of pressure out there. If you lose that, there’s no guarantee that you’re going home with a medal.”
Regardless of her performance tonight, Fisher has already secured her best performance in World Games competition, having earned bronze in Colombia at the 2013 games and failing to earn one in Poland five years ago.
While Fisher stumbled her way across the finish line in her semifinal match, her opponent Chou seemed to get better. After splitting the first six games with Germany’s Veronika Ivanovskaia, Chou capitalized on a handful of opportunities down the stretch to win six straight racks and cruise to a 9-3 decision.
Prior to the gold medal match, the German and Hiraguchi met to determine the winner of the bronze medal, with the young girl from Japan coming from behind to earn a bronze medal with a 9-7 win.
Ivanovskaia jumped out to an early 4-2 advantage until a missed 3 ball in the seventh game gave her opponent life, as Hiraguchi won five of the next six to surge ahead 7-5. The German wasn’t finished, taking advantage of a victorious safety exchange to tie the match at 7-7, but Hiraguchi used stellar shot making down the stretch to pull off the win.
The Olympic Channel is live streaming The World Games and billiards will feature on July 16 and July 17 when the finals take place. A full streaming schedule and links are at https://www.theworldgames.org/pages/twg2022streaming. The match schedule, results, and live scores are at esnooker.pl
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