FU XIAO FANG WINS CHINA OPEN GOING AWAY
Story and Photo by Ted Lerner
(Shanghai, China)–Playing virtually mistake free 9-ball, and seemingly immune to the pressure, Fu Xiao Fang defeated fellow Chinese and defending champion Chen Siming 9-3 to capture the China Open championship Sunday afternoon in Shanghai.
With her impressive victory, Fu won $30,000 and cemented her status as China’s best player. She has now won two major tournaments in the last year, including the World 9-ball championship held last September in Shenyang, China. In addition to stamping her class on the highly popular and competitive world of women’s pool in China, the victory now moves the 25 year old to the top of the world rankings.
The match, played in front of several hundred people inside the Shanghai Pudong Yuanshen Stadium, and an estimated nationwide television viewing audience of over ten million people watching on China’s CCTV, was expected to be much closer. But the usually unflappable Chen made some uncharacteristic mistakes, all of which cost the 17 year old phenom dearly.
The two stars split the first four racks before Fu grabbed the lead and, from there, hightailed it all the way to the title. In the fifth rack Chen twice fouled, the last one leading to a nervy and difficult clear for Fu. In rack six, Fu and Chen engaged in a long safety battle, before Chen missed an open shot on the 1. Fu then ran out for a two rack lead.
Chen couldn’t seem to get comfortable while Fu just stayed steady, and Fu soon went up 5-2. Chen faced a pivotal rack in the next frame and after missing an opening on a long 1 ball, she went on to play a lock down safety that earned her the point. Little did she know, however, that it would be the last rack she would win.
Fu just refused to buckle and would hold a tight reign on the proceedings the rest of the way. A terrific long pot on the six down the rail won her the next rack for a 6-3 lead. Chen fouled twice in the subsequent frame and Fu moved up by 4. Then Fu broke and ran out to go on the hill.
In the final rack, Chen broke but got nothing down and left an open shot on the 1 ball. From there the balls presented a basic layout and Fu cleared to claim the title.
“I played really well,” Fu told a throng of Chinese media after the match. “The pressure was big but Siming had some mistakes and maybe I have more experience than her in big events.”
Chen claims $15,000 for getting runner up and will now move down to the second spot in the WPA world rankings.