MANNA FROM HEAVEN
Story and Photo by Ted Lerner
(Shanghai, China)The thick, hazy skies finally opened up over Shanghai this afternoon, bringing with it torrential downpours and booming sounds of thunder and lightning. Inside the Shanghai Pudong Yuanshen Stadium the unmistakable sounds of the summer monsoons would surely be interpreted differently on Judgment Day here at the third annual China Open 9-Ball tournament. For some, it was manna from heaven. For others, the inclement weather spelled certain doom and gloom.
16 more players from the men’s side were counting their rainy day blessings at the conclusion of the first two sessions on day 2 of the $275,000 event. They now join the eight players from day 1 with spots in the final 32 single elimination knockout stage which begins tomorrow.
One of the happiest players in the arena this afternoon was Britain’s Scott Higgins. Playing on the losers side of his group, Higgins drew the legend, Efren Reyes of the Philippines in a do or die match for both players. It was Higgins first time to play the Hall of Famer, and the barrel chested Brit used the pressure to his advantage, buckling down for a solid 9-3 win.
“I broke and ran four times and capitalized on some of his mistakes,” a clearly excited Higgins said afterwards. “You want to beat him because he’s a legend. But the most important thing is that I qualified for the last 32. I don’t think I’d ever want to play him for money, though.”
After handily winning his first match yesterday afternoon, Reyes lost in the evening session to Japan Yukio Akagariyama, and with his second loss today, is now out of the tournament.
Earlier in the day Higgins mate and countryman Darren Appleton showed he is in fine form, defeating Vietnam’s Luong Chi Duong 9-6 for a spot in the final 32. Fellow Brit Karl Boyes wasn’t so fortunate, though, as he fell to China’s Wang Can 9-8. Wang now moves to the knockout stage while Boyes has to come back for the evening session for another crack.
The USA’s Shane Van Boening won two straight so far, and with his well played 9-6 victory over Kwok Chi Ho of Chinese Taipei, he moves into the final 32.
“I’ve never won a tournament in Asia,” Van Boening said. “I don’t know what the problem has been but I’d like to finally win one over here.”
In one of most exciting matches from the first session Hsu Kailun of Chinese-Taipei came back against Ronnie Alcano and won 9-8 to claim a spot in the knockout stage. Alcano now has to return tonight to try again to advance. Hsu’s countryman Ko Pin Yi also advanced by the slimmest of margins with a 9-8 victory over China’s Wu Hao.
The day’s second session was devoted mostly to sudden death matches with players looking to advance from the loser’s side of their groups. The Philippines Antonio Lining played his usual calm and collected style and won 9-4 over Japan’s Lo Li Wen. Fu Jan Bo put the smile on the faces of the home town crowd as he knocked out Britain’s Daryl Peach with a 9-5 victory. The Netherlands’ Neils Feijin moved through, beating former world champion Fong Pang Chao, 9-6. China’s national champion Liu Haitao moved through with a 9-6 win over the Philippines John Salazar.
Chinese-Taipei’s Zhang Yulong also claimed a spot in the final 32 with a 9-7 win over Ralf Souquet. Souquet’s first loss sets up a do or die marquee match in the evening session versus the Philippines Francisco Bustamante. Busti had earlier defeated Dan Jinhu of China 9-3. 8 more men will advance out of the men’s side this evening to complete the field of 32.
Most of the matches in the women’s event will be held in the two evening sessions. The women’s field will be cut from 48 to 16 after today’s play is completed.
The China Open 9-ball runs through Sunday, June 12. For the current brackets please click the Live Scoring/Results link and then look for the brackets icon.