World Nineball Tour number one and home favourite Francisco Sanchez Ruiz has been knocked out of the 2023 Spanish Open Pool Championship at Pazo de Feiras e Congresos de Lugo, Spain in partnership with The Asociación Gallega de Billar Pool (AGP), live on DAZN in Spain, the USA, Italy, and Brazil, Viaplay in Scandinavia, the Baltics and Poland as well as live on Sky Sports.
Sanchez Ruiz entered the week as the hot bookies favourite but fumbled in the Last 64 in a hill hill defeat to WNT No. 19 Oliver Szolnoki in what set the tone for a dramatic day of Nineball in the Galacian region of Spain. The contest with Szolnoki ebbed and flowed with Sanchez Ruiz reaching the hill first only for Szolnoki to bite back and put the Spaniard under it. At hill-hill, Szolnoki broke but Sanchez Ruiz got back to the table making a tricky six and eight only to leave himself with an awkward position on the nine. Sanchez Ruiz played it up the rail only to see it rattle in the pocket leaving him to concede and put Szolnoki into the Last 32.
Big names tumbled throughout the early afternoon with James Aranas slayed by Wu Jia Qing in a remarkable comeback for the Chinese cueist who was back on the Matchroom stage for the first time since 2019. Mario He got the better of Gary Wilson in a repeat of a contest played out earlier in the week with World Snooker Tour star Wilson unable to repeat his feat of reaching the UK Open last 16. Ko Ping Chung was humbled by Alexander Kazakis 10-3 whilst Emil André Gangflot put on the best win of his career at the time to see of Johann Chua in a tough contest.
As the temperature in Northern Spain cranked up, the heat was clearly being felt in the arena with tensions building with vital World Nineball Tour Ranking points on the line which open up the gateways to the biggest invitational tournaments on the calendar.
Wu’s early escapades over Aranas couldn’t be replicated as former Finnish national champion Jani Uski gave him a taste of his own medicine to come from behind in a hill hill win to reach the final 16. Jayson Shaw’s tournament was cut short by Daniel Maciol of Poland 10-7 and Konrad Juszczyszyn who won the Bucharest Open last week lost out hill hill to Duong Quoc Hoang in another contest that few could have predicted playing out like it did.
In the tie of the round, Skyler Woodward met Mosconi Cup teammate and World Cup of Pool partner for next week Shane Van Boening with the latter taking the early advantage only for Woodward to turn the screw and come back strong 10-8 for a second Last 16 berth in as many tournaments. Albin Ouschan lived to fight another day also coming from behind to knock out Portugal’s Miguel Silva hill hill having been 9-5 down.
Ko Pin Yi’s hunt for a maiden Matchroom signature multi-table open title goes on into the weekend after getting the better of Imran Majid from Great Britain meaning no Brits will be in the last 16 setting up a clash with Naoyuki Oi tomorrow afternoon with the Japanese star coming good against He 10-7. Eklent Kaçi is looking for back-to-back titles having snapped off the UK Open just a few weeks ago and he broke Spanish hearts seeing off two-time World Pool Masters winner David Alcaide.
Eklent’s brother Kledio’s dream debut on the World Nineball Tour continued with victory over USA Mosconi Cup hopeful Tyler Styer 10-6 meaning Albania will be the country with the most representation in the final 16.
China will have representation on Saturday though, with Dang Jin Hu thumping Bashar Hussain Abdulmajeed 10-4 with the scoreline at 9-1 before a small comeback from Abdulmajeed. Dang will take on Gangflot who did one better than his win over Chua to knock out Joshua Filler in a hill hill victory that seemed a long time coming with the German looking to peg him back throughout. The result meant two of the top ten in the world will not make the final two days.
Ko Pin Yi (TPE) vs Naoyuki Oi (JPN)
Skyler Woodward (USA) vs Kledio Kaci (ALB)
Duong Quoc Hoang (VIE) V Sanjin Pehlivanovic (BOS)
Dang Jin Hu (CHN) V Emil Andre Gangflot (NOR)
Fedor Gorst V Daniel Maciol (POL)
Albin Ouschan (AUT) V Pijus Labutis (LTU)
Marc Bijsterbosch (NED) V Jani Uski (FIN)
Eklent Kaci (ALB) V Joao Grilo (POR)
Tomorrow begins from 1 pm with the Last 16 before the evening session whittles it down to the final four. Match odds can be found online through various online gaming websites.
Live rack-by-rack scoring will be available throughout the event at www.matchroompool.com thanks to our partners PRP.
Wherever you are in the world, you will be able to sweat the action with broadcasters globally and live on the Matchroom Pool and Multi Sport YouTube channels in selected territories and on Matchroom.Live. UK and Ireland based fans can see the final two days on Sky Sports. Fans in the USA will be able to watch all six days live on DAZN whilst those in Scandinavia, the Baltics, Poland, and Netherlands can watch live on Viaplay. Fans in the Philippines meanwhile will be able to sweat the action on TAP Go and those in Vietnam on VietContent channels.
The FSR Junior Open got underway for the first time with Sanchez Ruiz watching on as the stars of tomorrow aged 17 and under started their battle for the $10,000 prize fund and free entry to the 2024 Spanish Open Pool Championship. See live scores for the tournament here with the final set to be live on the Matchroom Multi Sport YouTube tomorrow.
The Spanish Open Pool Championship is one of five 256-player field tournaments promoted by Matchroom on the World Nineball Tour in partnership with The Asociación Gallega de Billar Pool (AGP), with players set to fight through a seeded double elimination stage led by the top 128 on the World Nineball Tour Rankings before only 64 make it to the single elimination rounds.