Niels Feijen and James Aranas are the first names into the semi-finals of the 2023 World Pool Masters in Brentwood, Essex after the afternoon session live on Sky Sports in the UK, DAZN in the USA, and networks worldwide.
Feijen came into the quarter-finals fresh off the back of defeating reigning champion Joshua Filler where the Dutchman came from behind whilst his opponent Max Lechner was looking to write the wrongs of his last major moment in a Matchroom event that saw him miss out in the 2022 US Open final.
Lechner started out the better of the pair opening up an initial advantage at 3-0 but Feijen found a rhythm to come back in at 3-0. Both players were struggling to get to grips with the break and it showed with lengthy safety battles the theme of the match off the break. From 3-3, Feijen swung it in his favour to 5-3 and looked composed with one eye on another World Pool Masters semi-final. Mad Max though wasn’t done just yet and came fighting back to 5-5.
Feijen raced to 10-5 up with 11 the target for victory and it seemed it was nearly job done for the man who last lifted the crown in 2018. Lechner got back to the table in the 16th rack after Feijen was left with very few options off the break to allow his opponent in for 10-6. With the break, Lechner was hoping to rustle up something to get him back into the contest but it was shortlived as a scratch left Feijen with an easy 2-9 for victory.
“I started shaky. It was a nervy start. It took me a while but that’s the positive thing with long races, even if you have a poor start, I think in the middle and to the end, I had a great session. I was executing much better. In the end, I got a roll when he scratched off the nine and I had a 2-9 for the win. It was a squeezing and grinding game. I will chill out now and put another hour of practice in to try and get the break timing better. I started making the one in the end. Recover from now and I’ll build up energy for tomorrow.
Wiktor Zielinski headed into the quarter-finals looking to emulate Karol Skowerski and become the second Pole to win the World Pool Masters whilst James Aranas was looking to do what Dennis Orcollo did in 2010 by lifting the crown. The early knockings went in the favour of Zielinski who led 3-1 but in truth, that was the Pole’s best moments in the contest it turned out.
At 5-4, Zielinski’s frailties with the break came through again as a dry one brought Aranas back to the table. Despite the dry break, Zielinski did get back to the table only to scratch when kicking on the bank to put Aranas in for 6-4. Error strewn was a key term when it came to the match and another from Zielinski saw him miss the two when it seemed he had a rack in front of him, from there, Aranas came through to asset a three-rack buffer.
In the following rack, it was Aranas’ turn for an error with a dry break bringing Zielinski to the table who closed the deficit once again to two. Soon, Zielinski had another moment of chaos on the table to bring Aranas in and it was 8-5, a contest that ebbed and flowed where confidence was seemingly key to wear the contest would head. Zielinski tried to kick out of a safety in the following rack but fouled again to allow Aranas in again for 9-5, in a rack where initially the Filipino had broken dry for the fourth time.
A familiar tale continued in the 15th rack as Aranas broke dry but again an error from Zielinski this time on the seven put the former three balls away from the hill yet he failed to steal the advantage with a miss on the 8 allowing Zielinski back to 9-6. Fortunes did turn for Zielinski with a golden break to put him at 9-7 and right back in it before a dish up put him one behind.
As comebacks go, this one seemed unlikely given the way the match had gone for Zielinski but another golden break took him level at 9-9, the first time the pair had been level since 3-3. With the table at his mercy, Zielinski left a safety short of cover to bring Aranas in to reach the hill first. Aranas struggled consistently with the break and with a sixth dry one of the week Zielinski came in to make it hill-hill, the first one of the week.
The drama wasn’t done just yet as Zielinski was hooked to leave Aranas in to eventually complete victory and meet either Shane Van Boening or Ko Pin Yi in the semi-finals.
The quarter-final action wraps up from 6:30 pm UK time tonight with Eklent Kaci meeting Mario He ahead of a tantalising clash between Van Boening and Ko.
Watch live on Sky Sports in the UK, DAZN in the USA, Spain, Italy, and Brazil as well as on Viaplay in the Netherlands, Poland, Scandinavia, and the Baltics. If no broadcaster is available in your country, watch the action on Matchroom.Live. See where to watch in your country here.
The World Pool Masters returns to the UK for the first time since 2015 with a fresh look as the field reverts back to 16 players with 14 of the 16 automatically earning their place from the World Nineball Tour Rankings with two wild cards completing the field. Round 1 matches are Race to 9 with quarter and semi-final encounters Race to 11 before the final stretches to a Race to 13 for the first time. The prize fund has also been bolstered to $125,000 with the winner taking home $40,000.