Joshua Filler’s mission to defend his UK Open Pool Championship title gathered pace at the Copper Box Arena in London with a 10-6 win over Riku Romppanen in the Last 16 live on Sky Sports in the UK, DAZN in the USA and Italy, Viaplay in Scandinavia, Baltics, Netherlands and Poland, Sport1 in Germany and broadcasters worldwide including Matchroom.Live.
Filler knew he would have to bring his A-game if he was to see past Romppanen with the Fin becoming the youngest-ever player to reach the Last 16 of a Matchroom event. Romppanen looked unfazed early on and right at home under the TV lights to take the opening rack before Filler started to show his prowess. The stock of Romppanen has been ever-growing over the last 12 months but against Filler it did prove to be much tougher going. Filler’s experience in the end showing to keep his opponent at arms length as he came through 10-6 to reach the evening quarter-finals against Mieszko Fortunski.
World Snooker Tour’s No. 15 Gary Wilson’s incredible run to the final two days was ended at the hands of World Nineball Tour No.1 Francisco Sanchez Ruiz who looked on a mission to reach the quarter-finals for a second consecutive year. Sanchez Ruiz was made to sweat early on as Wilson rallied to lead 2-0 before the Spaniard hit back to level up at two apiece and soon lead 4-2. There were glimmers of hope for Wilson with an uncharacteristic error on the eight in the seventh allowing Wilson to cut the lead to one. It was nip and tuck for the majority of the first half of the match but Sanchez Ruiz showed his winning streak in the Matchroom arena in classic fashion orchestrating a brilliant finish and a 10-5 win to meet Skyler Woodward in the evening for a spot in the semi-finals.
Woodward meanwhile came through his own test in rising Filipino star Kyle Amoroto. Amoroto making his debut in a Matchroom event this week raced into a 6-3 lead without doing very little wrong for the three racks lost but Woodward showed stern resistance to keep pace and win the next seven racks in a row to secure a quarter-final clash in the evening session.
The other two USA hopes in Shane Wolford and Shane Van Boening was ended in different circumstances but nothing coming close to the excruciating nature of the former’s hill hill defeat to Fortunski. Former World Pool Masters semi-finalist, Fortunski looked good for the win at 9-6 but Wolford wasn’t done yet with the American youngster looking to make a statement in his hunt for a maiden Mosconi Cup appearance later this year. Wolford battled away to hill-hill with a brilliant inner strength to hold off any attempt Fortunski had to get the job done but the last rack had it all and not in the way Wolford will have wanted it to go. The pair were locked in a long safety battle before it looked like Wolford had a breakthrough given ball in hand after locking up Fortunski in a hook. It was a tricky position with ball in hand and a 1-6 combo was the only option. Wolford made it only to be left hooked himself behind the nine. Wolford kicked brilliantly on the one but was again left with no position on the two and soon Fortunski was back at the table to sweep in and secure victory.
Van Boening’s tournament hopes were dashed by Eklent Kaçi who was on his own one-man mission to write the wrongs of defeat in the World Pool Masters final just a few weeks ago. In truth, Kaçi left Van Boening trailing in his wake despite the South Dakota Kid taking the opening rack. Kaçi hit back and kept Van Boening at bay with little room for error along the way. Van Boening is yet to really suss the new Matchroom break and those woes continued as Kaçi went into a 7-3 lead. The deficit was cut to 7-4 by Van Boening but that hope was short lived as Kaçi pulled through to meet Ko Ping Chung next.
Ko Pin Yi continued his remarkable month of it with a comprehensive win over WNT No. 31 Moritz Neuhausen of Germany 10-3 joining brother Ping Chung in the final eight with the younger of the pair knocking out the only remaining British hopeful in Chris Melling. Melling looked good value to come back in a contest where Ping Chung did all the early running but it was always enough to see it through. It was another solid run for Melling but one that will leave him wanting more as he looks to reassert himself in Nineball.
The final quarter-final spot was locked up by Dimitris Loukatos who looked visibly moved by his week’s work so far coming good against Italy’s Francesco Candela who was also making his debut in the latter stages of a Matchroom event. Loukatos coming good 10-7 with the pair locked up at various points including at 6-6. Ko Pin Yi awaits next for the Greek.
The inaugural JS Junior Open continued with the quarter and semi-finals resulting in Maks Benko and Mika Van Berkel reaching the final for a shot at the $2,500 first place prize. Juniors aged 17 and under all came to London hoping to make a name for themselves as an up-and-coming superstar. With host Shaw watching on and welcoming, action was fast-paced as they compete for their part of the $10,000 prize fund as well as a free spot in the 2024 UK Open. All players were provided with a free jersey from partners Onboard Sportswear as well as welcome pack that included tips and chalk from KAMUI. The final of the JS Junior Open will be live-streamed live on the Matchroom Multi Sport YouTube channel thanks to the partners mentioned above and Cuetec, Diamond Billiards, Iwan Simonis, and Aramith Balls.
Match odds are available daily through online gaming websites with outright odds for the 2023 UK Open Pool Championship also available. Outright odds are available online with Filler at 10/3 and Sanchez Ruiz at 4/1 with Ko Pin Yi at 9/2 and Ping Chung at 9/1.
Live rack-by-rack scoring is available throughout the event at www.matchroompool.com thanks to our partner PRP.
The final two days are live on Sky Sports in the UK and Ireland with fans in the USA, Italy and Brazil able to watch on DAZN whilst those in Scandinavia, Baltics, Netherlands and Poland able to sweat the action on Viaplay. Those in Germany, Austria and Switzerland can see the final two days on Sport1 whilst fans in the Philippines able to watch in TAP Go.
Tickets are available from £15 a day to enjoy the action inside one of London’s most historic sporting venues. Tickets are limited for the weekend. Buy tickets here.
Session Times – UK time
Saturday, 3 June – 6 pm – 10:30 pm
Sunday, 4 June – 12 pm – 4:30 pm / 6 pm – 9:30 pm