Wojciech Szewczyk has won the PRP Nineball Open in Zaragoza, Spain beating Aleksa Pecelj in the final 9-6 to claim a vital $12,000 World Nineball Tour ranking points and move inside the top 16 in the world as well as 5th in the Race to Mosconi Cup standings for Team Europe.
A 128-strong field where over 20 countries were represented descended on the Spanish city to do battle in a stacked field with the likes of WNT No.1 and Spaniard Francisco Sanchez Ruiz, World Pool Championship runner-up Mohammad Soufi of Syria, Khalid Alghamdi, Niels Feijen, and Alexander Kazakis amongst the much-fancied names battling it out for the top prize.
On Thursday, Pecelj battled through the Last 64 beating Greece’s Nikolaos Chatoupis before dismantling Great Britain’s Imran Majid 9-3 to reach the Last 16. The Serbian’s deepest run at a World Nineball Tour ranking event came at Matchroom UK’s Open last year prior to this where he reached the quarter-finals and he continued on his ascent in Spain with victories over Max Lechner and Denis Grabe in the Last 16 and quarter-finals respectively to make the last four.
The last remaining Spaniard Francisco Diaz stood in Pecelj’s way of reaching the final but he quickly found a groove late on Thursday evening to dispatch him 9-5 and set up a tantalising final with Szewczyk.
Szewczyk meanwhile defeated rising star of Estonia Karl Gnadeberg before overcoming Andrea Milioli of Italy in the Last 32 and an impressive 9-1 win against SVB Junior Open winner Alghamdi. Lithuania’s Pijus Labutis took Szewczyk to the hill in the quarters before Premier League Pool semi-finalist Sanjin Pehlivanovic was sent packing 9-6.
Sanchez Ruiz’s home hopes were dashed by the impressive Pehlivanovic in the quarter-finals whilst it was Diaz who ended Alcaide’s hopes in the Last 64. Players travelled from far and wide to earn the vital World Nineball Ranking Points like the 2022 Mosconi Cup representative for the USA Oscar Dominguez but his race was run by France’s Noel Bensaid. 2021 World Pool Masters champion Alexander Kazakis had his tournament ended by close friend Dimitris Loukatos in the Last 32.
Elsewhere, Bosnia Open winner Niels Feijen suffered at the hands of Alghamdi in the Last 32, and Austria’s Mario He fell at the same hurdle to Konrad Juszczyszyn of Poland.
When it came to the final, Pecelj overall did a lot of the running early doors but it was Szewczyk who pulled through to seal victory having started the week on the losers side of the draw. He said: “At some point when I got close, I got lucky at times but later on, I watched how Aleksa struggled with his break and then I found mine. I had some faith right then. I played really bad in the first round and I did have some luck since then but then I found my gear in the semi-final especially. There are more points to gather, I’d love to make the Mosconi Cup but for now I will enjoy this victory.
Coverage was enhanced this week with on-site support from the World Nineball Tour team with coverage provided through the Matchroom Pool social media channels as well as live stream coverage of the two semi-finals and the final on the Matchroom Pool YouTube channel which bolstered the PRP Nineball Open exposure globally with fans tuning in their thousands to sweat the action.
Next World Nineball Tour Ranking Event
The World Nineball Tour continues at a pace with the Bob Stock Memorial 9-Ball Open next up this weekend (April 22-23) in Virginia, USA where the likes of Fedor Gorst, Skyler Woodward, and Billy Thorpe will all face off. See more on how to sweat the action from Virginia over the weekend here.