World Nineball Tour No.1 and world champion Francisco Sanchez Ruiz is out of the 2023 World Pool Masters in Brentwood, Essex losing out to James Aranas in the opening round live on Sky Sports in the UK and broadcasters worldwide.
Sanchez Ruiz was looking to go better than a run to the quarter-finals, his previous best but faced stern opposition from Aranas who was coming into the tournament as a wild card. Aranas stole the early racks at 2-0 and soon that lead was 5-2 when a fluke from Sanchez Ruiz allowed the Spaniard in for the first real bit of table time. There were fond memories for Sanchez Ruiz coming into this week having lifted the World Cup of Pool title with close friend David Alcaide in the same venue little under 12 months ago and it seemed he was finding his best stuff with a three-pack to hit the front at 6-5 but that didn’t seem to faze Aranas.
Aranas had a fluke of his own on the eight in the 12th rack to enable him to pull level and soon make his own ascendancy towards the magical nine racks needed to progress to the quarter-finals. The Dodong Diamond continued on his way towards a big result on his CV as Sanchez Ruiz faltered. Aranas stepped up to limit chances for his opponent and pull off a memorable win with two break and runs at 7-7 to seal victory. He said: “I felt so nervous but I knew I had to fight. I was shaking early on. I calmed myself down and I knew with a good layout I was capable of getting out.”
Wiktor Zielinski will await Aranas in the next round after the rising star came out on top against China’s debutant Zheng Xiao Huai. It was the case of who would settle the quickest and from there who could find their break but in truth neither managed to do that with the 4-inch pockets punishing both players with Zheng making no fewer than six fouls during the whole contest.
The break went both ways with the pair struggling to make the wing ball or any ball off it leading to plenty of safety opportunities and it was a loose one from Zielinski that brought Zheng to the table when trailing 6-4. With the run-out followed by a golden break in the 12th, they were all square. Unfortunately for Zheng though, that would be the last real sniff the youngster had in the match as Zielinski showed his experience in the Matchroom arena to close things out for victory and meet Aranas tomorrow afternoon.
Zielinski said: “I was happy that I was able to pull it off. It was a tough match. I missed two big chances to go 6-3 and 7-4 up. It’s tough to make balls on this table which is good. My safety was good but maybe my break was not very good. I think my first three breaks were good but then I started to overcut it and somehow I got lucky. I am happy to get the win. I hope I can finally do well in a Matchroom arena, it’s the thing that is missing for me.”
The final match of the afternoon promised to deliver as two Mosconi Cup teammates of past for Europe in Eklent Kaci and Albin Ouschan met for their chance of a quarter-final berth. Ouschan has done it all in Matchroom events but it’s the one that’s evaded him so far with a run to the semi-finals in 2017 his best result and it looked to be another long afternoon for the Austrian as Kaci set the early pace.
The Albanian flew into an early advantage that looked to be untouchable at 6-2 up but Ouschan had been in such slump previously running five racks on Kaci to hit the front for the first time at 7-6 and look to be the man more likely to reach the quarter-finals. That was shortlived for Ouschan though who broke dry at the worst time possible to leave Kaçi his moment to reach the hill and soon secure victory after a brief safety battle off the break in the final rack.
The final Round 1 matches get underway from 6:30 pm UK time as 2021 champion Alexander Kazakis takes on Mario He ahead of Shane Van Boening taking on David Alcaide.
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.