The final four players of the 2022 US Open Pool Championship at Harrah’s Resort in Atlantic City are Carlo Biado, Francisco Sanchez Ruiz, Ko Ping Chung, and Max Lechner.
Road to US Open Pool Championship
In his matchup with Hsieh Chia Chen, the defending champion Biado got out to a fast start and never looked back as he easily won by a huge margin. Biado left it open for the first time at 4-0, and it was obvious that Hsieh was having trouble at the table.
However, Hsieh missed the six, allowing Biado to extend his lead to 5-0. Hsieh had a chance at the table but was hooked when lining up the 2 for a combination on the 9, so Biado’s 2-9 combo sent him on the hill. When Biado believed he had hit a golden break in the last rack but instead scratched, he decided to briefly hold off on his celebrations. Although Hsieh spent some time at the table, Biado easily won the game. Next, Biado will face Sanchez Ruiz.
As Alexander Kazakis sought to join FSR in the automatic berths for the 2022 Mosconi Cup at Bally’s Las Vegas, Sanchez Ruiz and his close buddy Alexander Kazakis squared off. When Kazakis rattled the nine down the line in the third rack with a 2-0 deficit, he was lucky to see it fall and prevent Sanchez Ruiz from taking a 3-0 lead.
The Greek persisted in pushing back, and soon there wasn’t much separating the scores of 3-3 and 5-5. Before Sanchez Ruiz scratched early in the 15th rack, they were locked in a 7-7 tie. Kazakis quickly stood up to take the lead once more. Kazakis believed he had made the five safe in the following rack, but Sanchez Ruiz had other ideas. He kicked at the five safe and made it in the middle pocket before clearing up in the subsequent two racks to claim the 10-8 victory.
Lechner defeated a tenacious Chris Melling to become the first player from Table 1 to secure his spot in the last four. Lechner defeated the Brit convincingly 10-4 to get to his first Matchroom tournament semi-final. Lechner had the early advantage to take the opening rack, but both players were mired in a fierce safety struggle around the table, leveling the score at 1-1. From that point on, Lechner found another gear and sprinted to a 5-1 lead, putting himself five points away from being the first Austrian to ever make it to the US Open semifinals.
He quickly wrote himself into the history books, rallying to a 9-3 lead. Melling did pull one back, but Lechner pushed through to ecstasy.
“First and foremost, it is the biggest relief of my life after messing up in several quarter-finals,” Lechner says. This time, I defeated the devils in my thoughts and triumphed. I performed admirably. I had a couple of rolls. Chris is an excellent player. This break rule appeals to me. Every pool player’s aim is to win this trophy; it would mean everything to me if I could achieve it tomorrow.”
The fourth quarter-final match saw Kaçi face Ko Ping Chung, who was forced to sweat by Finland’s rising sensation Jani Uski, coming off a 10-1 win against Joshua Filler in the last 16.
Ko was looking to replicate Kevin Cheng’s US Open victory for Chinese Taipei, while Kaçi was looking to revenge his defeat to Jayson Shaw in the 2017 final. Ko handled the early exchanges better than Kaçi, who might be excused for his poor start after falling behind 3-1. Kaçi had his moments and trailed 5-3 when he returned to the table to gain some steam and square the game at 5-5. In the following rack, Ko took advantage of Kaci’s mistake on the eight ball to make it 6-5 and shortly 7-5, putting him three points ahead.
At 7-6, Kaçi appeared out of sorts, missing a seven that would have brought him level, and Ko did the rest to reestablish a two-rack buffer. However, Kaçi’s comeback continued, as he leveled the score at 8-8. But Kaçi’s last demise was just around the horizon, as a long raking two rocked the pockets and popped out to give Ko the table and the opportunity to gallop to the finish line 10-8.
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