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Eddy Merckx with victory into golden era

Posted by on December 9, 2017

Eddy Merckx with victory into golden era

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Eddy Merckx, the glorious winner of the World Cup in El Gouna

EL GOUNA - There could not have been a better moment for Eddy Merckx to triumph in the World Cup in El Gouna. The future of the world's three cushion never looked so promising as now at the end of 2017. The billiard players face a golden era with many great tournaments and an increased prize money. Eddy Merckx, the winner of the last World Cup this year in a final against Roland Forthomme: ,,I am very happy with my victory, with my wonderful year and my high position on the ranking. That's extremely important for all players now with this promising future.''

The Belgian colored final day in the Egyptian resort was closed by a showdown with Eddy Merckx and Roland Forthomme in the final. Before the final fight, Merckx won in a captivating match against Marco Zanetti and Forthomme who overpowerd Frédéric Caudron in a high-class performance. For Merckx it was his second win in a World Cup this year after his first in Ho Chi Minh. ,,I'm a bit unlucky that Haeng-Jik Kim also won two World Cups, otherwise I could have win the World Cup ranking 2017'', said Merckx, who nevertheless enjoyed very well his results in the second half of 2017.

,,Before I took my victory Ho Chi Minh, I was about to drop from the top of the world ranking. But how incredible does it look now: I win in Ho Chi Minh, was in the World championship final in Bolivia and now I won the last World Cup in El Gouna. Therefore, this is of the best years in my career, with the year 2006/2007 in which I became both world champion and European champion.''

The three Belgians on the podium of a World Cup also gave historic value to the tournament. It happened only once before with three Belgians on one, two and three positions (1986). And to complete the Belgian success: Caudron closes the year as the world's number one Merckx both finished second on the world ranking and in the 2017 World Cup standings. The only prize that passed to the Belgians was the overall World Cup victory of Haeng-Jik Kim. The Korean was the best over seven tournaments and will show up for the Supercup gala in Antwerp against the world champion Frédéric Caudron early next year.

The three Belgian on the podium: left to right Roland Forthomme, Eddy Merckx and Frédéric Caudron

The four final players: Roland Forthomme, Eddy Merckx, Marco Zanetti, Frédéric Caudron

Eddy Merckx had a rocket start in the final against Roland Forthomme and led 22-4 thanks to a run of fourteen in the fourth inning. ,,Then I stopped scoring for a while, so Roland could come back.'' And indeed: Forthomme came closer by a run of ten (to 32-22), causing some tension in the game. Merckx: ,,Fortunately for me, I could finish it with a nice final run of eight.''

Eddy Merckx on his way to victory in the final

Roland Forthomme in the final match: good times are back

The World Cup in El Gouna also enters the yearbooks as the come-back of Roland Forthomme, who eliminated Torbjörn Blomdahl, Dick Jaspers and Frédéric Caudron. After some minor years, he showed his great class and fighting spirit again, after a long time of anonymity. Eddy Merckx was the only player with over two average (2.272), the other players on the podium were Forthomme (1.887), Zanetti (1.764) and Caudron (1.666). The highest run was made by Frédéric Caudron, who finished with 18 in his match against Birol Uymaz.

But furthermore, Mr. Farouk Barki, the UMB president's announcement at the ceremony was very important for players and the future of three cushion. He said that the World Cup cycle will be upgraded and expanded with highly-drenched international tournaments and a Masters cycle.

Reports semi-finals:

Eddy Merckx-Marco Zanetti 40-37 in 19

The jump of joy Eddy Merckx made after his last carom, marked the enormous tension at the end. Has it become his new way of cheering, like after the World championship in Bolivia, but reserved for important victories? ,,I was so happy, because Marco came back from so far and I still could finish it off. '' The final sprint of the Italian fighting machine was amazing indeed. Because Eddy Merckx attacked furiously after a poor opening (5-5 in 8): 9 in the 9th inning, 5 in the 11th for 20-7 and even 29-11 in 13 innings.
And then came Marco, the never-give-up man, with his impressive counter. First with 10 in the 14th inning to 29-21 behind, then with another 10 in the 17th to 35-31 behind.

The match was open again. The final part was played under high pressure. Merckx was close to the finish at 39-31, but missed his match ball. Zanetti went to the table for his last chance, scored six times, brought the tension back (37-39), but then saw Merckx make the winning point. ,,I have great respect for the way Marco fought back'', said Merckx later. ,,We all know how dangerous he is under stress, he has shown it again. I'm so lucky that I still could win.''

Roland Forthomme-Frédéric Caudron 40-15 (11)

The clash between the two Belgians in the semi-final turned into a one-man show by Roland Forthomme. The outsider beat the world champion with an unprecedented score: 40-15 in 11. The return of the inimitable Forthomme had already been announced in the previous matches. The demonstration against Caudron was of rare beauty. In his famous style, passionated and focused as always, with his powerful stroke, Forthomme started his expedition after five innings, making Caudron speechless. With five in the fifth and 13 in the eighth inning, Forthomme made a gap of 29-10 just before the break.

The reboot after the break started with a small incident: the Egypitan world class referee Bilo Salama counted down Caudron for his second carom, because he saw two instead of three cushions. A discussion followed, which continued later after the match. The referee eventually agreed to the arguments and allowed Caudron to continue his run. The second part showed the same performance: Forthomme restarted his one-way match, made another run of 7 (36-12) and completed his glossy match at 40-15 in 11 innings.

The final ranking of the World Cup in El Gouna:
1 Eddy Merckx, 2.272 (8000 euro)
2 Roland Forthomme, 1.887 (5000 euro)
3 Marco Zanetti, 1.764 (3000 euro)
4 Frédéric Caudron, 1.666 (3000 euro)
5 Dick Jaspers, 1.866
6 Haeng-Jik Kim, 1.700
7 Murat Naci Coklu, 1.611
8 Tonny Carlsen, 1.552
9 Nikos Polychronopoulos, 2.000
10 Dani Sánchez, 1.645
11 Birol Uymaz, 1.304
12 Jérémy Bury, 1.300
13 Eddy Leppens, 1.293
14 Dong Koong Kang, 1.288
15 Juan David Zapata, 1.142
16 Sameh Sidhom, 1.014
The new world ranking:
1 Frédéric Caudron 432
2 Eddy Merckx 341
3 Dick Jaspers 338
4 Marco Zanetti 317
5 Haeng Jik Kim 310
6 Torbjörn Blomdahl 304
7 Dani Sanchez 287
8 Sameh Sidhom 238
9 Nguyen Quoc Nguyen 219
10 Murat Naci Coklu 217
11 Sung Won Choi 211
12 Jung Han Heo 210
13 Jérémy Bury 195
14 Nikos Polychronopoulos 194
15 Jae Ho Cho 186
16 Tran Quyet Chien 174
17 Ma Minh Cam 165
18 Dong Koong Kang 156
19 Anh Vu Duong 154
20 Tayfun Tasdemir 143
21 Eddy Leppens 142
22 Myung Woo Cho 136
23 David Martinez 134
24 Can Capak 127
25 Lütfi Cenet 127
26 Ma Xuan Cuong 124
27 Roland Forthomme 118
The overall 2017 World Cup ranking:
1 Haeng-Jik Kim 244 (5000 euros)
2 Eddy Merckx 224 (3700 euros)
3 Frédéric Caudron 220 (2500 euros)
4 Torbjörn Blomdahl 218 (2000 euros).




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