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Carom Billiard - 3-Cushion - World Cup - Porto (POR)

Top five under pressure: Choi, Merckx, Caudron out

Posted by on July 10, 2015

Top five under pressure: Choi, Merckx, Caudron out

© Kozoom/Korea
Sung-Won Choi suffering a bad form in his match with Anh Vu Duong

PORTO – His place in the world's top-5 is not under threat, but that's the only good news for Frédéric Caudron in Porto. Two years ago he won the world title in his native country, last year he won the World Cup of Luxor, then a lesser period set in. His early loss to Jung-Han Heo (40-31 in 17) said it all. Dick Jaspers escaped in the first round, only getting past Vietnamese Nguyen Nguyen in a penalty series (40-40, then 2-0). 

Torbjörn Blomdahl was one of the best players on the opening day, with a win in fourteen innings. Dani Sánchez did even better (12 innings) and world champion Sung-Won Choi looked out of sorts and forlorn, he was easy prey to Anh Vu Duong from Vietnam: 40-22 in 39 innings. Belgium had a less than merry day. Four of their players were in the main draw, but one by one they were eliminated. Frédéric Caudron as mentioned to Jung-Han Heo, Eddy Merckx (against Jae Guen Kim) and Roland Forthomme (against Ruben Legazpi). 

Belgian national champion Eddy Leppens had to save the honor and did so, allbeit in a laborious match: 40-28 in 27. Turkey had the same type of day as Belgium: Birol Uymaz survived, Savas Bulut, Adnan Yüksel, Gokhan Salman and Tayfun Tasdemir were all sent home. Tasdemir went out with honor, he equalized with six against Hyung Bum Hwang, bu then lost the shootout 4-2.

Frédéric Caudron was never really in the match against Jung-Han Heo, ran a ten at the end to make things look better, but he never had a chance to win. He was the first player from the world's top-5 to fall victim  (later followed by Sung-Won Choi and Eddy Merckx), and leave a tournament that has already had its share of surprises and could rise to quite a level in the upcoming days. 

Just look at what has happened so far, the match between Quoc Nguyen Nguyen and Birol Uymaz (runs of twenty and sixteen) the highlight. Look at the start Torbjörn Blomdahl had against Jérémy Bury (21-6 in 7, 28-7 in 8), a match that was finally lost with honor by the Frenchman: 40-29 in 14, averages 2.857/2.071.

And what a fight Dick Jaspers had on his hands, when he tried to eliminate yesterday's hero Quoc Nguyen Nguyen, and could only do it from the shoot-out spots. The match got an unexpected climax that followed a tactical battle with plenty of defense and many innings. When Jaspers had finished, the audience was treated to a little extra. The Vietnamese player equalized with five, and penalties had to decide about the win.

Dick Jaspers was first to go: ,,I made my first and second point, and then had an extremely difficult position because one ball was frozen to the rail. I missed it, and of course I feared that two was not enough. It reminded me of last year, when I also had a Vietnamese opponent in the final, and after the 40-4- I ran a nine from the spots.’’

But then nerves got the better of the sanguineous Quoc, who has quickly become a crowd-pleaser. He missed the break due to an uncontrolled stroke. Jaspers: ,,He did not hit it, I could see it from my chair.’’ 

Eddy Merckx did not take his chances, did not play all that fortunate, and had to accept a loss against Jae Guen Kim, the number  56 on the world ranking (40-31 in 20). Sung-Won Choi did worse than Merckx when he played Anh Vu Duong, the Korean struggled all through the match and produced an abysmal 0.5 average. It's almost as if - not unlike in cycling - the world title is cursed this year. 

Rui Manuel Costa stole the hearts of the home crowd in Dragao. The Portugese champion has been involved in the preparations for the tournament for weeks already, as right hand man of big boss Alipio Jorge. Now he was in the arena, to meet former World Cup winner Dong-Koong Kang. ,,I had no illusions about the outcome, I can't normally win a match like that’’, said Rui Costa later.

His proudest moment, a run of ten in the fifteenth inning, changed his perspective. From 32-26 the Portugese player finished the match at 40-35 in 23 innings. Ruben Legazpi made a strong impression when he played  Roland Forthomme, he never lost his grip on the Belgian and beat him 40-28 in 17. 

Carlos Crespo had one last roar at the end of his match against  Jean Paul de Bruijn. De Spanjaard, all the way from the qualifications, looked like he was going to steal the match when he trailed 38-30, but he missed with two points to go and de Bruijn finished. The likeable Crespo ran his fingers through his plentiful hair after the match and reflected: ,,I should have taken a time-out before that all-important ninth point, but unfortunately I didn't.’’

Torbjörn Blomdahl has just one round under his belt, but is already in a good position to retain his number-one ranking after this World Cup. He leads Sung-Won Choi by 61 points and Eddy Merckx by 76, but those players lose more points from the Istanbul World Cup 2014. Dick Jaspers is 79 points back in 4th place, unable to take over the lead. Dani Sánchez was the best winner of the day, with a 3.333 average (40 in 12), ahead of Blomdahl with 2.857, Jung-Han Heo and Ruben Legazpi with 2.352. 

Five Koreans advance to the next round. Of five Turks, only Birol Uymaz is left after his win over Quyet Chien Tran.

Tomorrow's (Saturday) program:

Eighth finals:

10.00: Blomdahl-Costa

Uymaz-Zanetti

Lee-Heo

Piedrabuena-Jaspers.

13.00: Jae Guen Kim-Ruben Legazpi

Sánchez-De Bruijn

Jae Ho Cho-Hyung Bum Hwang

Eddy Leppens-Anh Vu Duong.

Quarterfinals 17.00 and 18.30.

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