Defending champion Alex Pagulayan of the Philippines lost his title in the opening match of the 2009 PartyPoker.net World Pool Masters as he fell victim to the superior all-round play of reigning European Champion Nick Van Den Berg.
It was a great performance from the Dutchman as his safety game was tight throughout and he made the most of his opportunities.
Van den Berg went into an early 2-0 lead as he completed a pair of comfortable run outs. He looked set in the third but missed a straightforward 2 ball and Pagulayan took the rack via a 3/9 combination.
The Filipino was forced to play safe on the 3 ball but Van den Berg extricated himself from it and went on to take the rack and a healthy 3-1 lead. They both had chances in the next but the Dutchman took it after they both missed on the 5 ball.
It was becoming one-way traffic as an in-stroke Van den Berg came through the next two to move the score to 6-1.
Pagulayan gained an opportunity in the next when his snooker forced his opponent to leave the 1 ball out in the open. From there he ran out to reduce the deficit to 2-6.
Unfortunately, any momentum Pagulayan may have had was derailed as he failed to get three balls past the headstring and lost the table. It was a tricky layout and both players had visits but the Dutchman took it to reach the hill.
Van den Berg completed an outstanding show as he took the last for an 8-2 win and a spot in the quarter-finals.
“I played good and have felt good in the last few weeks. I kept up my performance from the European Championships and was delighted with the win.
“I figured out the break very quickly and that’s one of the strongest parts of my game. I don’t care who I play in the next round as they’re both world class players but everyone can win in a race to eight.
A highly-determined Johnny Archer moved into the last eight with an assured performance as he brushed aside the challenge of England’s Imran Majid to win 8-2, much to the delight of the capacity crowd at the Riviera.
From a 2-all scoreline, the Englishman didn’t get much of a look in as Archer dominated with his powerful break and clinical finishing.
There was some potential needle in the encounter as the players had clashed controversially over accusations of Imran sharking Archer at the 2006 Mosconi Cup, but the American diffused the situation with his dominating play.
“That was a good performance and I was very happy with the way I played. I made some good shots and a couple of racks were pretty easy but there was consistency which has been lacking so maybe I’m on my way back,” said Archer.
“Any time Mosconi Cup members play each other there will be a little bit of extra spark. I don’t have anything against Imran Majid but to beat anyone from the Mosconi Cup gives you an extra boost.
“I broke the balls well, made my key shots and played pretty smart. That’s the way I like to play and it makes me happy to do so. It would mean everything to me to win it. You want to win any tough competition, any Matchroom event, any international event. I’ve never won the World Pool Masters and that would be something to put in my trophy cabinet.
“It will probably be Mosconi Cup players all the way but the thing about pool is when you’re at the table it doesn’t matter who you’re playing against. If you play well, control the table and put pressure on the next guy then everybody folds,” he added.
“He played really well, he deserved it,” said Majid as he left the arena.
An illegal break from Van Boening in the first allowed Yu Ram to the table and she completed the run out to settle her nerves.
She scratched in the next though and that allowed Van Boening to level and another scratch from the Korean girl enabled Van Boening to take the lead.
The American fluked a lucky 9 ball to increase his lead but he missed a straight-forward shot on the 2-ball as Yu Ram pulled it back to 3-2 to leave Van Boening looking slightly nervous.
It’s an unconvincing performance from Van Boening but still an effective one as he takes the next three following some scrappy play from both players.
There was drama in the ninth rack as Van Boening missed the black eight and was left shaking his head at the miss. However, Yu Ram left the 9-ball hanging over the corner pocket and that allowed Van Boening to move to the hill at 7-2.
That miss on the 9-ball proved to be Yu Ram’s last shot in the 2009 PartyPoker.net World Pool Masters as Van Boening, although nowhere near his best, did enough to win 8-2 and comfortably moved into the last eight.
“I wasn’t really nervous playing a woman as you have to just treat everyone as your opponent and just play your own game. I played alright but the table was a little confusing as it slides a lot and you can’t control the cue ball but once I work it out I will be ok.
“It would mean a lot to me and would be another title in my career and I just love to play. I’ve been playing a lot of money games with Alex Pagulayan trying to get warmed up so I just have to try my best.”