One of the toughest and most prestigious WPA ranking events in the world, The China Open, is now leading into its final day of competition. Professional pool players from around the globe have come together at this international summit i...
One of the toughest and most prestigious WPA ranking events in the world, The China Open, is now leading into its final day of competition. Professional pool players from around the globe have come together at this international summit in Shanghai. Check out the breakdown of the results of Saturday’s action below in the story by WPA Press Officer, Ted Lerner.
A KUWAITI IN SHANGHAI!
UPSTART OMAR AL SHAHEEN BARGES INTO THE SEMI FINALS AT THE CHINA OPEN, JOINS CORTEZA, WU AND FU FOR SUNDAY’S FINAL FOUR
By Ted Lerner, ?WPA Press Officer
Photos Courtesy of Jin Li/Top147.com
(Shanghai)–Omar Al Shaheen just booked his place in pool history.
After defeating Taiwan’s Hsu Kai Lun, 11-8, in the quarterfinals of the China Open 9-ball in Shanghai on Saturday night, the 20-year-old Kuwaiti became the first pool player in his country, and indeed in the entire Middle East region, to ever advance to the semi-finals of a major world ranking pool event.
It is an accomplishment that will surely have profound repercussions for not only Al Shaheen’s budding career, but also for the progress of the sport in the Middle East, which is one of the few growth areas worldwide—along with China–for the American game of pool. Whether Al Shaheen can take the prestigious crown and the $40,000 winner’s purse on Sunday is something that is entirely up to the pool gods. But the way things have fallen in place for Al Shaheen this week in Shanghai, anything must surely be in the realm of possibility.
Al Shaheen will have all he can handle and more as he takes on the Philippine veteran Lee Van Corteza in the first semi-final. In the second semi-final, Taiwan veteran Fu Che Wei will go up against his former countryman and surprise entry, the two time former world champion Wu Jiajing (formerly Wu Chia Ching), who now plays out of China.
Al Shaheen has had an amazing run through the field this week in Shanghai and it was capped off with an all-time gritty performance throughout the day today. He first came back from a 10-7 deficit to beat Poland’s Radislaw Babica, 11-10. In his next match, he fended off Great Britain’s Karl Boyes down the stretch, and won another cliff hanger, 11-10.
After taking down Taiwan’s Hsu, Al Shaheen whooped it up with his fellow Kuwait teammate and various friends in the arena.
Omar Al Shaheen
“I’ve very happy,” a beaming Al Shaheen said. “A lot of people back in Kuwait are waiting for something like this. All over the Middle East this is very big. They will be proud of this. I have worked very hard for this.”
The youngster’s rise to the upper echelons of pool is not totally out of the blue. When four Kuwaitis made it to the final 64 of the World 9-ball Championship in Qatar last June, it showed Kuwait is a growing force in professional pool. When Al Shaheen advanced all the way to the final 16 of the event, it showed that he is clearly the face of the new and hungry generation coming out of the Middle East.
Al Shaheen revealed that he goes to university during the day where he studies sports psychology. At night he trains on the pool table for 5-6 hours. He said he uses what he learns in the classroom on the pool table.
“I try to control my thinking out there when I play, and I take my time on each shot.”
If Al Shaheen wants to send the entire population of his small city state country into the streets to celebrate—something he says will happen if he manages to win the China Open—he’ll have to employ more than psychology against Corteza. The Filipino played marvellous pool on Saturday first taking down Austria’s capable Albin Ouschan, 11-8, then smothering Taiwan’s Ko Pin Yi, 11 -6. In the final match of the day, Corteza defeated another strong Taiwanese player, Zheng Yu Xuan, 11 -7.
Corteza is certainly one of the world’s top players, but he said he had to take a rather unconventional approach for a Filipino player in preparing for the China Open. With the tournament and money game scene having all but dri
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