By Keith Paradise – World champion and Billiards Congress of America Hall of Famer Ralf Souquet will face reigning WPA World 9-Ball champion Joshua Filler at Astoria’s Steinway Billiards. Souquet, who lost his first match of the tournament to Mike Dechaine then battled his way through the one-loss side of the bracket, squeaked by James Aranas in the semifinals, 13-11. The brash, young Filler jumped out to a commanding lead against England’s Chris Melling then held on for a 13-8 victory in the second semifinal of the day.
The championship match with begin at 7 PM. Eastern time. Fans wanting to watch the match can purchase the Pay-Per-View stream on the World Pool Series website.
After Souquet and the young Filipino split the first four games of the match, the German used two dry breaks from his opponent and a break-and-run of his own to help win the next five games and build a 7-2 lead. Souquet then used missed shots by Aranas in the 11th and 14th games to claim five out of seven more racks to build an impressive 10-4 advantage. Aranas cut the lead to 10-5 after his opponent scratched, then narrowed the deficit further in the 16th rack when Souquet misplayed position to the 9 ball from the 8 ball, leaving a difficult cut shot which he missed.
“I told myself, ‘don’t get short and that’s exactly what happened. That’s the worst thing you can actually do,” Souquet said. “I just shot it wrong. I had a plan in mind and stayed to the plan. I just wanted to hold the cue ball and that’s why I missed it.”
From this point on, momentum swung to Aranas, who mixed in some victorious safety exchanges, breaks and runs and a couple of errors by Souquet to win six consecutive racks and tie the score at 10 games each. Standing at the table in the 21st game, Aranas had a chance to take the lead after Souquet missed the 9 ball. However, the Filipino also failed to pocket the shot and Souquet cleared the table to regain the lead, 11-10. The German then capitalized on a missed bank shot by the Filipino on the 2 ball, clearing the table and then breaking and running out in the 23rd game to close out a match that clocked in at over three-hours.
“In the second half of the match I had some trouble getting over the finish line,” Souquet said. “Luckily he made another mistake and gave me a chance to win the last three games.”
Souquet will now face fellow countryman and former doubles partner Filler, who put on an impressive performance against Melling in the second semifinal of the afternoon. Using a couple of run-outs paired with two scratches by the Englishman, the former Mosconi Cup Most Valuable Player jumped out to a fast 6-0 lead in a race-to-13.
“This match was really good, in my opinion. I got out to a 6-0 lead and started to play pretty perfectly,” Filler said.
Melling tacked on a couple racks to narrow the gap to 6-2 but Filler charged back, winning six of the next seven games to take command, 12-3. With the finish line in sight, the young German became a bit complacent, committing a foul, misplaying a safety and missing a shot in subsequent games. Melling took full advantage, storming back to cut the lead to 12-8.
“I started making more mistakes and he started to run out,” Filler said. “I think in my head I was already in the finals and I think that’s why I started to make some mistakes.”
Melling had an opportunity to cut into the lead more but failed to pocket a ball on the break in the 21st game. After a brief safety exchange, Filler was able to clear the table and close out the set to advance to this evening’s finals.
“In the end I got it done and I’m just happy that I’m in the finals now,” Filler said.