Defending Champion Zielinski Still Alive at Alfa Las Vegas Open

Wiktor ZIelinski

One year ago, Wiktor Zielinski became the first player from Poland to break through at a large-scale event, defeating Aloysius Yapp to win the Alfa Las Vegas Open.

Heading into the final day of this year’s Open, Zielinski’s hopes to repeat as champion remain firmly in tact, as the Pole defeated 2020 champion Jung-Lin Chang in straight sets Saturday night at the Rio All-Suites Hotel and Casino. The Pole will now face Vietnam’s Duong Quoc Hoang, who came from behind to beat Shane Van Boening.

After Zielinski won the first set, 4-2, the two competitors split the first two games of the second frame until the Pole clawed ahead with a victorious safety exchange. He failed to pocket a ball on the break in the following game but forced Chang into fouling, allowing him to tack on another win and climb onto the hill. Chang, who reached the quarterfinals by defeating Albin Ouschan and Joshua Filler, cut the deficit to 3-2 when he forced Zielinski into a foul with a safety but lost the next game and the match when his opponent used the same strategy, finding an opening to run out after multiple safeties on the 2 ball.

On an adjacent table, Hoang was taking advantage of a handful of unforced errors by Van Boening to grind his way into the semifinals.

The American won the first two racks of the opening set then took advantage of a missed cut shot on the 2 ball by his opponent to build an early 3-0 advantage. Van Boening, who reached the quarterfinals with victories over Eklent Kaci and Konrad Juszczyszyn, closed out the set in the next game when he forced Hoang into a foul with a safety.

He drew first blood in the second set when his opponent missed the 1 ball but again failed to make a ball on the break, allowing Hoang to drill home a combination shot on the 10 ball. Hoang climbed ahead after Van Boening missed a soft 7 ball in the side pocket, then increased his lead when he pocketed another combination after forcing the American into committing another foul. Van Boening had a chance to pull to within a game of the lead but missed the 6 ball, allowing his opponent to sail to a 4-1 second set win.

In the deciding set, Van Boening took advantage of a Hoang miss in the opening game to take an early lead but both players continued to be plagued by breaking struggles, failing to land a ball on the opening shot. Hoang tied the score after trading safeties, gave away a chance at the lead when he scratched but recovered in the next game when Van Boening scratched on the break. With the score now knotted at two, Hoang closed out the set by taking advantage of a missed 3 ball by Van Boening in the fifth game then breaking and running.

Zielinski will have familiar company in the semifinals, with fellow countryman Daniel Maciol defeating Bader Alawadhi 4-3, 4-1 in the quarterfinals, meaning half of the event’s remaining four competitors are from Poland. Maciol will face Sanjin Pehlivanovic, who defeated Vitaliy Patsura in straight sets as well.

Semifinals are scheduled to begin at 12 p.m. local time and the finals are slated to start at 4 p.m.

Watch Live on World Billiard TV YouTube channel, Billiard TV and at tv.kozoom.com

Brackets and scores can be found at https://probilliardseries.com/2023-men/2023-alfa-las-vegas-open/

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