Down To The Final Four At Petrich Open

Eklent Kaci

After a hectic day’s play at the Petrich Arena in southern Bulgaria, we are down to the final four players. With a slightly altered schedule to take into account the start of the European Open, there were four rounds of play on the losers’ side of the bracket, one winners’ qualification round and then the last 32 played down to just four players who will return on Monday afternoon to contest the business end of the tournament.

And it is some of the big names of European pool who will gunning for the trophy as Francisco Sanchez-Ruiz takes on Alexander Kazakis and then Eklent Kaci goes up against Mario He.

For Francisco Sanchez Ruiz, it will be his sixth Euro Tour semi-final in a little over 13 months and he seems to be in unstoppable form going into the last four. He defeated Kuwait’s Abdullah Alyousef 9-5 to secure his berth in tomorrow evenings line-up.

Commented the Spaniard, “It feels so good and I feel so confident, and also so confident with my break which is working and I’m really happy with my performance. I’ll stay focused just on my game and tomorrow is the semi-final and I prefer to take it game-by-game.

“I had a few moments today; against Spasov of Bulgaria, the score was close and also the quarter-final was close. It was 5-5 and in the end I won it but it’s always tough. I’ll be trying my best but my focus is on the semi-final.”

Alexander Kazakis enjoyed a 9-3 victory over Miesko Fortunski to book his last four match against Sanchez-Ruiz, a game he is relishing.

“I’m really happy with my performance. I played four matches today and in all matches I played almost perfect and also, I had all the rolls on my side so you can’t ask for anything else! Francisco is having a great year and it all started for him when he won his first Euro Tour against me in the final last year.

“He won hill-hill and played really well and deserved it and after that he was just smashing everything. But every day is a different day and I’m going to try to do my thing, he’s going to try and do his thing and whoever has the most rolls and plays the best will win.”

It turned into an endurance test for Albania’s Eklent Kaci, who went to the one-loss side after his opening game of the tournament. That meant a busy schedule and today he came through an incredible six matches, capping it with a 9-5 quarter-final win over David Alcaide.

He said, “I was just trying play each match as it came. Six matches are a lot but I just tried to keep it going; win this one, then on to the next one and just keep moving forward. I got a bit sleepy and was travelling around the table just to stay awake. But to be honest I shot good – I made a couple of mistakes through tiredness I think but the important thing is that I’m in the semi-final and playing tomorrow.”

He will be facing Austria’s Mario He who is hoping for his first Euro Tour title since the heady days of 2018 when he triumphed twice that year. He sneaked over the line in his quarter-final match, beating Oliver Szolnoki 9-8.

Commented He, “I’m happy that I’m in the semis but I didn’t play my best game and didn’t break that well. I have to fight with myself a little bit. I feel like I need more motivation and will-to-win. I’m just a little bit easy and not caring too much and that’s usually not who I am. Tomorrow I’m going to try and get myself motivated. I need to improve my break, keep playing good and win my next Euro Tour, hopefully.”

Play continues 17:00 on Monday 8th on one table with the two semi-finals playing consecutively followed by the final at 20:00.

As well as the prize money, there are Tour ranking points on offer as well as world ranking points, so there is everything to play for. All Euro Tour tournaments are 9-ball and players compete in a double-elimination format, playing down to the last 32 competitors, and then single elimination until the finish. All matches are races to 9 racks with alternate break.

All the matches can be viewed live at www.kozoom.com as well as selected matches on Facebook Live on the EPBF page. In addition, the semi-finals and final, played out on Monday night, will be live or highlights on the following television stations across Europe;

SportKlub HD – Serbia, Slovenia, Croatia, Montenegro, North Macedonia,
Bosnia Herzegovina, Greece
Eyecons – Netherlands)
SportKlub – Poland
ORF – Austria
B1B Box – Bulgaria

Results, live scoring and draw are available at
www.epbf.com/tournaments/eurotour/draw-results/

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