Immonen earns rematch with Alcano

Mika Immonen (Photo courtesy of Diana Hoppe)

The US Open semi-final match between Warren Kiamco and Mika Immonen was all any pool fan could ever want. The first 8 racks went back and forth with each player winning more from the non-breaking position as the breaks were coming apart ugly and leaving no shot on the lowest ball. When the match reached 4-4, Mika Immonen changed the scenario up a bit and won two racks consecutively to lead 6-4. Kiamco played an unescapable safety in rack number eleven that gave him ball-in-hand and an easy trip to 6-5. But in the next rack he erred on another safety attempt when he failed to contact a rail after hitting the two ball and Mika ran out to go back up by two racks at 7-5. When Immonen broke and ran the next rack he grabbed an 8-5 lead and Kiamco was running out of time and space to maneuver.

By now Mika had found the 'sweet spot' on the break shot and the balls were setting up well for him. He made the next break and run appear very easy and he began to walk with energy around the table. Even when Immonen failed to pocket a ball on his next break the table treated him kindly and forced Kiamco into a push-out. After a brief safety exchange Kiamco cashed an opportunity on the one but got no shape on the two. Another safety war began that Kiamco ended by banking the two into the corner. Both players then failed at difficult shots and Kiamco wound up the fortunate one with the first decent shot, a gift horse he rode home to bring the scoreline to 9-6.

The next rack was a gift to Kiamco from Immonen. Mika made a jump shot on the one ball that left the ball by the side pocket and a roadmap runout behind it. Warren lived up to his billing to climb within two games of Immonen at 9-7. Kiamco then broke and ran the next rack while Immonen sat and regretted the jump shot that had now cost him so much vital ground. Kiamco broke dry but another clumsy effort on the one ball by Immonen brought Kiamco back to the table. When Kiamco won this rack he had regained all of the territory that had lain between the two men and we were tied at nine games each. Our race to 11 had become a brutal race to two games to determine who would get the title shot.

Kiamco appeared to have an easy run after his next break. But he got straight in on the two ball and when he used draw on the cue ball to get shape on the three, he would up jawing the easy shot on the two. He jabbed his cue into the air and stomped his feet on his way back to his chair. Immonen leapt from his seat and accepted the easy rack to get to the hill first. Mika made a great break shot next and the layout was great for him with no clusters, no blocked balls and nothing on the rails. He ran the rack with ease and earned his return bout with Alcano in the finals.