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Immonen Takes World Crown

After 511 matches over nine days Mika Immonen, the London-born Finn, is the new Champion of the World, as he overcame Ralf 'the Kaiser'Souquet of Germany by 17 – 10 in front of a packed house at the Cardiff International Arena to claim the title of 2001 Admiral World Pool Champion.
128 players came to Cardiff seeking glory and the game's top prize of $65,000 but in the end it was just one man who stood alone, atop of the pile.
28 year-old Immonen, who now lives in New York, played the kind of dominant pool that saw him come through knock-out matches against the likes of Corey Deuel, Tony Drago, Anthony Ginn, Niels Feijen and Alain Martel.
Ralf took the better of the early exchanges as he moved into an early 4 – 2 lead but a careless mistake saw Mika move into gear and take the next three to go 5 – 4. Ralf took the next but Immonen then edged ahead and things looked ominous with the score at 11 – 7.
Souquet, though is renowned throughout the pool world for his resilience and he dug deep and won the next three to put the match in the balance at 11 – 10 to Immonen.
That was the Kaiser's last stand, though. He made another rare mistake and let Immonen back to the table and at 16 – 10 up the Iceman found himself breaking in what would be the ultimate rack of the championship match.
Immonen dropped the 3-ball off the break but with the 1-ball unavailable to pocket, Mika laid it off to the rail leaving Ralf a tricky kick shot. It was almost a great recovery by the Kaiser but the cue ball over ran by an inch, and that was all the Immonen needed.
When the 9-ball dropped the CIA crowd erupted as the emotion of the occasion got to Immonen and tears of joy began to flow.
An emotional Mika said immediately afterwards." My motto is never say never. Five years ago I thought that I would win the world championship before I was 30 so at 28 I have accomplished my dream.
" When I came to the final rack I was so nervous I thought I was going to puke but I gathered myself and thought what's three balls after the thousands I've potted all week?
Souquet, who won this trophy in 1996 was understandably gutted to fall at the final hurdle; "I just couldn't get going. Even when I was two racks up early on I never thought I could win it. Mika played well and he's a true champion but I made two terrible mistakes which ultimately cost me seven or eight racks.
" The worst part was the waiting today. I just didn't know what to do. I went for a walk for a couple of hours but basically I spent my time sitting in a room doing nothing. I practised for about 25 minutes prior to the match and I felt very comfortable and wasn't even nervous but that was blown away.
" Mika broke well and had the roll and I think that he is worthy world champion and good for the game."
After winning European championships and Euro-Tour events Immonen moved to New York City a year ago and has had plenty of success State-side winning the ESPN 7-Ball Shoot Out and the Turning Stone Casino Classic but this is by far and away the biggest win of his career.
Immonen displays over the nine days of the 2001 World Pool Championship showed an ice-cool nerve under pressure. Commented Immonen, " During the match I was telling myself not to think about what is happening here, that it's just a game of pool, not the World Championship. I focused on my techniques and tried to visualise patterns to take the pressure off.
"I was really confident about my game throughout the week. I'd been away on holiday to Cancun for a week prior to the championship and practiced solidly for ten days leading up to this week. Once I discovered how to break the balls I knew I could out run any of these guys.
" This is definitely going to get a lot of attention in Finland. It's a relatively new game there and I am the first generation of pool players back home and I think my success here will make the game bigger and bigger.
" I hope that finish TV will be picking up on this as well as Mosconi Cup because this game can only get bigger and bigger.
Immonen plans to invest most of his winnings and taking his girlfriend Helen on a getaway holiday.
The 2001 Admiral World Pool Championship takes place from 14 – 22 July features 128 players from 44 countries shooting it out for US$300,000 prize-money. The event is live on Sky Sports as well as over 60 countries around the world
Tables for the World Championship are provided by Brunswick, cloth by Simonis, balls by Saluc and racks by Lou Sardo Products. The event's official bookmaker is Stan James.