US Open Day Six

There are four players left in the 35th annual US Open 9-Ball Championships.  At 1 o'clock tomorrow (Saturday), Mika Immonen, two steps away from defending his Open title for the third straight year, will square off in the hot seat match versus Darren Appleton.  At the same time, Warren Kiamco and Corey Deuel will meet in the event quarterfinals.  At 3 p.m., the winner of the quarterfinal match will meet either Immonen or Appleton in the semifinals. The final match-up is scheduled to get underway at 7 p.m.

There will be something of a potential fly in the ointment of Saturday's schedule, though. In addition to whatever speeches event founder Barry Behrman traditionally tosses into the schedule mix on the final day, all four matches will not conclude until the winner is ahead by two racks. In the finals, that will embrace an extended race to 13. 

Immonen's match against Jason Klatt on Friday was notable, not only for Immonen's 11-4 victory, but for a ‘break and run' challenge, which put could add $1,000 to Immonen's pocket on Saturday night. Just prior to the match, announcer Scott “the Shot” Smith reminded players and crowd that there was a $1,000 bonus prize that was up for grabs for the longest string of ‘break and run' games in the event.  At the time, that string was at five, and being shared by Huidji See and Brandon Shuff. It was, apparently, all Immonen needed to hear. He opened his match against Klatt with six straight ‘break and runs.'

Appleton had to win two on Friday to get into the hot seat match. He chalked up two straight 11-8 wins; in the afternoon against Deuel and then, in an evening matchup, against David Alcaide

The notable Friday story on the one-loss side of the bracket was about previous event champions who had opened up lengthy journeys with a series of wins, only to falter as other champions moved over to join them later in the day; Shane Van Boening, Tommy Kennedy, Rodney Morris, and Gabe Owen, being cases in point. 

Van Boening drew a tough opponent in the event's opening round – Mike Dechaine – and was westbound afterwards, with only three racks to his credit in that match. He and Mike Lebron were the only two previous champions who failed to make it out of the opening round.  In Van Boening's first six of 10 that he would play on the one-loss side, he defeated opponents by an average score of 11-2. He completely shutout Chris Bartram and allowed Manny Chau only a single rack. Then, things started to tighten up as the quality of opponents coming over from the winners' side started to improve.

Over the next three matches, he won by an average score of 11-6, giving up five each in wins over Keith Bennett and Owen.  Johnny Archer battled him, but Van Boening persevered to win his ninth in a row on the one-loss side, 11-8. He then ran into the man who was destined, by the end of the day, for the quarterfinals, Corey Deuel. After six relatively easy matches and three battles, Van Boening's bid for a second US Open Championship came to end with an 11-8 win by Deuel.

Owen won five on the winners' side before he ran into The Iceman. His first draw in the west bracket was Van Boening, six games into his nine-game winning streak. Van Boening made it seven in a row with his 11-5 win. 

Kennedy, who'd won four on the winners' side before running into Charlie Williams, defeated Earl Strickland and Mike Davis before Warren Kiamco sent him home 11-8.

Morris, like Kennedy, had won four in a row on the winners' side before being moved west by Ralf Souquet. He then dropped Williams 11-8 during the 3 p.m. matches and Thorsten Hohmann 11-2 in the 7 p.m. matches. 

Klatt, Alcaide, Kiamco and Deuel had their one-loss side tales, as well, but they were brief. After being sent west by Immonen, Klatt was into the late night match against Deuel, and dropped into the tie for fifth, on the heels of Deuel's commanding 11-1. Alcaide's westbound trip after falling to Appleton came to end with the 11-5 victory by quarterfinalist Kiamco.

Matches get underway at 1pm EST on Saturday and we will have complete coverage with real time scoring and bracket updates until a winner is crowned Saturday night.