Edmond Zaja (ALB), local hero from Albania, managed to triumph over the winner of the last Euro-Tour event, the Dynamic Billard North Cyprus Open, Mario He (AUT) with the closest of all results, 9:8.
Winner’s round two brought the biggest upset to the Dynamic Billard Albanian Open so far. Mario He, overall ranked #6 in the Euro-Tour rankings and just coming back from the World 9-Ball Championships in Doha, Qatar, encountered a supposedly „easy“ opponent in his second match. But Edmond Zaja was not going to fulfill this expectation. Even when he trailed to He 0:3 after three racks, the Albanian stood tall and tried to close the gap between the two. To the surprise of the audience, Zaja took the next five racks in a row, turning the scoreboard to 5:3 in his favor. Maybe that was a wakeup-call for He. The Austrian now took two racks and tied the match at 5:5. From then on, they took racks in turn with no-one gaining any advantage over the other player. Of course, the match went to 8:8 and rack number 17 had to decide the winner. It was Zaja’s break. He had the 8-ball down and a shot at the 1-ball, but he was not able to pocket the 1-ball. He played a safety shot and hid the cue ball behind the 6-ball.
He attempted a very risky jump-shot, hit the 1-ball and almost made it in the corner pocket. But he left it hanging there for Zaja. The Albanian got back to the slate with eight open balls in front of him. He ran them until he came to the 6-ball. The position for the 6-ball was a bit thin and the 9-ball was lying close to it. Zaja pocketed the 6-ball but got no position for the 7-ball. However, the cue ball struck the 9-ball while he pocketed the 6-ball and the 9-ball fell in the corner pocket over two rails. What an unfortunate ending for He on the winner’s side. Zaja will now encounter Mateusz Sniegocki (POL) tomorrow in the winner’s qualification round at 14:00 CET. Sniegocki defeated Damianos Giallourakis (GRE) 9:2 and Mark Magi (EST) 9:3 today to book his seat in the match. He needs three more victories to qualify for the single elimination stage of the final 32 players.
Other remarkable results from today include Ruslan Chinakhov (RUS) winning 9:7 over Alexander Kazakis (GRE). Mark Gray (GBR) won his match in winner’s round two over Eklent Kaci (ALB) 9:5. Mika Immonen (FIN) barely squeaked through with a 9:8 over Joao Grilo (POR). Nick van den Berg (NED) whitewashed Aykin Burcu (TNC) 9:0.
Tomorrow, the Dynamic Billard Albanian Open will continue at 09:00 local time with matches from loser’s round 2. Additionally, the Women Albanian Open will commence at the same time.
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