Europe’s number 1 player Mark Gray (GBR) aka „The Granite“ lost his match in the winner’s qualification round of the Dynamic Billard Dutch Open in Leende, The Netherlands, with 7:9 to strong Tomasz Kaplan (POL).
Gray’s form in the past season has been second to none. He has reached the quarter-finals four times and won twice. Former World Champions and European top players like Feijen, Ouschan or Souquet are kept at a distance by the successful Brit. However, in this tournament Gray needs to come up with an extra effort in order to continue his triumphal march. In the winner’s qualification round, he faced Poland’s Tomasz Kaplan and the match was as fiercely fought over as expected. In fact, Kaplan had the better beginning. He took the first four consecutive racks and demonstrated quite impressively that he was not going to give this away to Gray for free.
But Gray has a massive self-confidence, mainly because of his amazing performance during the past months. He fought his way back into the match and even got to 7:7. Rack 15 saw „The Granite“ breaking the balls. He had one ball down but only one more ball crossed the head string so the break was illegal and Kaplan got to the table. A long exchange of safety shots followed and had Kaplan as the winner. The Polish got the position to pocket a ball and ran the rack from there to get on the hill. 8:7 was the score in favor of Kaplan, one more point needed to defeat the number 1! It was Kaplan’s break coming up in rack 16. He had some balls down but no position on the 1-ball. Again, safeties were exchanged and again Kaplan won that encounter. With a bit help from the roll of the balls he got the chance to pocket a ball first and he made use of it. He ran the rack, showing no nerves and winning the match 9:7 over Mark Gray. Kaplan is qualified for the round of the last 32 players single elimination which is scheduled for 20:30 CET tonight.
The remarkable results from today’s winner’s qualification round include Woytek Trajdos (POL) defeating Mario He (AUT) 9:7. Russian youngster Fedor Gorst, one of the youngest players left on the winner’s side, pipped Nikos Ekonomopoulos (GRE) to the post with 9:8. Karol Skowerski (POL) conquered Ralf Souquet (GER) 9:6 and sent him to the loser’s round.
Today’s feature match which will be live on Facebook will be the match at around 17:45 CET where German Hall of Famer Ralf Souquet will fight for survival in the tournament against the winner of Portugal’s Jorge Tinoco and EPBF 2015 Player of the Year Francisco Diaz-Pizarro from Spain.
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