Fedor Gorst, Kristina Tkach and Margaret Fefilova all made winning returns to the Predator US Pro Billiard Series at the Seybert’s Michigan Open on Wednesday, with Fefilova defeating Kelly Fisher 4-1, 4-3 in one of the best matches of the day.
Gorst, Tkach and Fefilova are all competing in their first Predator US Pro Billiards Series event since the ban on athletes from Russia and Belarus was lifted in the summer. The Seybert’s Michigan Open has divisions for both men and women and is played alongside the CSI Michigan State Championships at the Kellogg Arena in Battle Creek.
Gorst and Tkach both earned 2-0 wins in their opening matches to advance to Thursday’s play, when Gorst will face Tony Robles and Tkach will be up against Japan’s Kyoko Sone.
“It was a bit overwhelming at first because I haven’t been playing in big tournaments for a long, long time,” admitted Tkach after her 4-0, 4-1 win against Nicole Keeney. “I am very happy and excited to be participating again on the big stage.”
Fefilova also started the day with a 2-0 victory against Lonnie Fox-Raymond. That pitted her against Fisher in the final match of Wednesday’s play on the TV table. Fisher, a three-time Pro Billiard Series champion, had also won 2-0 earlier in the day, with her victory coming against Canada’s Leanne Lini.
Fefilova won the first set 4-1 over Fisher, and in the second had it tied at 2-2 after a kick caused her opponent to scratch on the break. The 25-year-old was finding more success on her break than the Brit, but an over-cut 9 gifted Fisher a 3-2 lead.
Safety was the order of the first half of the following rack but when Fefilova took on and missed a risky 5-ball bank, Fisher was at the table. She looked set to take the match to shootout, only to shock the crowd by missing the 10. The pressure and tension was telling as both players missed efforts at concluding the rack – some tougher than others – before Fefilova finally removed the final ball to tie the set at 3-3.
That meant Fefilova would break to win the match, and she kept Fisher away from the table with a brilliant runout to claim a big scalp and remain on the winners’ side of the women’s event.
“I knew to beat Kelly, a great opponent, I had to deliver my best game,” said Fefilova. “Every time I was at the table I had to deliver, that was my goal and I am happy with the win. I enjoyed being out there. When I go out to play I just feel grateful to be here, so it is a good feeling.”
Earlier in the day, Ukraine’s Vitaly Patsura defeated Tyler Styer 4-3, 4-3. “I didn’t show my best game because I was feeling the pressure playing on the TV table,” said Patsura. “I am happy to play the event which beautiful equipment in a beautiful arena.”
The 25-year-old recently beat Alex Pagulayan to win the Texas Open and a rematch awaited in Battle Creek after the Canadian had won in straight sets against Jeffrey Buna earlier in the day. Patsura took the first set but Pagulayan won the second to take the match to a shootout, which the Ukrainian won to move into Thursday evening’s winners’ qualification round. Pagulayan must now win three matches to reach the last 16.
The day’s final match of the men’s division on the TV table saw Thorsten Hohmann taking on German compatriot Moritz Neuhausen. Hohmann took the first set 4-1 and looked to be cruising to victory, in a stroke and 3-0 up in the second. However, some awkward cueing at 3-1 required the bridge and resulted in a missed 5, which allowed Neuhausen to cut the lead to 3-2. The current World Under-19 Champion then kept Hohmann in his chair to tie the set at 3-3 with an impressive runout under pressure.
The deciding rack came down to the last three balls but a mis-played safety on the 8 by Hohmann left the youngster with a straight shot and an easy out to force the shootout. By then, momentum in the match had made a seismic shift, and it showed; Hohmann missed his first two from the spot while Neuhausen was perfect, even if his third and winning strike wobbled in the jaw before dropping.
Play continues from 10am local time on Thursday, with six more matches to be broadcast live on watchbilliard.tv and the World Billiard TV YouTube channel.
Brackets and scores for the Men’s event can be found at https://probilliardseries.
Brackets and scores for the Women’s event can be found at: https://probilliardseries.
The Seybert’s Michigan Open is streamed for free on Billiard TV, the World Billiard TV YouTube channel and at Kozoom.com
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