Billiards

Melling king of China Open in Shanghai

Englishman Chris Melling completed his amazing run in the third edition of the China Open 9-ball tournament, routing Chinese Taipeiís rising star Hsu Kai Lun, 11-3, to capture the menís crown Sunday night in Shanghai.

Melling was virtually unchallenged in the finals en route to snatching the top prize of $40,000.

ďThatís the best Iíve ever played,Ē said Melling. ďI knew I would win the match when I was up 6-2. I knew then it would be tough for him to come back. I was just playing too good.Ē

In the womenís contest held late afternoon also on Sunday, Chinaís Fu Xiao Fang dethroned compatriot Chen Siming, 9-3, to claim the crown and the $30,000 that went with it.

The victory underscored the 25-year-old Fuís billing not only as Chinaís No. 1 but also in the world rankings. She also won the World 9-ball championship last September in Shenyang, China.

Fu was the more composed player in the final as the 17-year-old phenom Chen appeared jittery, which was very uncharacteristic of her.

Chen settled for $15,000 and was relegated to No. 2 in the World Pool-Billiard Association world rankings.

Among the 32-year-old Mellingís victims in the tournament were the legendary Efren ďBataĒ Reyes and Lee Van Corteza of the Philippines and former world pool champion Thorsten Hohmann of Germany and Niels Feijen of The Netherlands.

ďI didnít feel nervous at all out there,Ē Melling said.† ďI love playing under pressure. I love the crowd and playing on TV.Ē

Melling, twice world champion in English 8-ball who switched to competitive 9-ball only two years ago, looked every inch unbeatable by the 22-year-old Taiwanese, who eliminated former double world champion Ronnie Alcano in the semifinals Sunday morning, 11-3.

ďIím not saying Iím a great player. But thereís a difference between being a good player and being a great player,Ē he said, adding ďa good player can play well in the pool room and in small tournaments. Great players can win under pressure in an atmosphere like this. Iím just beside myself right now. Absolutely unbelievable.”

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