David Alcaide has won the 2023 European Open Pool Championship at Hotel Esperanto, Fulda, Germany, beating Anton Raga in the final in a thrilling hill hill finish live on Sky Sports in the UK, Tap GO in the Philippines, Sport 1 in Germany, DAZN in the USA, and networks worldwide from 6 pm local time. (CEST).
David Alcaide 13-12 Anton Raga
In a match-up of experience and youth, it was the latter who took the opener as Raga pounced on a loose position from Alcaide on the seven that left him chasing the nine from trying to make the eight. A dry break from Raga in the second rack allowed Alcaide in for the run out and it was 1-1. Nothing could separate the pair early doors as they went toe to toe for 2-2, 3-3, and 4-4.
There was a familiar tale throughout as Alcaide pulled ahead once again at 5-4 after a dry break from Raga put him to the table. In the tenth, Alcaide had a dry break of his own and soon it was square again at 5-5. Both players were struggling with the break and a scratch from Raga led Alcaide back in to bring up a 6-5 lead through a 4-9 combo. Neither could shake each other's efforts off and a skewiff shape on the nine from Alcaide left the ball hanging and it was 6-6.
Raga made the first break toward the finish line with back-to-back runouts to go 8-6 up. An errant effort on the two from Raga in the 15th rack was all it took Alcaide to cut the deficit to one at 8-7. A confident break and run levelled up at 8-8 and a race to five was on. The 4-9 was on for Alcaide again in the following rack and the Spaniard took charge for 9-8.
Alcaide closed in on the finishing line with another brilliant rack in the 18th to reach double digits first. The experience of Alcaide was starting to shine through with the two-time World Pool Masters champion two away from victory with another break and run for 11-8, it was five racks on the spin. Raga stole the 20th rack and then the following before a tricky break-and-run road map put Raga one behind El Matador 11-10.
Raga seemed to find the break on his comeback trail but it deserted him in the 22nd with a dry break that allowed Alcaide in to tie Raga in a tough snooker from the two ball. Alcaide made an uncharacteristic miss on the three and Raga stepped in to level up at 11 all, the first time they were level since 6-6. A brilliant bank on the six the pick of the bunch to level up. A tight 23rd rack went Raga's way after a brief battle that saw Alcaide go airborne only to leave the three plum for his Filipino counterpart to pounce and reach the hill first.
A loose safety on the two in the 24th rack saw Alcaide level the tie for a thrilling hillhill finish, in one of the matches of the campaign. In the final rack, Alcaide was hooked on the two causing a brief safety battle which Raga got on top of only for his momentum to be swiftly halted by the 6 failing to drop in the middle pocket meaning Alcaide swooped for a first Matchroom major title since the 2019 World Pool Masters.
Alcaide provisionally moves up to number two in the Race to Mosconi Cup standings and inside the World Nineball Tour Rankings top ten overall: "All my finals go hill hill and I was like oh not another time, please. This is special. Last year I played well but I didn't come up well. This is important for me, I've come up good, and the Matchroom tournaments are always special. Today we celebrate but tomorrow we get back to practice."
"I think 8-7 for him, then I go to 10-8 and I think it's my big chance. 11-10 I miss a chance and then finally I have some luck."
On his way to victory, Alcaide overcame WNT No.1 and best friend Francisco Sanchez Ruiz: "It's difficult when he plays or I play. when we played together, we went to the toilet and we told each other to continue, don't worry! When this champion gives his support, it's special and it gives me confidence."
NEXT WORLD NINEBALL TOUR RANKING EVENT
The first-ever Oceania Nineball Tour event in partnership with Pockets Sports will take place in Adelaide, Australia, with a prize fund of $30,000 from August 18-20 – more information including the entry list is available here.
NEXT MATCHROOM EVENT
The signature Matchroom multi-table and oldest major in the sport, the US Open Pool Championship takes place at Harrah's Resort, Atlantic City, USA from September 25-30 where Francisco Sanchez Ruiz will look to defend his title. The SVB Junior Open will return on September 28-28, with entries open to Juniors aged 17 and under from Thursday, 17 August at 3pm UK time. Buy your tickets here from $25.
Matt Lynch Matchroom Multi Sport