Alex Kazakis’s hopes of winning a second straight Wisconsin Open ended Friday night as the former World Pool Masters champion was defeated in three sets by Germany’s Joshua Filler in the quarterfinals at Ho Chunk Gaming in the Wisconsin Dells.
The defeat ended a rollercoaster day of play in which the young Greek displayed stellar command at times while getting a fortunate roll during others, winning three straight matches before falling to the former World 9-Ball champion.
Kazakis, who suffered a shootout defeat in the second round to Vietnam’s Nguyen Tuan Anh, began the day with a morning match against Joven Bustamante, losing the first set 4-3 before rallying to clinch the second frame,4-2, and forcing a shootout. The two competitors were perfect in the early stages of the extra frame, each depositing their first three consecutive spot shots into the corner pocket. In the fourth inning, Kazakis rifled another shot into the pocket then watched as his opponent did the same only to scratch in the opposite corner pocket to hand the Greek the win.
Now facing Canadian John Morra in the next round, Kazakis had an easier time as he capitalized on a handful of unforced errors by his opponent to coast to a 4-0, 4-1 victory. Facing Robbie Capito in the round-of-16, the Greek had a bit more of a fight on his hands but still managed to win in straight sets, 4-2, 4-3, to advance to the quarterfinals and meet an undefeated Filler.
“I’ve had some ups and downs in the event,” said Kazakis. “Thankfully, today I qualified for the last 16. I’m feeling good and feeling lucky and we’ll see what’s going to happen. There are many good players in this tournament. I don’t want to think about being a defending champion because it gives me a lot of pressure. I’m just taking it one match per time.””
The former United States Open 9-Ball champion took control of the opening set from the beginning, breaking and running, taking advantage of a missed shot by his opponent in the next game then executing a successful combination shot in the following rack to take 3-0 lead.
When Filler missed the 3 ball in the corner pocket in the fourth rack, the Greek seemed like he was on his way to climbing onto the scoreboard until he overran position on the 9 ball, then lost a safety exchange, as the German banked in the ball on his way to a 4-0 shutout.
Kazakis opened the second set with a break-and-run but allowed his opponent to tie the score when he failed to pocket a ball in the second game. The Greek regained the lead on a victorious safety in the third game but again allowed Filler back to the table when he couldn’t land a ball on the break. Kazakis used a jump in of the 3 ball after a safety to take 3-2 lead landed a combination shot on the 10 ball to clinch the second set, 4-2.
Filler opened the deciding set with a break-and-run and looked like he was about to increase his lead in the next rack but missed the 2 ball, allowing the Greek to again tie the match. The two players continued to be plagued by breaking issues, with Kazakis failing to land a ball on the break in the third rack and allowing Filler to regain the lead then watching filler break dry in the following game. The Greek had a chance to tie the match but scratched after pocketing the 2 ball in the side pocket. Filler cleared the table to take a commanding 3-1 lead then ended any hope for a Kazakis comeback when he broke and ran to close out the set, 4-1.
“I came out of the gate pretty good,” said Filler. “I was unlucky a couple of times in the second set but he made some great shots. In the end, it was a classic match.”
Filler will open the final day of play on the men’s side at 10:30 a.m. local time when he faces Ukraine’s Vitaly Patsura, who survived a three-set nail biter against American Sam Henderson, 4-2, 3-4, 4-2.
Another top player who is heading home after a Friday defeat is Russia’s Fedor Gorst, who was shut down by local favorite Tyler Styer in straight sets in the round-of-16.
After the Russian won the opening set, Styer took control, taking advantage of a misplayed safety by his opponent and using back-to-back breaks and runs to win four straight games and claim the opening set.
“Your expectation is to just see Fedor do what he does,” said Styer after the match. “He’s done it so many times so you just have to try and keep him in his chair.”
After splitting the first four games of the second set, Styer took advantage of a misplaced safety on the 3 ball by his opponent to clear the table and climb to within a rack of closing out the set. Both players failed to pocket balls on the break down the stretch, with Gorst snagging the sixth game to tie the set and the American closing out the match with a run out of his own after the Russian couldn’t land a ball in the deciding rack and left an open table.
Later in the evening, Styer advanced to the semifinals with a three-set victory over Kuwait’s Bader Alawadhi. He will face undefeated Gerson Martinez Bosa of Peru in the second semifinal match on Saturday, which is scheduled to begin at 1:30 p.m. local time.
One the women’s side, Billiard Congress of America Hall of Famer Kelly Fisher was sent to the one-loss side of the event when she was defeated by Chinese Taipei’s Wan-Ling Wang in straight sets, 4-2, 4-3.
Saturday promises to be one of the most action-packed days at the Open, as the men’s division crowns a new champion and the women’s bracket whittles 24 players down to four in preparation for Sunday’s semifinals and finals.
Matches can be watched on Billiard.TV and on World Billiard TV, the official YouTube channel of CueSports International. A schedule of televised matches will be posted daily on the Pro Billiard Series and CSI Facebook and Instagram pages.
The Apex Wisconsin Open is the second tournament of the season for this year’s Predator Pro Billiards Series schedule. The Pro Billiard Series is a series of open, professional events held around the world to provide more opportunities for professional and aspiring pool players to compete in high-quality events, earn more income, sharpen their skills, and earn their way into the Predator World 10-Ball Championship held in Las Vegas each year as part of the CueSports International Expo.
The Predator U.S. Pro Billiard Series by CSI feature six open professional events during the calendar year. Created by league operator CueSports International together with the Predator Group, these tournaments will run in tandem alongside of CSI league events being held throughout the country. The winner of each competition receives a guaranteed spot in the following year Predator World 10-Ball Championship, which will be held during the annual CueSports International Expo in Las Vegas at the Rio Hotel and Casino.
These events are played on Predator Apex Pro tables covered with Predator Arcadia Performance Cloth, with Predator Arcos II balls, and under the Predator Arena billiard lights.
CueSports International (CSI) is an international pool league and event leader and is currently comprised of three divisions: CSI Leagues, CSI Events and CSI Media. CSI Leagues manages the BCA Pool League and USA Pool League, CSI Events produces numerous amateur and professional events around the globe and CSI Media creates live streaming and digital content. Through its vision and strategic alliances, CSI is “shaping the future of pool.” For more information about CSI or any of its divisions, visit www.playcsipool.com.
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