When spectators attend a concert, they’re usually treated to an opening act or two, hired to get the crowd engaged and set the tone for the night and the event’s main attraction.
Wednesday morning’s starting match at the Apex Wisconsin Open was the equivalent of skipping the warm-up acts completely and heading straight into the hottest new bands, with former World 9-Ball champion Fedor Gorst facing reigning World 10-Ball champion Eklent Kaci in a first-round clash. The two opened play with a nip-and-tuck battle, with Gorst taking advantage of a crucial mistake by his opponent to come from behind and steal a straight-sets victory, 4-2, 4-3, at the Ho-Chunk Resort and Casino in the Wisconsin Dells.
After Kaci won the opening rack, Gorst snagged the next two games after his opponent failed to pocket a ball on the break in the second game but quickly relinquished the table when he didn’t land a ball on the opening shot in the fourth rack. The Albanian tied the score at two games each then opened play in the fifth game by playing a safety on the 1 ball when an open shot wasn’t available. Gorst promptly rattled the ball into the corner pocket with a jump shot and ran out to reclaim the lead. Kaci had another opportunity to tie the set when Gorst again failed to pocket a ball on the break but missed a combination shot on the 2 ball, which the Russian pocketed along with the remaining balls to secure the set, 4-2.
Kaci used a break-and-run in the second set to jump out to an early lead but broke dry in the next rack, allowing his opponent to clear the table and then weave around a clustered 4, 5 and 10 balls in the next game to climb ahead, 2-1. After Gorst failed to land a ball on the break, Kaci again tied the set then gained the lead when his opponent fouled in the fifth game. Standing at the table with a 3-2 lead and a chance to force a shootout, Kaci missed a makeable 6 ball which allowed Gorst to tie the match. After breaking in the set-deciding seventh rack, the Russian executed a sharp cut on the 1 ball, slid in a 5 ball that was closely guarded by the 8 ball and banked in the 9 ball into the side pocket to clear the table and escape with a 4-3 victory.
Watch the entire Gorst-Kaci match on our partner YouTube channel World Billiard TV
Hours later, Gorst would pitch a 4-0 shutout in the first round of his match against Dimitris Loukatos, but lost the second set 4-3 and lost in a shootout to the Greek, 4-3. The Russian moves to the one-loss side of the bracket where he will play Friday morning.
England’s Darren Appleton appears to close to regaining the stroke that landed the former U.S. Open 9-Ball champion in the Billiards Congress of America Hall of Fame. Facing Mickey Krause of Denmark, Appleton played nearly flawless in a straight set second round victory.
After Krause used a break-and-run and a scratch on the break by his opponent to build an early 2-1 lead, Appleton took advantage of a foul by his opponent in the fourth rack to tie set then tacked on back-to-back breaks and runs to close out a 4-2 victory. The Brit, reached the second round with a straight sets victory over Poland’s Konrad Juszczyszyn, was equally crafty in the second set, using two victorious safety exchanges and a break-and-run to build a commanding 3-0 advantage. Krause had a chance to climb onto the scoreboard after his opponent scratched on the break in the fourth game but failed to secure position on the 6 ball and missed a bank shot. Appleton executed a sharp cut on the object ball then finished off the rack to pitch a 4-0 shutout and advance to the third round of the winner’s side of the bracket.
Appleton will face fellow Hall of Famer Mika Immonen in the third round Friday at 11 a.m. eastern time.
In other matches of the day, Roland Garcia took advantage of a handful of errors by three-time Mosconi Cup member Tyler Styer to earn a 4-0, 4-2 victory and Billiard Congress of America Hall of Famer Immonen needed an extra frame to survive a 7-6 shootout against Michael Schneider of Switzerland.
Competition resumes Thursday morning with notable matches including Denis Grabe of Estonia taking on Jasmin Ouschan at 11 a.m. eastern time, Garcia taking on Robbie Capito at 3 p.m. and Mieszko Fortunski of Poland meeting Hunter Lombardo on the one-loss side of the bracket at 6 p.m.
The Apex Wisconsin Open is the second event of the year for the Predator U.S. Pro Billiard Series and the first ever to be staged at Ho-Chunk Resort, a sprawling facility north of Madison which offers a 302-room hotel as well as spacious gaming and convention space.
Follow the Apex Wisconsin Open draw on the Predator US Pro Billiard Series FargoRate’s dedicated page
The Apex Wisconsin Open is streamed for free all week on Billiard TV and the World Billiard TV YouTube channel. Go to Billiard TV to watch 24/7 Billiard Videos on any device Follow @probilliardseries on Facebook, @probilliardseries on Instagram or @PBilliardSeries on Twitter to follow the event.