Ahmad Taufiq Murni in action for Brunei yesterday in South Korea. Picture: BT/ Jason Thomas
Ahmad Taufiq Murni held his nerve to beat Singapores Aloysius Yapp 9-6 yesterday to book a berth in the last-16 of the 9-ball men's singles competition here at the 4th Asian Indoor & Martial Arts Games.
Taufiq was given a bye into the second round (round of 32) and made the most of it to take a 2-0 lead at the Songdo Convensia.
However, Yapp fought back to 3-3 and went ahead 5-3 before Taufiq refocused and won the next four frames to surge to a 7-5 advantage.
Though Taufiq got himself in trouble when some safety play from Yapp forced the Bruneian into conceding the next frame, a rejuvenated Taufiq would confidently clear out the next two frames to seal a date with United Arab Emirates Mohamed Hasan Ebrahim Al Hosani who progressed into the last-16 after shocking South Korean fan-favourite Ryu Seungwoo 9-8.
Taufiq, who had earlier called the single knock-out format competition brutal, was glad to have passed the first test.
I played more confidently when the scores were 5-3. I felt more natural in the end and just concentrated on playing my own game, said Taufiq.
I know I let him get back into the game when I was down 4-3 But at that time, I felt I just had to try my best to win, he added.
Taufiq had already beaten Yapp 10-6 to advance to the last-16 at last year's 4th Golden Break 9-Ball Invitational Championship in Subang Jaya, Malaysia, so he knew a thing or two about yesterday's adversary.
As in Malaysia, Taufiq took an early lead before watching Yapp come back but judging by the body languages yesterday, there was only going to be one winner when Taufiq evened the scores at 5-5 and went on to win the next two frames.
Yapp started off on the right foot after storming through the first frame, but he missed the decisive 9-ball and handed Taufiq a gift he gladly accepted.
Taufiq would clear the table on the next frame to make it 2-0 but Yapp pulled back to 2-1 when Taufiq failed to hit the 2-ball after a push and let Yapp mop up the rest.
Taufiqs safety play forced Yapp into a foul on the 5-ball, and the ensuing ball in hand helped Taufiq take a 3-1 cushion.
Yapp soon proved that he wasnt going to let one mistake affect his game as he went on a clear-break on the next frame and evened the scores at 3-3 after a dry-break from Taufiq in the next frame.
Both players spent an equal amount of time on the table in the next frame which was highlighted by Taufiq's perfectly executed jump-ball to pocket the 2-ball.
But after Taufiq pocketed the 5-ball in the wrong pocket, Yapp would go ahead 4-3 for his first lead of the game.
A scratch on the 4-ball by Taufiq saw his opponent pocket the remaining balls for a 5-3 advantage, but Taufiq now seemed to have a sharper glint in his eye and a more confident stride to his step.
Moving around the table with ease, he cleared up the next frame to pull to 5-4, and even though he had a dry-break the next rack and a scratch on the 5-ball when he was back on the table, he would win the 10th frame to even the scores at 5-5.
Yapp missed the 5-ball on the next rack, allowing Taufiq back on his feet, and a 6-5 lead.
A mistake-strewed 12th frame had Taufiq clear the last four balls for a 7-5 cushion, but poor positional play saw Taufiq gift the next rack to Yapp who only had to clear the 8 and 9-ball.
Taufiq, though, was as self-assured as ever.
He went through the next two racks on cruise-control the second of which Yapp produced a first dry-break and celebrated the win with an emphatic fist-pump and a relieved grin.