National cueist Ahmad Taufiq Murni in action during last July's 4th Asian Indoor & Martial Arts Games (AIMAG) in Incheon, South Korea. Taufiq beat Mohammad Hassan Al Hosaini during last year's AIMAG, but the United Arab Emirates player got the better of the Bruneian at the World 9-Ball China Open in Shanghai yesterday. BT file
It is win or go home for Ahmad Taufiq Murni at the World 9-Ball China Open in Shanghai after losing 9-7 to Mohammad Hassan Al Hosaini of United Arab Emirates (UAE) in the first round yesterday.
It was sweet revenge for Mohammad Hassan as he lost 9-6 to the 25-year-old at the 4th Asian Indoor & Martial Arts Games (AIMAG) in Incheon, South Korea in July last year. Taufiq will face World No 57 Hajata Hijikata in the losers' bracket at the Shanghai Pudong Yuanshen Stadium at 1.30pm today.
He will require two wins in order to equal his showing at the competition back in 2011, when he reached the last-32 - a memorable outing capped by a 9-3 win over former World No 1 Ralf Souquet in the round of 64.
Victory today will see him face the winner of the matchup between China's Chu Bing Jie and Albin Ouschan of Austria. It will be the end of the Bruneian's campaign, though, should he lose another match.
The national cueist started out well to open up a 3-1 lead at the US333,200 World Pool-Billiard Association (WPA) event. However, the Bruneian stumbled on his safety plays - allowing Mohammad Hassan to bounce back with five unanswered frames to steal the lead at 5-3.
The game was tied at 6-6 before Mohammad Hassan took the next two racks in the race-to-9 match. Taufiq did manage to win another frame, but it was not enough to prevent Mohammad Hassan from closing it out.
National cue sports coach Lim Tat Hwe felt that improvements need to be made for safety plays after the loss. "Both of them had difficulty on controlling the cue ball. The one can get used to the table faster is the one that has the advantage and the higher chance of winning," explained Lim in a text interview.
"Everyone had the same problem and it is down to minimising the number of mistakes. "But the table is not an excuse as overall Taufiq lost out on safety play. He should do better in making the right decisions in the next game," continued Lim.
The competition has attracted the best in the world for both the men's and women's events. The 64-player main draw has current World No 1 Thorsten Hohmann of Germany, the trio of Filipinos Lee Vann Corteza (No 2), Carlo Biado (No 3) - who is in the same bracket as Taufiq - and Dennis Orcollo (No 11).
Finland's Mika Immonen (No 5), Nick Ekonomopoulos of Greece (No 6), the duo of Darren Appleton (No 7) and Chris Melling (No 9) of Great Britain, Taiwanese Ko Pin Yi (No 8) and American Shane Van Boening (No 10) are also in the fray for the title.
The winner will take home US$40,000.