Pool player flies across the globe for Singapore wedding before stunning world No. 1 in Puerto Rico
Like Singapore’s other top pool players, Sharik Sayed had been playing on the United States circuit since September.
But on Nov 6, the 32-year-old broke off from the pack that includes Aloysius Yapp and Toh Lian Han to embark on a whirlwind itinerary.
He drove seven hours from Virginia to New York to catch a six-hour flight to San Francisco and connect to a 16-hour one back to Singapore for the biggest match of his life – his wedding with 30-year-old civil servant Vishalashi Muniandy.
After he arrived in Singapore on Nov 8, the couple went to the Registry of Marriages and prepared for the wedding ceremony on Nov 11. The following night, he set off on another 28-hour journey to rejoin his teammates for the Puerto Rico Open.
Said Sayed, a coach and scholar of the Ronnie O’Sullivan Snooker Academy: “We had booked the wedding in May 2021 and there was a chance the Puerto Rico tournaments might not happen, so I had to fly back and forth.
“It’s crazy to think I travelled back and forth around the world in five days but I actually enjoyed it. It was an exhausting but amazing experience.”
Focusing on the wedding ceremony while he was in Singapore, he was unable to train and admitted to being “out of touch” at the start of the Puerto Rico Open.
World No. 62 Sayed had to work through the loser bracket after an early defeat by Poland’s ninth-ranked Wojciech Szewczyk, but made it past unranked Finn Joonas Ohtonen, world No. 38 Greek Dimitrios Loukatos and world No. 46 Taiwanese Hsieh Chia-chen to reach the round of 32.
Remarkably, he upset Spain’s world No. 1 Francisco Sanchez-Ruiz 4-3, 3-4, 5-4 in their clash on Thursday, before losing to Poland’s 32nd-ranked Daniel Maciol in the next round and picking up a cheque for US$2,000 (S$2,750).
Singapore’s other representatives, Yapp, Toh and Sharan Shekaran had lost in the earlier rounds of the 10-ball event.
Sayed trains five to eight hours a day.
“By the time I played Francisco, I had played quite a few matches and was back in stroke already," he said.
“It felt fantastic to beat the world No. 1, and it felt good to overcome and perform under a lot of pressure. This is validation of my training – I feel I have been playing better and should continue to practise the way I have been doing.”
Next up for the Singaporeans is the Nov 19-22 World 8-Ball Championship on the same Caribbean island, and Sayed is plotting another breakthrough among the field of 126 players.
He said: “My goal is to reach the final 16 or do even better, but anything can happen so I am mainly focused on my performance.”
While this will be his last tournament of the year, Sayed is not done with travelling yet.
“I’ll go back to Singapore, and then my wife and I will go for our honeymoon," he said. "We have not decided where yet, but we will decide in the next few days."