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Pool: Singapore's Aloysius Yapp retains Michigan Open title

Singapore's top pool player Aloysius Yapp retained an international title for the first time, by beating Hong Kong's Robbie Capito 4-2, 4-1 in the Michigan Open final on Saturday.

In doing so, the world No. 11 also secured a spot in the 2023 World 10-Ball Championship, claimed a US$20,000 (S$28,600) cheque, and is set to rejoin the sport's top 10.

In the 2021 final, Yapp had beaten Roberto Gomez of the Philippines 4-0, 4-2 to record the most significant breakthrough win of his career before going on to become world No. 1.

The 26-year-old was again dominant in the 2022 edition against world No. 38 Capito, playing patient pool and clever safety shots when he had to while maintaining excellent cue-ball control for most parts of the tie.

Yapp captured the first set after winning the battle for the 6-ball in the sixth rack, and played efficient pool to go 3-0 up in the second set as Capito looked the more nervous player as he struggled for good positions in his first final.

The 21-year-old, who is of Filipino descent, pulled one back with a series of tough shots but when he left the 2-ball open in the next rack, Yapp cleared the table with minimum fuss and celebrated by pumping his right fist.

Earlier in the 10-ball tournament, the southpaw had beaten unranked Taiwanese Kuo Hsuan-wei and world No. 80 Hsieh Chia-chen, as well as Kuwait's Bader Al Awadhi (29th) and Canada's John Morra (ninth).

Then, on the final day of competition at the Kellogg Arena in Battle Creek, Michigan, the 26-year-old showed nerves of steel in three knockout rounds across nine hours to emerge as the last man standing from a field of 76 players.

First, he survived a brief comeback from Scotsman Jayson Shaw (14th) in their quarter-final to win 4-3, 4-0, and then looked to be cruising to the final when he led Taiwanese Chang Jung-lin (56th) 4-2, 3-1 in their semi-final.

However, one inaccurate jump shot, another loose safety shot, and a miss on a routine 1-ball later, Yapp found himself in a high-stakes shootout.

In this 10-ball event, players need to win two first-to-four-racks sets to progress to the next round.

If both players win one set each, the tie is determined by a shootout. With the cue ball on the head string in the left and right segments, each player takes turns to try to pocket the 10-ball on the foot spot.

The one who makes the most pots in four attempts wins, and if the stalemate persists, they enter sudden death, where a player wins when he pots the 10-ball and the opponent misses.

In the last eight, Chang had outlasted Russian Fedor Gorst (37th) 8-7 in the shootout. But with a place in the final on the line, he blinked first and missed his second attempt, as Yapp was perfect with his four innings to win 4-2, before going on to beat Capito.

Singapore was also represented by world No. 58 Sharik Sayed at Battle Creek. The 32-year-old claimed a big scalp by beating SEA Games 10-ball champion Carlo Biado of the Philippines in his run to the last 16 where he was eliminated by Shaw.

Nevertheless, Sharik pocketed US$2,500, and the duo will remain in the United States for a slew of events including the Oct 6-8 Sandcastle 9-Ball Open, Oct 10-15 US Open, Oct 19-22 Ohio Open and Oct 28-Nov 5 US International 9-Ball Open.