LAUSANNE - Even if Martin Horn will be Sunday's winner of the third Lausanne Billiard Masters, his strategy will not change. The stylish German player (44) decided a few years ago to no longer play World Cups and concentrate on league play. He stands by that decision, even though he is still one of the world's elite.
On Saturday evening, Jaspers and Horn were the first to make certain of their semifinal spot. The two other semifinalists are Torbjon Blomdahl, the current world no.1, and Sung-Won Choi, the reigning world champion. Two-time winner Marco Zanetti booked a victory against Jaspers when it no longer mattered, he was eliminated in the group stage.
Torbjorn Blomdahl's clash with Eddy Merckx in a do-or-die bid for the semi's was the highlight of the day, and it kept spectators on the edge of their seats. The Swede turned it into a demonstration of opportunism, resilience, class and a healthy portion of luck in his decisive runs.
How about that scoreline in the later stages! The Belgian had a 32-26 lead after 13 innings. Three innings later, Blomdahl had crossed the finish line after runs of five, ten and four, Merckx no longer adding any points (40-32 in 16).
The victim of the event concluded: "I did nothing wrong. Blomdahl is of course Blomdahl, but he wins thanks to two or three major flukes and incredible run of the ball."
The semifinals on Sunday are:
10.00 uur: Martin Horn-Torbjon Blomdahl
12.00 uur: Sung-Won Choi-Dick Jaspers.
Martin Horn is the only player of the four who is no longer active in the international arena. He considers Diane Wild's invitation for the Lausanne Masters an honor and a recognition, and the same goes for the Dutch Christmas tournament. "But that is the extent of my international ambition", says the German, last year's runner-up to Marco Zanetti.
There is no doubt: Martin Horn is still one of three cushion's star tenors. He proves it almost weekly in the German, Belgian, Dutch and French leagues. Not without pride, he says: "Just look at my average in Belgium, where I have played 2.116 so far." As a comparison: Frederic Caudron has 1.932, Torbjorn Blomdahl 1.910 and Roland Forthomme 1.860.
Horn's performance on Saturday evening was nothing short of spectacular. Dick Jaspers was already certain of his place in the last round; who would join him would be decided in the match between Tasdemir and Horn. The Turk, recently victorious in the Ho Chi Minh World Cup and finalist in Guri and New York, was the big favorite.
Tasdemir was in the lead after ten innings (27-22), but then the German express train gained momentum, and the spectators in the Montbenon theater were treated to a demonstration of Horn's technique. Position play and technique: normally they are the bread & butter of the Turk. This time though, Horn accelerated with a 9, and delivered the coup de grace a few innings later with another 9: 40-39 in 16.
What was left were two matches in the group stage, and both winners would advance to the semi's. Torbjorn Blomdahl faced Eddy Merckx and Sung-Won Choi played Jeremy Bury.
Torbjorn Blomdahl saved his tournament by adding a win over Merckx to his escape against Sung-Won Choi.
Sung-Won Choi closed off the evening with a victory over Jeremy Bury in a match where the Korean had the initiative from start to finish. After ten innings he had created a gap (28-15), and in the 22nd inning the ever combative Frenchman had to throw the towel: 40-26.
The final standings from the Group stage:
1 Dick Jaspers 6-2.013-10
2 Martin Horn 6-1.906-10
3 Tayfun Tasdemir 4-1.940-16
4 Marco Zanetti 4-1.717-12
5 Torsten Danielsson 0-0.840-9
1 Torbjorn Blomdahl 6-1.835-10
2 Sung-Won Choi 6-1.670-9
3 Eddy Merckx 4-1.416-11
4 Jeremy Bury 4-1.370-9
5 Fernando Couto 0-0.555-5.