by Ben Hudd • October 15, 2022
Max Lechner overcame his quarter-final hoodoo to reach the US Open Pool Championship final four alongside defending champion Carlo Biado, Francisco Sanchez Ruiz and Ko Ping-Chung.
Click here for the bracket and live scores from the 2022 US Open Pool Championship
Lechner compiled three break and runs as he scuppered the valiant run from Britain’s Chris Melling, beating him 10-4 to reach his maiden major semi-final at the sport’s showpiece staging.
Lechner has finished fifth at the World Pool Championship and the World Pool Masters this season as well as last year’s US Open, but the Austrian cueist put those defeats behind him with his Atlantic City exploits.
“It’s the biggest relief in my life I guess after messing up multiple quarter-finals in the past,” expressed Lechner following his last eight victory. “This time I beat the demons in my head and went through.
“I like this break rule, it suits me. I played really, really good against Chris. I had a few rolls, which is always important of course. Chris is a great player so you need a few rolls to beat him.”
Lechner enters finals day eyeing the $50,000 top prize and the prestigious Barry Behrman trophy, but him becoming the champion would also see him clinch an unexpected Mosconi Cup debut ahead of good friend Albin Ouschan.
“I guess I’d kick out Albin from his Mosconi spot, so of course it would be a great feeling,” the Austrian laughed. “It’s every pool player’s dream to win this trophy, it would mean the world to me if I got it done tomorrow.”
The World Championship quarter-finalist becomes the first-ever Austrian to reach the US Open semi-finals. He will face Ko, having thrashed the Taiwanese sensation on his way to the International Open final three years ago.
Ko defeated former finalist Eklent Kaci 10-8 in a nip and tuck affair, with the Albanian left to rue a few crucial spurned opportunities, including a long two ball which rattled the pockets at 8-8 as Ko cleaned up to prevail.
Meanwhile, Biado will be vying to become only the fifth player to defend their US Open accolade on Saturday as his ideal title defence continued with a whitewash 10-0 victory over a bemused and struggling Hsieh Chia-Chen.
Biado recorded a 97 percent pot success rate compared to his opponent’s meagre 64 percent, with the Taiwanese player, who was competing in his second blue-ribbon quarter-final, unable to get to grips with the slickness of the table.
Spain’s Sanchez Ruiz pulled off a couple of exceptional jump shots to overcome Shane van Boening’s conquerer Alexander Kazakis, claiming three racks on the bounce from 8-7 down to book his spot in the semi-finals.