by EPBF • October 10, 2022
Austria’s Mario He claimed the Italian Open in Treviso, winning the championship match 9-5 as he defeated Albania’s Eklent Kaci.
It was He’s first Euro Tour title in over three years, having reached the semi-final stage in the last two events. Despite having a very consistent year and going deep at any number of tournaments, this was He’s first victory of 2022.
The Italian Open took place at the Best Western Premium BHR Treviso Hotel and started out with nearly 230 players, which played down to the final four for the Monday evening televised stages. He and Kaci were the last two men standing and both played their parts in an entertaining finale.
“It feels very good, especially when you come very close all the time,” He said. “It’s another award for playing good but I think I needed it. It feels really good before you go into the holiday break before next year and I’m very happy about this win.
“When you are that close all the time, you want to win at least one or a few tournaments but there are so many other great players who can play a perfect set on you. This time I played really good and I got the rolls in some matches. I could have been out earlier but when you get lucky, you have to take it and still play good and try to win it.”
Both players got to grips straight away and they shared the first four racks with their breaks to set the score at 2-2 in the early stages. He took the fifth game, running out from his break, before Kaci found himself blocked out after downing two balls in the next. His jump shot on the three wobbled in the jaws and stayed out, enabling He to take one against the break for a 4-2 lead.
The Austrian had his break working well for him as two balls went in the next and with the remainder out in the open, he cleared the table for a three-rack lead at 5-2. That became 6-2 following a dry break from Kaci but he got to the table in the next and ran out to reduce the deficit to 6-3. That became 6-4 following another solid break-off but He came with some excellent shots in the next game to keep himself at the table and run-out for a 7-4 lead.
There were multiple visits in the next rack but it was Kaci who took it after He found himself blocked by the knuckle of the centre pocket with just two balls on the table. His jump shot failed to connect with the eight ball and it became 7-5. A solid break from He gave him a look at the run out which he took advantage of to reach the hill.
They both exchanged high-quality safeties in what was the final rack before Kaci finally failed to make contact, kicking at the one ball, to give He ball-in-hand and a golden chance to close the match out, which he did to secure the title.
“It was closer than what the final score was and it could have been way closer,” He added. “I didn’t break that well but I got away with it, making a ball and still having a shot at it. Eklent broke good but didn’t have as many shots as me after the break so that was the key in this match.
“I’m looking forward to taking a break, getting some energy for next year and just relaxing at home with family and friends.”
Earlier in the semi-finals, Kaci had won 9-5 over Miesko Fortunski who had gamely battled to the closing stages of the tournament despite using a succession of borrowed cues after his own set went missing in transit. He, meanwhile, had made his way to the final, derailing Wiktor Zielinski by a similar scoreline in their semi-final.