Sanchez Ruiz crowned world champion after ending Soufi fairytale

Photo: Taka Wu / Matchroom

by Ben Hudd • February 5, 2023

Francisco Sanchez Ruiz etched his name onto the prestigious World Pool Championship trophy for the first time in his career, bringing to an end the Mohammad Soufi fairytale in Sunday’s final in Kielce, Poland.

Sanchez Ruiz completed the illustrious blue-ribbon double following his triumph at September’s US Open Pool Championship in Atlantic City, pocketing the lucrative $60,000 top prize and extending his stay as the world number one.

Soufi had punished a safety blunder from the Spaniard in the opening rack and soon doubled his advantage with a break and run. A dry break allowed Sanchez Ruiz back to the table and he was faultless in restoring parity at two apiece.

Two well executed jump shots gave Soufi an opportunity to regain a slender lead, only for a missed four ball to gift Sanchez Ruiz a 3-2 lead. Further success with the short stick following a safety from his opponent allowed Soufi to level up at three each.

Soufi nicely struck a bank shot in the seventh rack to move 4-3 in front but spurned a couple of chances in the eighth, missing a relatively straightforward three-nine combination followed by a more awkward bank on the five ball. Sanchez Ruiz capitalised on those errors and proceeded to break and run to go 5-4 in front.

Sanchez Ruiz soon attempted a safety and a tremendous three-rail kick shot on the two ball created an opportunity for Soufi, although a misfired bank shot on the four ball let the former Derby City Classic champion open up a two-rack advantage.

Photo: Taka Wu / Matchroom

That same four ball which hindered Soufi’s hopes proved helpful in the following rack, with Sanchez Ruiz undercutting the pink and therefore allowing the Syrian to move within one rack. However, the Spanish ace soon regained his two-rack cushion following a safety battle.

Sanchez Ruiz subsequently attempted a three-way combination but was unable to get shape back on the two ball and gifted Soufi ball in hand. Now trailing only 7-6, the Syrian restored parity once again with a terrific bank on the eight ball, which concluded another safety exchange and restored parity at seven apiece.

Soufi scratched on the break for a third time and that proved costly as Sanchez Ruiz ran out with ball in hand to lead 8-7. Nevertheless, A rare dry break from him then allowed Soufi to run out and level up at eight each.

Sanchez Ruiz soon enjoyed a purple patch, taking full advantage of a missed four ball from Soufi as he then put together a timely three-pack to move 12-8 ahead and on the brink of glory.

There was time for another twist in the tale nonetheless as a missed seven ball gifted Soufi a lifeline, before the Syrian pulled off a break and run to reduce the arrears to only two racks.

It was now last-chance saloon for the underdog and his wild attempt at an ambitious bank on the one ball proved to be his last involvement. Sanchez Ruiz cleaned up from that position before unleashing a passionate roar and jumping onto the table.

Beforehand, Sanchez Ruiz had staged a remarkable comeback from 7-2 behind to defeat Austria’s Mario He in the semi-finals, while Soufi completed an 11-6 victory over Taiwan’s Wu Kun-Lin.

Soufi breaks into the world’s top 16 following his breakthrough campaign in Poland, securing World Pool Masters and Premier League Pool debuts in the process.

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