I arrived in Doha in very good form. Even though it didnt go to plan in Shanghia for my last event, I knew I was hitting the ball as good as ever. My 9th place finish in the world 10ball confirmed this to me, mainly because of the caliber of player that I beat there.
The draw came out and as usual this year it wasn't as easy as it could have been. My first match was against a highly regarded Singapore player, who had beaten Mark Gray 9-2 in Shanghai a couple of weeks ago, and finished 9th in that event. I had played and beat him before though, and with my confidence high I brushed him aside with a 9-4 win. My second match to qualify for the final 64 KO stage was against the Mecca's No1 player (middle east). Once again though I played near perfect and came through a comfortable winner by a scoreline of 9-4.
In this tournament there were only a couple of upsets in the group stages so nearly all the top players were on the winners side....so surely I would get a decent draw this time right?
.....no way, I got probably the toughest draw possible!! My first match in the race to 11 straight KO final 64 round was against the very person who I beat in the final match of my triumph in the 2007 world championship......Roberto Gomez of the Philippines. And, even though that 2007 fonal match was close, this one wasn't.....I tore him apart playing the perfect set of pool 11-4. So now I know for sure that I am playing great pool, I feel good on the cue and things are going well....but my last 32 match is against Fu Chei Wei, the very person that had beaten me 9-8 in Shanghai a couple of weeks before.....in that match I played well but didn't get a shot in the final rack, but in this match I played another perfect set, destroying Fu by an 11-1 scoreline!
The ball was starting to roll now and even though no tournament will ever compete with the 2007 event in Manila with the crowds and atmosphere etc, I was getting similar vibes as when I won the title in 2007.
Next on the hit list was the highly talented Ko Pin Yi (Taipei). This was a classic, a battle to the end. The match went back and forward until I found myself 9-7 down, and unlike my previous matches, I had made a couple of errors, so I needed to dig in deep and change up a gear. This I did, playing top notch stuff for the last 4 racks enabling me to come through an 11-9 winner.
So now I found myself in the quarter finals and only 3 wins away from another world crown! In my way was probably the greatest player in the world at the moment, world number1 ranked player, Dennis Orcollo (Philippines). From start to finish in this match every roll went Dennis' way, and there was nothing I could do as he played excellent too. He had done to me what I had done to all of my other opponents previous and beat me 11-4. It's not like I did anything wrong though, just one of those things, one of those matches where there was nothing I could do to change the outcome!
....after looking back at this tournament, it feels like a missed chance, because when I get to the final stages of tournaments I usually get stronger and stronger, and often finish the job by winning the thing, often, the hardest part for me is getting the ball rolling and getting to the final stages. But, having said this, on this occasion the rolls were definitely not with me, and this played every part in finishing my run.
As always, I will take the positives from this tournament just like I do with any other.....and there are plenty of positives to take from this one!
I know if I keep playing the way I am playing that there are plenty of big wins coming my way....it's just a matter of time, I've just gotta be patient and keep doing what I'm doing.
.....onto Austria next week for the next Eurotour......