Ekonomopoulos Powers his way through at China Open

APPLETON SHOWN THE DOOR IN SHANGHAI

By Ted Lerner/WPA Press Officer

(Shanghai, China)–Greece’s Nick Ekonomopoulos certainly has a name that is not easy to say, but surely not easy to forget either. And if the Athens native continues to play like he has this week in Shanghai, his five syllable moniker will be soon rolling off the tongues of even native Chinese speakers.

The 30 year old bludgeoned one of Taiwan’s pre-tournament favorites, Ko Pin Yi, 9-2, to advance into the single elimination knockout round of 32 here at the 2012 China Open, which begins tomorrow. The win over Ko was Ekonomopoulos’ second straight drubbing of a player from Taiwan. On Thursday he easily beat last year’s runner up Hsu Kai Lin, 9-4.

“This is only my second tournament abroad outside Europe,” Ekonomopoulos said after beating Ko. “I’m just trying to relax. But I’m playing good. I’ve been playing good for a while now.”

MG 5023   Copy 22 Ekonomopoulos Powers his way through at China Open

Greece’s Nick Ekonomopoulos certainly has a name that is not easy to say, but surely not easy to forget either. And if the Athens native continues to play like he has this week in Shanghai, his five syllable moniker will be soon rolling off the tongues of even native Chinese speakers.

Indeed he has. He won the Austrian Open on the Euro Tour back in June. A few weeks later he found his way to Qatar for the World 9-ball and won a tough qualifier. In the main event in Doha Ekonomopoulos showed serious bottle as he took eventual champion Darren Appleton to the limit in the round of 16. He combines some serious talent with a quiet and confident swagger on the table that when combined is clearly intimidating to opponents.

“He’s got an agressive game,” said the Netherlands Nick Van Den Berg. “He’s been hanging around for a long time and now he’s starting to make his mark.”

There’ll be many hoops for the talented Greek to jump through before he can think about lifting the cup on Sunday. But he’s already starting to make a big name for his big name and he’s sure to make some noise before it’s all over.

The first two sessions on Judgement Day at the China Open proved daunting for quite a few players as the fields in both the men’s and women’s events began to take shape for the knockout stages. Easily the biggest surprise in the first two sessions of Friday’s play was the ouster of World Number 1, and World 9-ball champion Darren Appleton. Appleton had lost a last rack decider the previous night to Hong Kong’s Kenny Kwok. Today on the losers’ side of the bracket, the Englishman drew a very difficult opponent in 2009 China Open champion Chang Yu Lung of Chinese Taipei.

Chang burst out to an early lead and never looked back as he consistently found himself with open shots, while Appleton was continually on the defensive. Chang won going away 9-2 to advance while Appleton had to pack up his cues and hit the road.

Appleton’s countryman and defending champion Chris Melling finally had an easy day as he blew past Canada’s John Morra, 9-3 to advance.

“I played perfect,” Melling said afterward. “Whenever I win a tournament I always lose a match along the way, so I’ve already lost one and I’m hoping that’ll be the same this time.”

The Philippines Lee Van Corteza continued to impress. He easily defeated Japan’s Naoyuki Oi in a winner’s side match, 9-3, to qualify for the round of 32. Fellow Filipinos Dennis Orcullo and Carlo Biado were on the edge playing from the loser side in this double elimination event but both won–with Orcollo beating the Netherlands Nick Van Den Berg 9-7,– and both will be back in the evening session to try and qualify.

Easily the most roughed up player of the week is China’s Dai Yong. On Thursday, Dai took Melling to the limit but lost right at the wire, 9-8. Today, Dai had Germany’s Read more ...