Chou is Champion at Wisconsin Apex Open
The last time that Chieh-Yu Chou and Allison Fisher met in the championship of a professional tournament, the reigning world champion in both 9 and 10-ball white-washed her opponent in the finals of the World 9-Ball Championships in January at Harrah’s Resort in Atlantic City.
Squaring off today in a rematch Sunday evening in the finals of the Apex Wisconsin Open, Fisher gave Chou everything she could handle and then some before ultimately falling in three sets at Ho Chunk Gaming in the Wisconsin Dells, 2-4, 4-2, 4-1. The victory in the 58-player event was Chou’s first in a Pro Billiard Series, having previously placed third at last year’s World Team Championships and Puerto Rico Open.
The players traded the opening two racks of the first set, then Chou took the lead after Fisher failed to get a ball to fall on the break in the third game. The reigning World 10-Ball champion appeared to be in position to convert a missed 3 ball by her opponent into another winning rack but missed the 9 ball in the corner pocket, allowing the Hall of Famer to tie the score again. Fisher then used a combination shot on the 10 ball in the fifth rack to take the lead and a safety on the 1 ball after the break in the following rack to secure the first set, 4-2.
After Chou successfully landed a combination on the 6 and 8 balls in the opening rack of the second set, she appeared to be on her way to taking an early lead – until she missed a makable 7 ball in the corner pocket and allowed Fisher to get on the board first. The 35-year-old from Chinese Taipei then used successful safeties in the next two games to take a 2-1 advantage and capitalized on a missed 2 ball by her opponent to climb onto the hill. With the 6 and 8 balls tied up in the following game, Chou attempted to play a safety but instead left a wide-open shot for Fisher, who cleared the table to cut the deficit to 3-2. Standing at the table with the break and a chance to tie, Fisher scratched and Chou ran the rack to take the second set and tie the match.
Chou opened the final set by forcing Fisher into a foul then used ball-in-hand to clear the table. Hall of Famer responded by executing a safety that resulted in a scratch by her opponent in the following game. Rather than attempt to run out, Fisher elected to attempt another safety in the hopes of forcing another foul but Chou was instead able to get out and increase her lead. Now trailing 2-0, Fisher cut the lead when her opponent broke dry and left an open table but back-to-back misplayed safeties in consecutive games down the stretch allowed her opponent to close out the match and win the championship.
Chou reached the finals by defeating Bulgaria’s Kristina Zlateva in the semifinals, with the two players splitting the first four racks of the opening set. Chou broke the tie with a break-and-run and reigning world champion was in position in the following game to claim the set but misplayed position on the 5 ball and fouled. Zlateva used the opening to tie the match and she had a chance to steal the set in the next game but her cue ball was kicked into the corner pocket on the break. After receiving ball-in-hand, Chou missed a 3 ball but was able to maintain the table through a safety and won the opening round, 4-3.
Chou took a 2-0 lead in the second set through a handful of successful safeties. Zlateva had a chance to get on the board in the third rack after winning a safety exchange on the 2 ball but missed the 5 ball. Chou was able to claim the rack through a safety exchange then sealed the victory and a trip to the finals after Zlateva missed the 4 ball in the fourth game.
The second semifinal pitted Fisher against Russia’s Kristina Tkach, who got on the board first after forcing a Fisher foul. She added to the lead when her opponent left a wide open 1 ball after a safety but Fisher cut her deficit in half when used a long cut shot on the 7 ball after a safety to propel her to a run out. Tkach pushed the lead back to two racks when she forced her opponent into committing three fouls then closed out the set when Fisher scratched while pocketing the 9 ball in the fifth rack.
Tkach got on the board first in the second set but a missed the 8 ball in the next game, which allowed the Hall of Famer to tie the score. Fisher took the lead with a safety on the 8 ball in the next rack, then scratched on the break in the next game to allow Tkach to tie the score. After the Russian failed to land a ball on the break in the fifth game, Fisher had a chance to regain the lead but came up short on position on the 6 ball. After it appeared Tkach had won the rack on a safety, she forfeited the table when she scratched while trying to pocket the game-winner. Tkach again tied the score when she won a safety battle on the 1 ball and appeared to be in position to close out the match in the next game after winning a safety exchange on the 2 ball but again scratched into the side pocket while trying to secure position on the 10 ball, handing fisher ball-in-hand and a 4-3 second set win.
Fisher used solid safeties to win back-to-back games to open the deciding set and had a chance to increase her lead even further but missed the 10 ball in the third rack. The Russian had a chance to tie the score when her opponent missed a bank attempt on the 3 ball and left an open table but she missed the 7 ball in the corner pocket, instead handing Fisher a 3-1 lead. The Hall of Famer had another opportunity to close out the match after another safety exchange in the fifth game, but jumped the cue ball off of the table and gave her opponent an open run out which cut the lead to 3-2. After Tkach missed the 7 ball in the following rack, Fisher took a scenic and stressful route to victory, successfully executing a table-length bank shot on the 9 ball while nearly scratching in the side pocket in the process.
“That was the most unbelievable match that I think I’ve ever been in,” said Fisher. “Kristina started out like a train and had me under all sorts of pressure. I really wasn’t in it and she had a couple of funny shots and it gave me new life. It was the most weird match.”
The Apex Wisconsin Open was the second tournament of the season for this year’s Predator Pro Billiards Series schedule. The Pro Billiard Series is a series of open, professional events held around the world to provide more opportunities for professional and aspiring pool players to compete in high-quality events, earn more income, sharpen their skills, and earn their way into the Predator World 10-Ball Championship held in Las Vegas each year as part of the CueSports International Expo.