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Ouschan Shocks World Straight-Pool Field with Run to Semifinals
Aug 30, 2008, 3:09 PM

Ouschan kept it together while her opponents fell apart. (Photo courtesy Wei Chao/www.cuetable.com)
EAST BRUNSWICK, N.J. —Austria's Jasmin Ouschan is only two matches away at the Predator World 14.1 Championship from one of the most improbable feats in pool history — to be the first woman ever to win a men's world championship title.

Ouschan, the 22-year-old from Austria, defeated straight-pool ace Mika Immonen in the round of 16 and defending champion Oliver Ortmann in the quarterfinals to become the first woman to ever reach the semifinals of a men’s world championship event.

The semifinals and final will take place Saturday afternoon and evening at the Hilton East Brunswick hotel.

Ouschan reached the final 32 with the worst record in the remaining field, holding more losses than wins (3-4) in the round-robin portion of the competition. She then just barely squeaked into the final 16, which started the single-elimination portion of the championship.

As the No. 16 seed, she met top-seed Immonen, Ouschan came out strong with a run of 72 early on and never trailed from there. Immonen, clearly feeling the pressure, made several uncharacteristic mistakes despite several chances to come back. At one point down 122-26, Immonen closed to within two racks. But too many unforced errors gave Ouschan the breathing room she needed to ice Finland’s “Iceman,” 200-174.

The victory put Ouschan in the quarterfinals, guaranteeing a top-8 finish that would match her groundbreaking performance at the World Championship in 2006. Her opponent this year was defending champion and straight-pool legend Ortmann.

As in the earlier match with Immonen, Ouschan lead the entire match while Ortmann played catch-up. Though Ouschan's game was not stellar, Ortmann made more errors than his opponent and appeared frustrated the entire match. Ouschan went on to win, 200-133.

The victory filled out the final four of the tournament, with Ouschan set to play Francisco Bustamante of the Philippines in one semifinal, and an all-Netherlands matchup set for the other semi between Neils Feijen and Nick Van den Berg.

Bustamante’s trip to the semis included a 200-137 victory over American threat Danny Harriman in the round of 16, and a 200-141 win against Huiji See of the Netherlands in the quarters.

Feijen ended America’s hopes by defeating John Schmidt, 200-185, in a tight and tense quarterfinal matchup. Schmidt led for most of the match, and Feijen made a crucial miss when trailing 185-182. Luckily, Feijen left Schmidt no easy shot, and Schmidt went for a high-pressure cross-side bank. Schmidt fired the ball into the pocket and landed perfectly for an easy break-out shot, to the audiences delight and applause. Then he missed. Schmidt in his frustration and disgust swiped the rest of the rack with his cue and gave up the match to Feijen, who was visibly relieved to not have to run the last 18 balls.

Van den Berg earned his semifinal berth with a 200-133 win over Germany’s Thorsten Hohmann.