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World Pool Championship Officially Underway In Jeddah: Saudi Stars Debut On The Sport's Grandest Stage, With Global Stars Progressing On Electrifying First Day

World Pool Championship Officially Underway In Jeddah: Saudi Stars Debut On The Sport's Grandest Stage, With Global Stars Progressing On Electrifying First Day

Tuesday, June 4, 2024/ Editor -  

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  • Audiences witnessed sensational displays of cue mastery on historic Day 1 as hometown hero Waleed Albalkhi faced defending champion and world #1 Francisco Sánchez Ruíz
  • Seven Saudi Arabian national team players faced world's best on Monday which featured 32 opening round encounters
  • World Pool Championship taking place until June 8 at the Green Halls
  • Tickets available now at webook.com

Jeddah, Saudi Arabia – 4 June 2024: The 2024 World Pool Championship is officially underway in Jeddah as a series of high-quality matches kicked off the 'Crown Jewel' of the World Nineball Tour (WNT) in the best possible fashion on Monday.

In partnership with the Saudi Arabian Billiard & Snooker Federation (SABSF), Ministry of Sport, and Matchroom Multi-Sport, the 2024 edition makes its first-ever appearance in the Kingdom from June 3-8 – welcoming 128 of the planet's premier cueists for six days of action-packed competition.

Live from the Green Halls, audiences enjoyed sensational displays of cue mastery on a historic opening day which saw some of Saudi Arabia's brightest talents go head-to-head against the world's best players.

The most eagerly anticipated Day 1 encounter was the very first on Table 1 as defending champion Francisco Sánchez Ruíz launched his title defense against hometown hero Waleed Albalkhi. An energetic crowd watched on as the Spanish world #1 showed terrific form the prevail in his 'Race to 9' frames match.

Reflecting on his performance, Ruiz labeled this year's world championship in Saudi Arabia as the 'biggest ever' and spoke enthusiastically of the venue and his mindset looking ahead. He revealed: 'It was fantastic to be out there defending the world championship in the biggest event ever seen in our sport – I'm living the dream. Walking into the area, I thought 'Oh my, it's so big' – this was very exciting and I felt great out there. Playing with confidence is key and I'm going to enjoy every single moment here this week. I'm working harder than ever to stay at a high level whilst having fun and enjoying the game.'

Following his match against top seed Ruiz, Waleed Albalkhi opened up on the experience of representing the Kingdom on the grandest stage. One of 13 local players competing in Jeddah, he insisted that playing against the world's best is an opportunity that will benefit the Saudi talent pool in the years ahead.

Commenting on his debut appearance at a major international pool tournament, Waleed Albalkhi said: 'I played against an excellent player who is so strong and skilled. Luck was not on my side tonight but it's great that we are now going head-to-head against the biggest and best pool players. Facing these elite names, you learn a lot from them. With more experience in competitions like this, we will keep improving and get better and better. This was my first time in a major event and I'm blessed that I was able to represent our national team.'

Broadcast worldwide in over 90 countries, audiences enjoyed 32 first round matches on Day 1 with Khalid Alghamdi, Hussein Mustafa, Nawaf Shamardal, Abdulla Alshammari, Ahmed Al Ahmadi, and Ahmed Zahid the other Saudi Arabian national team players who made their World Pool Championship debuts.

Monday's action also featured the world's top 10 stars in action, with #5 Jayson Shaw securing victory in his opening match of the 2024 championship. 

After his match, Shaw revealed that the World Pool Championship being staged in the Kingdom is something welcomed by the WNT roster. The Scottish cueist, who captained Team Europe to 2023 Mosconi Cup victory, said: 'Coming to Saudi Arabia and having a tournament here is incredible. This event is a whole new level in terms of what I've seen and I don't think there will be many more events looking like this – I speak for all the players in saying that it's amazing. I played really well to finish the match and my goal now is to win the next one and reach the knockout stages.'

The World Pool Championship continues on Tuesday with an additional 32 matches to decide the second-round line-up. A further six local players are involved again on Day 2 with seven of the world's top 10 also in action.

Saudi Arabia is one of the fastest-growing countries in world sport – a journey being propelled by Vision 2030, which seeks to increase weekly participation in sports, cultivate a sports economy, and elevate local athletes' international competitiveness.

Since its inception in 2015, Vision 2030 has inspired never-before-seen levels of engagement and participation across the Kingdom. Within this time, nationwide sports participation has risen by 300%, female weekly activity by 400%, and organized sports groups by 800%.

Hosting international sporting events has also inspired the population and encouraged men, women, boys, and girls to participate in sports. Over 100 events have been held in the Kingdom since 2018, welcoming more than 2.5 million attendees.


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