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Dynamite Darren, U.S. Open Champ
Oct 23, 2010, 10:06 PM

CHESAPEAKE, Va. -- Even before the last ball fell at the 2010 U.S. Open, plenty of spectators, referees and fellow players tabbed Darren Appleton's 15-13 final victory over Corey Deuel the greatest championship in the event's 35 year history.

Playing with the newly introduced win-by-two rule, Appleton and Deuel went well past the initial race to 13. In an absolutely epic slugfest, the two traded racks late, with each player watching the other break for the match.

Knotted at four apiece, the match first swung toward Appleton, who took the next four racks for an 8-4 lead. But Deuel never allowed the 32-year-old Brit to feel completely comfortable with the lead. The American, who won the U.S. Open title in 2001, worked himself back into the match. Facing a 11-9 deficit, Deuel cleared an dry break, then took the next two from the break to get on the hill, 12-11.

But a dry break allowed Appleton to knot it at 12-12 before getting on the hill with a break and run. Deuel again evened the match, but scratched to cede control back to Appleton. He cleared that table, then cracked open the 29th rack, with the 8 ball slowly creeping into the side pocket. From there, the map to the championship was set.

"When I saw that, it was rather simple," he said. "But in that situation, anything is missable."

Appleton eased through the final table, allowing his nerved to tighten up on the 7 ball before easing into straight-in position on the 9.

"At that point, the only way I was going to miss was if my hand fell off," he said.

Sure enough, he pocketed the clinching 9, with his countrymen (including Chris Melling, Karl Boyes, Daryl Peach, Jayson Shaw and Scott Higgins) jump-starting the celebration.

Amid the celebrations, though, Deuel stood to the side, dejected with knowing he was on the unfortunate end of a match that somebody had to lose.

"I'm not disappointed with how I played," he said. "It's not like I dogged it at the end. He creeped a ball in on that last break and that was the difference. ... It's just a huge disappointment to come so close."

Appleton is the first British winner of the U.S. Open title. The win marks the former English 8-Ball ace's third international title, following the 2008 World 10-Ball Championship and 2009 World Pool Masters.

"I really can't compare it to the World 10-Ball," he said. "But I think I'll enjoy this one more.

"The 10-ball title was more of a weight of my chest. This one, I think I get to enjoy this one."