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"The Pearl" To Face "The Nugget"
by Mike Panozzo Jul 17, 2003, 5:34 PM EST

If United Kingdom pool fans have yet to tune in to the 2003 empirepoker.com World Pool Championship, you can bet they’ll be dialed in to Sky Sports’ coverage from the Cardiff International Arena in Cardiff, Wales, Friday night. In a battle that’s sure to bring some volume to the cavernous CIA, English snooker hero Steve Davis will tilt lances with defending champion Earl Strickland of the U.S. Davis earned his shot at "The Pearl" Thursday evening by holding off former world champion Kunihiko Takahashi of Japan, 9-6.

"Oh, this is what you play for," said Davis, six-time world snooker champ. "To go up against the best. It’s going to be fun."

Strickland, however, measured up his opponent in a Sky Sports interview, saying, "If he gives me three or four chances, he’s mine."

The Strickland-Davis match will highlight a day of super bouts as the $300,000 tournament enters the round of 16. In the day’s opening match, Filipino giants Efren Reyes and Francisco Bustamante will go head to head in a contest that could draw millions of prime-time viewers in the Philippines.

Yet another critical match Friday will pit 2001 world champion Mika Immonen of Finland against 2002 semifinalist Ching-Shun Yang of Chinese Taipei. Yang, a popular choice to hoist the 2003 trophy, rattled off nine consecutive games in a 9-3 thumping of red-hot Ralf Souquet of Germany. More than a few players on hand called Yang’s run the most impressive display of surgical 9-ball they’d seen in years.

For complete Group standings, and Final 64 pairings, visit: http://www.worldpoolchampionship.com/results.asp

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