Tenth place. But he’s back.


Posted by Bert VAN MANEN on August 2, 2015

Bert van ManenSemih started his comeback about a year ago, and it has not been a march of triumph so far. We all could have told him it was going to be tough, and he probably knew. In the eight years he was not in World Cups, the level went up considerably. There’s another thirty or forty players who can average 1.3 or better for a season, make 25 in 10 if the balls roll well. The World Cup qualifications are a minefield, and Sayginer is yet to make it to the other side unscathed.

Guri, 2014. Semih loses twice, in a group with Ma Xuon Cuong and his countryman Cenet. He makes 242 in 153, which is 1.581. That of course, includes all the earlier rounds.  Not in the main tournament, but the average is promising.

Hurghada,2014. Sent home by Ronny Brants, who wins the flight with Sayginer and Philipoom. Heroic performance by the Belgian amateur. Semih averages 1.302 (56 in 43).

Semih Sayginer - 2015 World Cup Luxor, Egypt Photo by Ton Smilde
Semih Sayginer – 2015 World Cup Luxor, Egypt
Photo by Ton Smilde

Luxor, 2015.He goes out in the group stage, his up-and coming countryman Birol Uymaz advances.  Semih makes 40 in 38, which is 1.052.

Porto, 2015. Again Uymaz stands in his way. Semih beats him, but loses to Juan Zapata Garcia, and Uymaz wins the group on average: he has 1.7 and Semih has 1.6.

And then there is the Verhoeven Open in New York. No world ranking points, but still prestigious enough a tournament for him to travel to. I have to say, I admire his attitude. He is not seeded, starts in the earliest qualifying round like any tourist player, which is what he has done in the World Cups as well. I know a few Dutch guys who have been away from the action for a while, and they expect a red carpet to celebrate their return. Not going to happen gentlemen.

Back to Semih. He stays undefeated in the first prelim in NY, even though with serious players like Carranco and de Jaeger, he is not in the easiest group. His average is 1.667. In the semifinal stage, Sayginer loses to Blomdahl, Garcia and Sidhom, wins his other six matches. He averages 1.763, and this is getting interesting. We are playing to 35 now, and it’s nine matches. That average has significance. Semih is fourth in his semifinal group, behind TB, Garcia and Sidhom, but with the 2nd highest average. He fully deserves his place in the final 16.

2016 World Championship Teams Viersen, Germany. Photo by Ton Smilde
2016 World Championship Teams Viersen, Germany.
Photo by Ton Smilde

In the knock-out stage, Semih leads Murat Naci Coklu 37-27 in 17, but the 2004 European champion runs out with 13. Not a lot you can do about that. TB did the same to him a day earlier, running 12 and out when it was 31-23 in 10! Sayginer ends the final third of the tournament with a 1.885 average and 10th place. At the end of the day, only DJ, the tournament winner, TB, MZ and FC have a higher average than Semih. Tasdemir, the losing finalist, played brilliantly all week and averaged 1.738, 6th best.



2007-World-Championship-Teams-Viersen. Photo by Ton Smilde
Photo by Ton Smilde

Sayginer has not had the best of luck in the World Cups he has been in, but he took it on the chin and soldiered on. His play in NY was as good as it has been in years, the 1.885 proves it. Wonderful cue ball control, a profound understanding of the lines, and of course that legendary stroke. His body language needs improving, but even though success has eluded him since his comeback, Semih plays mouth-watering 3-cushion. I could watch him for days. Currently 64th on the world ranking, I could not care less: he is once again one of the 20 best players in the world.