SINGAPORE - He was trembling before and after his match, but crucially, Aloysius Yapp was steady during it.
With firm hands and a cool head, the Republic's top pool player extended his incredible run of form on Friday (Sept 17) by beating world No. 1 player Shane van Boening 11-5 in the last 16 of the US Open 9-Ball Pool Championships in Atlantic City.
The win capped a marvellous eight days for Yapp, who had also beaten the world No. 2 and No. 3 players during that time.
World No. 8 Yapp, who has been in the United States for three weeks and will compete in various tournaments across the country until the end of October, said the magnitude of his rare feat has not sunk in yet.
Asked whether he ever imagined beating the world's top three players in quick succession, he replied with a chuckle: "Definitely not! And in all honesty I haven't thought much about it, really.
"I'm just happy because it shows that the work I've done on the mental side of things over the one year-plus with my coach and a sports psychologist, has worked out well. I'm happy I believe in myself and my own abilities more now."
Still, he admitted to feeling nerves ahead of his match with American star van Boening, who had won the US Open a record five times, between 2007 and 2016. They had met twice before, in 2014 and 2019, and Yapp lost both times.
"I was shaking before and after the match," he said. "I can't explain it. Maybe it was just nerves."
The 25-year-old was able to quickly shake off the tension, though, and raced into a 8-0 lead. Van Boening showed signs of a recovery by winning a few racks back but scratched the cue ball on a break, and Yapp capitalised to build on his lead and see out the race-to-11 format match.
He then carried the momentum of that win into the quarter-finals, where he beat Rodrigo Geronimo of the Philippines 11-6.
The Singaporean will next play Geronimo's compatriot, Denis Orcollo, in the semi-finals which is scheduled for 10pm on Saturday night (Singapore time). The final is set to take place five hours later, with the winner taking home US$50,000 (S$67,421).
Yapp, who first rose to prominence in 2014 when he won the Junior World 9-Ball Championship, said he would "definitely love" a first major senior title, but added: "I'm just taking it easy, and I'm going to focus on my own game and enjoy the experience."
His whirlwind week had seen him first score an upset over world No. 3 Jayson Shaw of Scotland at the World 10-Ball Championship in Las Vegas, en route to a third-place finish, which is the best performance by a Singaporean at a world meet at any iteration of pool.
The showing moved Yapp up from No. 20 in the world to his current rank, and he also won US$12,000 for his efforts.
He then went on to beat world No. 2 Joshua Filler, the defending US Open champion, in the competition's third round on Wednesday.