105f0e513de19586fd96ac9bb848848d7d702b28.jpgThere is no doubt at all. Marco Zanetti is the star player of the year so far in three cushion. He was the best in the Lausanne Billiard Masters, in the Agipi Masters and took the European title after an amazing and sensational semifinal against Frédéric Caudron.
He won the Italian title for the 22nd time, a few weeks ago and again it was a special victory, like all his titles and victories this year. Zanetti starred in his country with two 3.750 average matches, followed by a logical title.
The old wolf showed his sharp teeth in all the tournaments he won this year, sometimes with an incredible comeback from impossible situations.The next mission: the World Games in Cali, Colombia, next month, starting off on 25th of July, where Marco meets the Vietnamese Xuan Cuong Ma in the first round.Kozoom’s reporter Markus Schönhoff spoke exclusively with the ‘Demolition man’.
893e13006b37815cdb24d7d01690b36852efac3d.jpgMarkus Schönhoff:  You turned 51 last month, but still there are hardly players at the world top with such strong nerves. How do you see yourself? Is this for you mentally the strongest phase of your life?
Marco Zanetti: ,,No doubt this is the strongest period in my career. I now show individually what I’ve done with the Agipi team.”
MS: After your victory in Lausanne and the Agipi Masters, you were the big favorite for the European championships in Brandenburg. And you managed to win again, you not only took the title, but also realized a European tournament average record of 2.500. How can you explain that dominance?
MZ: ,,Starting a tournament as the big favorite, was something completely new for me. But I tried to free myself from that role and played point by point, in every match. I’m really proud of this hattrick. I could fully concentrate, each match again and made the important points at crucial moments. You must not forget that a bit of luck is very important, that’s what you need to win.’’
,,And the good result, after the Europeans in the Italian championship, gives me hope that it is more than a short period in my career.”
MS: Billiard fans around the world will surely remember two matches this year. The semi-final in the Agipi Masters against Dick Jaspers, whom you defeated after having trailed 26 points. And the semi-finals at the Europeans, where you beat Frédéric Caudron after he had equaled the world record run (28 points) Can you describe the tension that you felt in those games?
MZ: ,,The match against Dick Jaspers was very special, to catch up 26 points in two innings. Then we both came under tremendous pressure. Many of my fans were watching the game on Kozoom with  a lot of tension, trembling as in a football stadium. Maybe I owe my last carom, a lucky shot, to them. It was certainly one of the most exciting matches ever. I will never forget how tired I felt after the match. I felt like I had conquered the Mount Everest.’’
,,The semifinal in Brandenburg against Frédéric Caudron was truly exceptional. After my good start, with an advantage of 15-3, Caudron made his magical run of 28. The game was not over, and suddenly I remembered all the major victories of the past few months. I went to the table and thought: Man… if you still manage to win this match, you write a new page in history of three cushion. The only thing I wanted, was to try it anyway. And from that moment I played in trance. It turned out in an unforgettable match. I felt calm and relaxed, scoring points and closing the gap. The pressure came over me for the last two points.”
,,Very remarkable is that I’ve heard from many people that they have cried at the end of the match. And not only people and fans from my country.”
MS: You always look very confident and relaxed at the table, even in very difficult situations. But how is it when you sit down on the chair and your opponent scores points, like Caudron in Brandenburg. What’s up in your mind?
MZ: ,,I’d like to explain that to the readers of Kozoom. Caudron’s run of 28 came at the right moment, because I was leading 15-3. When he was on ten points, I was still on the lead, but at twenty points, I was suddenly far behind. I was looking in admiration at my teammate from Agipi, on his way to a new world record.’’
,,Maybe I got that feeling, because such a high run is really impossible for me. When I make 17, 18 points, I feel too much pressure. When Caudron missed his 29th point, I felt sorry for him that he could not improve the record.’’
,,I used the break, immediately after his run, to focus on the rest of the match and I felt very well when I made my new start.’’
MS: You’re the captain of the Agipi team in the French league and you play matches in Austria for a few years now. Furthermore, you only play World cups and championships. That’s not too much, compared to other top players. Do you need the rest periods for your recovery and for your family?
MZ: ,,To be honest, I have not received other offers from other countries. In Innsbruck, I play for special reasons. I’m very good friends with Thomas Riml, founder of Mywebsport (play billiards on a distance over the world). That has nothing to do with my status as a professional player.”
MS: ,,The UMB (world federation) and CEB (European federation), two major organizations in three cushion, try to make their sport more attractive. The European championships in Brandenburg was a mega event, the latest project of the CEB. You were – and still are always a critical observer. How do you evaluate the current innovations,no set system, the number of points, Brandenburg as a mega event every two years? Are there innovations that you would like, to attractive our sport?
MZ: ,,There is an incredible development in three cushion. The technical level is growing closer to perfection, there are great players from many different countries, we see a struggle between different generations and there was the introduction of a time clock. The spectators can see fantastic matches everywhere, there is excitement. The matches to a number of points, instead of the setsystem, are making the duration of the matches predictable. That is essential for television and programming. We can not compare with tennis in popularity. And we can’t wish tv reports when matches with a setsystem have an uncertain duration between one hour and three and a half hours. Matches to 40 points take an average of 75 to 100 minutes. Some matches are played under the highest possible tension, such as the semi-final in Brandenburg. But still I would prefer a match length of 40 or 50 caroms for the major tournaments. In the golden years of Raymond Ceulemans, the averages were below 1.000 and the matches were played to 60 points. Today, the level has increased to 1.500 and more, but nowwe play to 40 points. I think that is an absolute contradiction. And it is strange that the international federations have introduced the system without asking us, top players, for their opinion.’’
Semi-finals and finals to 60 points, that would be even better. And probably it will take no more than two or two and a half hours.’’
MS: Two comeback questions: do you think that we see Marco Zanetti at the World championship for nation teams in Viersen next year? And two: you were third at the European championships in one cushion, in 1985, behind Ceulemans and Dielis. Can you imagine a comeback in a one cushion tournament, like Torbjörn Blomdahl in Brandenburg?
MZ: ,,It’s quite possible that I will act in Viersen, if I am officially asked by the Italian federation. But as long as I can decide for my own and there is no decent prize money, I will not play. We Italians are certainly not among the best teams, but that has nothing to do with it. The European championship in Brandenburg was organized with prize money, why should there be different for the World’s team championship?”
,,Regarding the second question: I will not play one cushion again. Three cushion is global, a discipline with always new discoveries. And it takes a lot of time and effort to be able to compete with the top players in the world.” Zanetti profile
Kozoom June 2013
Zanetti-Jaspers semifinal,Agipi 2013