CHRIS Melling has given himself a 39th birthday present he won't forget.

'The Magician' from Keighley won one of America's most prestigious nine-ball pool tournaments.

But Melling had to play until the wee small hours to defeat Canada's John Morra in a thrilling 20th Derby City Classic in Indiana and win the crystal obelisk that goes with it.

The Yorkshireman trailed 8-3 only to reel off six successive frames to clinch the $16,000 (£11,321) first prize.

He tweeted: "Wow what a day, snapped off the derby city classic 9 ball championships. Won 14/15 matches to win it. Final was a classic. Was 8-3 down and won 9-8 against John Morra. Boom time."

The crowd were certainly entertained at the Horseshoe Casino and Hotel Southern Indiana in Elizabeth as the final two players out of an entry of 363 provided rich entertainment.

But Melling had to battle to even reach the final as Dennis Orcullo went into a 4-1 lead, trying to throw off the fast and loose style of Melling.

Unperturbed, however, Melling clawed his way into an 8-7 lead before outmanoeuvring his opponent in a snooker-style safety exchange to get over the line.

Melling, who had lost his only match 9-8 to Donny Mills, having led 8-5, led Morra 3-2 in the final only to lose the next six racks, but when Morra went an inch off perfect in the 12th rack, Melling pounced.

When it was all over, Melling's head fell forward as, probably exhausted and definitely relieved, he let his achievement sink in.

"Well played", said Morra to Melling.

"Some days, it's just not to be," said the mild-mannered Canadian later.