China Open 2019 Qualifiers

The qualifying round for the 2019 China OPen were played over the last three days. Mark Selby is the defending Champion, as such he has his last 128 match held-over as do the World Champion Mark Williams, and China n°1, Ding Junhui.

Ronnie didn’t enter, and he’s the only top player who opted out. But it’s no real surprise.

Most of the top seeds will make the trip to Beijing. The only top 16 player who lost his first round match is Shaun Murphy, beaten 6-4 by Adam Stefanow. Shaun is really going through a very bad spell. Other surprising results include a whitewash of Martin Gould by Rod Lawler of all players, as well as defeats for Jimmy Robertson, Tom Ford, Matthew Stevens and Michael White. The latter is also having a nightmare season.

All results are on snooker.org

Today, the Shoot-out starts and although Ronnie isn’t playing, he will be there, with Andy Goldstein,  This is what he tweeted:

Don’t miss out on this weeks shoot out, I’ll be there chatting you through the whole shabang

It’s the first time this event is on Eurosport, and of course it’s part of Ronnie’s job to to promote it.

Ronnie was in Sheffield practising last week. I’m not sure if those videos were recorded then but here he is practising with Igor Figueiredo (published yesterday by Igor on youtube)

He also practised with Adam Stefanow … not sure Shaun Murphy is thrilled!

The World Seniors Snooker Tour has announced a new naming rights tour partnership with Global Telecom Giant ROKiT.

Here is the Press Release

Screenshot 2019-02-19 at 18.38.59.png

Press Release 20th February 2019

The World Seniors Snooker Tour has announced a new naming rights tour partnership with Global Telecom Giant ROKiT.

The agreement will see ROKiT become the naming rights partner for the tour backed by snooker’s world governing body the World Professional Billiards and Snooker Association (WPBSA), as well as the title sponsor for the upcoming World Seniors events in Belfast and Sheffield’s Crucible Theatre.

The partnership with ROKiT follows the announcement last week that the company will become the new title sponsor of the Williams Formula 1 team.

Jason Ferguson, WPBSA Chairman said: “I am delighted by the announcement of an agreement that will help us to take the World Seniors Snooker Tour to the next level. I have been hugely impressed by ROKiT’s mobile handsets and am excited by the opportunities that this cooperation presents.”

Jonathan Kendrick, Chairman of ROKiT, said: The last time we got involved in snooker was in 2013 when we sponsored Ronnie O’Sullivan to win the World Championship and it’s great to once again align the ROKiT brand with the legends of this game. With our ROKiT phones we can bring snooker to audiences in new and pioneering ways, including through our glasses- free 3D technology and our Wi-Fi capabilities.”

Io Pro.pngThe new ROKiT phone will be the official mobile phone of the World Seniors Snooker Tour www.rokitphones.com

The first ROKiT World Seniors Snooker event will be the all-new 6-Red World Seniors Championship where snooker greats including Stephen Hendry, Jimmy White and Ken Doherty will battle it out for a

£20,000 winner takes all prize. The event takes place on one action-packed day in Belfast on Sunday 3rd March 2019.

For tickets go to:

http://waterfront.co.uk/what-s-on/all-events/world-

seniors-snooker/

About ROKiT

ROKiT is a telecommunications business that offers consumers state of the art mobile handsets and wireless connectivity at an unbeatable price. ROKiT has been founded by business innovator John-Paul DeJoria (John Paul Mitchell Systems, Patron Tequila, John Paul Pet) and Jonathan Kendrick (British entrepreneur). ROKiT’s core innovation is the brand’s unique combination of device and service offerings brought to market at aggressive, attention-getting price points.

For all press enquires to arrange any interviews or media with our legends please email Jason@snookerlegends.co.uk

Those are the new posters for the World Seniors Six Reds Championship in Belfast and the World Seniors Masters in Sheffield, both sponsored by ROKiT

And there is more !

At all events this season a ROKiT Hospitality area will be created which will in effect be the players lounge, it will serve beverages from the ROK Drinks portfolio including ABK Beers, ROK Natural Energy Drink, Bogarts Gin and Rum and more.

ROKiT Shot

Also, before the final session of the final of the ROKiT sponsored events one member of the audience, via a raffle draw, will get the chance to come down to the table and try and make the ROKiT SHOT, one chance to make a blue off the spot  with white in the D in front of the crowd – if they do it they get £1000 – if they miss they still get a new ROKiT Phone.

Facebook Cover-Photo

It’s great for World Seniors Snooker to get the support of such a prestigious sponsor. Indeed, the ROKiT company also just announced as headline sponsor for Williams F1. Here is photo is their drivers George Russell and Robert Kubica in front of the new F1 car using a ROKiT phone.

ROKiT Williams Racing team livery launch2[2].jpg

ROKiT support for snooker is nothing new. Jonathan Kendrick, chairman of ROKiT, sponsored Ronnie O’ Sullivan with his Oval Vodka brand in 2013 and we all know what happened next!

ROKiT sponsored Ronnie in 2013

And, tomorrow,  both Jimmy White and Reanne Evans will wear ROKiT logos when they clash at the Snooker Shoot Out 2019.

The race to Preston

Ronnie is the defending Champion in the Players Championship 2019, scheduled in Preston from March, 4, 2019 on. He’s currently 5th on the one year list and set to face Barry Hawkins in the first round – last 16 – with the winner of John Higgins v Mark Selby coming next should he win.

However this could still change, as explained in this Worldsnooker article

This week’s BetVictor Shoot Out in Watford (February 21-24) is the last counting event in the race to qualify for the Coral Players Championship. The top 16 on the one-year ranking list will then go through to the Guild Hall in Preston for the second event in the 2019 Coral Series, running from March 4-10.

Who has already made it to the Guild Hall?

The top 15 players on the one-year list are already assured of a place in Preston. They are:

Mark Allen
Judd Trump
Neil Robertson
Mark Selby
Ronnie O’Sullivan
Mark Williams
Kyren Wilson
David Gilbert
Stuart Bingham
Jack Lisowski
Ali Carter
Barry Hawkins
John Higgins
Joe Perry
Jimmy Robertson

That leaves only Stephen Maguire in 16th place unsure whether he will be in the field at the Guild Hall. He has not entered the BetVictor Shoot Out so he must hope results go his way. However there are only four players who can overtake him, and all of them would have to win the £32,000 top prize in Watford to go above Maguire and earn a place in Preston. They are:

Martin O’Donnell
Noppon Saengkham
Xiao Guodong
Zhao Xintong

As it stands there are three players – Ali Carter, Joe Perry and Jimmy Robertson – who are inside the top 16 of the one-year list and outside the top 16 of the official two-year list.

What’s next after Preston?

The third and last event in the Coral Series is the Coral Tour Championship in Llandudno from March 19 to 24, with only the top eight on the list to earn a spot in North Wales, with the cut off point coming after the Gibraltar Open (note that the Indian Open does not count towards Coral Players Championship qualification, though it does count towards the Coral Tour Championship). David Gilbert currently lies eighth with £169,500, just £6,500 ahead of Stuart Bingham in ninth. As it stands Gilbert is the only player inside the top eight of the one-year list and outside the top eight of the two-year list.

Thunder Strikes

Neil Robertson won his second ranking title of the season on Sunday night, beating Bingham 9-7 in the final of the ManBetX Welsh Open. His £70,000 top prize lifted him from tenth to eighth on the two-year list and from sixth to third on the one-year list. Bingham could have gone ahead of Gilbert into the top eight of the one-year list by winning in Cardiff, but instead he stays ninth. There are six counting events to go in the Race to the Crucible and Bingham’s £30,000 is very welcome as he climbs to 15th.

Joe O’Connor got to the semi-finals of a ranking event for the first time in his career and the £20,000 prize moves him up the two-year list from 103rd to  80th. Iran’s Hossein Vafaei was the other losing semi-finalist and he jumps from 37th to 33rd.

Should Martin O’Donnel win the Shoot-out, he would get ahead of Ali Carter, at 11th, pushing him and everyone below one place down. In this case Ronnie would face Ali in the last 16, with the winner of Selby v Hawkins awaiting, should he win.

If Noppon Saengkham wins, he would find himself with exactly the same points as John Higgins. I’m not sure in that case which of them would face Mark Selby in the last 16, but my guess is that it would still be John Higgins.

Welsh Open 2019 – Neil Robertson is your Champion!

Neil Robertson Welsh Open 2019 Champion

Congratulations Neil Robertson!

Neither Neil Robertson, nor Stuart Bingham were at their best, especially during the first session. The second session was really tense and engrossing, despite – or maybe because – both players making errors. The safeties were excellent though.

Here is the report on Worldsnooker:

Neil Robertson overcame Stuart Bingham 9-7 in the final of the ManBetX Welsh Open at the Motorpoint Arena in Cardiff.

Victory for Robertson continues his purple patch against the 2015 World Champion. The Australian came into the match on an 11-frame streak against Bingham, having beaten him 6-0 and 5-0 in their previous two meetings at the 2018 China Open and 2019 German Masters respectively.

The £70,000 winner’s cheque has seen Robertson cross the £4 million barrier in career earnings. The Thunder from Down Under now moves up to eighth in the world rankings from tenth. It is a 15th career ranking title for the 37-year-old, who is now level with Mark Selby on ranking wins.

Bingham claimed this title two years ago by defeating Judd Trump in the 2017 final. However, that means he was defending the prize money won that week on the two-year rolling world rankings. As a result he now drops from 12th to 14th in the world and faces a battle to keep his top 16 spot ahead of the World Championship.

In a fragmented afternoon session, it was 2010 Crucible king Robertson who claimed the advantage coming out with a 5-3 lead. When they emerged for the evening’s action the Australian widened the gap.

Bingham spurned opportunities to take the opening frame, before missing a black off the spot which allowed Robertson to clear with a break of 65 to edge three ahead. He then moved even further in front after punishing a loose safety with a run of 56 to extend his lead to four at 7-3.

The Essex cueman kept himself in it by clinching an important 11th frame to make it 7-4. There was then a dramatic frame before the mid-session. Robertson failed to convert a frame ball brown to the top right pocket and inadvertently developed the blue from a safe position. Bingham cleared and clenched his fist having escaped with his hopes of a fightback still intact.

When they returned Bingham continued to push for parity and took three frames on the bounce to stun Robertson and level at 7-7. The Thunder from Down Under then won a tense 15th frame to move to the verge of victory at 8-7.

Robertson emphatically surged past the winning post in the following frame, depositing a long red and crafting a contribution of 83 to claim his second Welsh Open title, 12 years after his last win in 2007.

“When you hear it is 12 years later it certainly makes you feel old. It is an amazing feeling because Stuart’s safety throughout the whole match was unbelievable.” said Robertson.

“It is incredible to win. It is very satisfying when you blitz a final and play really well. However, it is more rewarding the way I had to fight throughout. I wasn’t at my best. I didn’t do a lot wrong, but I just hung in there. From 7-3 to 7-7 I had to dig really deep.

“I think I am definitely a player who is more than capable of being a multiple World Champion. I just need to play with a lot of positivity and play matches on my terms. That is probably the first match I’ve played in a long time where I have felt it wasn’t on my terms. I need to learn from that straight away and not let it happen again. You look at the World Championship winners in the last few years they have all won it playing their game. I need to develop my style better to make it more threatening for the 17 days of the World Championship.”

A disappointed Bingham rued the fact he didn’t manage to carry his strong form from the rest of the week into the showpiece match.

Bingham admitted: “I’m gutted really, I just didn’t show up today. I have been good all week and to not do it on the final day is disappointing. I had my chances. It isn’t like he blew me away. I tried to keep in it and got myself back to 7-7. All of a sudden I fancied the job.

“If someone had said before the tournament I’d get to the final I would probably have grabbed their hands off. I made 11 centuries this week. Even though I didn’t play great today, I had a fighting chance. That probably shows me where my game is. You can be a fraction out sometimes.”

This result means that Ronnie will probably face Barry Hawkins in the first round of the Players Championship, with Mark Selby or John Higgins next, should he win his first match.

Ronnie was again in the studio all day.

Coverage of the final.

And Ronnie might have suffered a relatively early exit in Cardiff, he still had a great time at the table it seems…

Welsh Open 2019 – Day 6 in Cardiff – SF

After a tournament that produced surprises aplenty, with many top players crashing out in early rounds, we and up with two members of the top 16 competing in the final.

Indeed, yesterday, Stuart Bingham and Neil Robertson emerged the winners of two one-sided semi finals. Here is how we gor there (source Worldsnooker)

Stuart Bingham 6-2 Joe O’Connor

Stuart Bingham is through to the ManBetX Welsh Open final after defeating Joe O’Connor 6-2 in their last four clash at the Motorpoint Arena in Cardiff.

The five-time ranking event winner will now have appeared in three Welsh Open finals. Bingham lifted the Ray Reardon trophy in 2017 when he defeated Judd Trump, and also suffered a narrow loss against Stephen Maguire in the 2013 showpiece clash.

O’Connor’s fairytale run comes to an end. However, the 23-year-old tour rookie from Leicester can head home with memories of giant killing victories against Kyren Wilson, Ding Junhui and John Higgins. O’Connor pockets £20,000 for his run to the last four.

It took both players time to settle this afternoon and the pair traded two scrappy opening frames to make it 1-1. However, from there Bingham burst into life, with century runs of 107 and 100 putting him 3-1 ahead going into the mid-session interval.

Leicester’s O’Connor pulled one back when they returned. 2015 World Champion Bingham then swiftly regained control of proceedings. Further breaks of 104, 125 and 67 saw him surge over the line to book a place in tomorrow’s final.

“I’ve been there done it and got the t-shirt. That was probably the difference in settling down,” said Bingham. “We had a couple of frames when we couldn’t pot a ball and then I went on a four frame spurt when I couldn’t miss.

“I think when they make a mistake and you make a century, your opponent will start to second guess on 50/50 shots. It is like playing Ronnie, you know if you miss you are going to sit in your chair for the rest of the frame.  My game is there and long may it continue.”

O’Connor said: “It is a bit disappointing not playing as well as I have all week. Stuart played well and you can’t say much when he has made four centuries. He is a deserved winner and good luck to him.

“Beating Kyren Wilson, Ding and John Higgins, has sent my confidence through the roof at the moment. As long as I can avoid playing how I did today then I can compete with anyone.”

Neil Robertson 6-0 Hossein Vafaei

Neil Robertson produced a blistering display to brush Iranian Hossein Vafaei aside 6-0 and reach the final of the ManBetX Welsh Open at the Motorpoint Arena in Cardiff.

Australia’s Robertson is through to his third Welsh Open final. He dramatically won the title in 2007, defeating Andrew Higginson 9-8 to claim silverware and lost out in the 2016 final against Ronnie O’Sullivan. The Thunder from Down Under now faces Englishman Stuart Bingham in tomorrow’s showpiece match for £70,000 and the Ray Reardon Trophy. They will do battle over the best of 17 frames, with the first session starting at 1pm.

This week has already been an eventful one for the 14-time ranking event winner. He fired in the fourth 147 break of his career in the opening round against Jordan Brown. Last night, Robertson survived a scare in the quarter-finals, coming from 4-2 down to defeat Kurt Maflin 5-4. This evening’s match was a more one-sided affair.

Vafaei, competing in his second ranking event semi-final, struggled to settle and produce his best snooker. His learning curve at this stage of major competition has been a steep one, having lost out to Mark Williams 6-1 in the last four of the 2017 China Open. Iran’s first ever professional player will have to wait a little while longer to reach his maiden ranking final. However, he does pick up £20,000 for reaching the semi-finals.

There was a clear gulf between the pair’s performances this evening, with 2010 Crucible king Robertson stamping his authority from the off. A fine century run of 103 got Robertson off to the perfect start. Further breaks of 61 and a sublime 140 moved him 4-0 up at the mid-session.

It was a swift kill when they returned, with Robertson needing under half an hour to wrap up the final two required frames and seal a whitewash victory.

Robertson said: “You never really expect to win so comfortably. Hossein had his chances in the first four frames. Every little mistake he made I punished fully. That is what you have to do. You can’t let the crowd get behind the underdog. I just kept applying the pressure.

“I feel at the top of my game. No doubt. I’m hitting the ball great and playing with a smile on my face. The goal is to go out there and entertain the crowd and make them go away thinking about what a great match they have seen.

“Stuart Bingham is more than capable of crushing anyone on his day as well. He is such a heavy scorer. He plays the game very aggressively. We both play attacking snooker and hopefully I can get on top and have a good run and win convincingly. I’m also prepared for it being scrappy and can fight it out if need be as well.”

I didn’t see anything of the first match. Neil Robertson was truly impressive in the second one, but he also got some help from his opponent who never got going. Hossein didn’t play well, he made a lot of mistakes and every time left something for Neil who duly capitalised. During this match Neil had the form and the luck on his side!

It’s hard to predict a winner, but I slightly favour Neil Robertson today.

Ronnie was in the studio all day.

The latter with a lovely interview with Joe O’Connor

Welsh Open 2019 – Day 5 – QFs

Quarter Finals in Cardiff brought even more surprises to a tournament that’s already been full of them!

The biggest one probably being the defeat that Joe O’Connor, a player in his first ever year on the tour, inflicted to John Higgins. Joe had previously beaten Kyren Wilson and Ding Junhui to get to the QF stage, but hadn’t played on the main table yet. No problem!

Here are the reports on Worldsnooker:

Afternoon Session

World number 103 Joe O’Connor produced a giant killing win over defending champion John Higgins, coming through 5-3 in their quarter-final clash at the ManBetX Welsh Open in Cardiff.

The 23-year-old from Leicester is competing in his rookie season on the World Snooker Tour, having earned professional status by winning the EBSA Playoff last year. He also won the prestigious English Amateur Championship last term.

O’Connor hadn’t made it beyond the last 32 of any ranking event coming into this week. However, he has shown his big match metal over the last few days. The youngster has ousted German Masters champion Kyren Wilson, 13-time ranking event winner Ding Junhui and four-time World Champion John Higgins.

Higgins, who has won the Welsh Open a record breaking five times, will leave the Welsh capital disappointed after the shock defeat. However, he can take solace from the fact that he is now mathematically assured of a spot at the upcoming Player’s Championship, reserved for the top 16 players on this season’s money list.

This afternoon it was O’Connor who made a dream start. He composed an assured break of 73 to take the opener, before claiming the second frame to move into a 2-0 lead. Higgins hit back and contributions of 84 and 106 saw him force parity at the mid-session interval.

You would have been forgiven for thinking that the tide had turned. However, O’Connor continued to edge ahead in a match which he never trailed in. They traded frames until the Leicester potter found himself 4-3 ahead. From there O’Connor remarkably produced the highest break of his professional career in his most important frame so far. A contribution of 131 to secure a phenomenal 5-3 victory.

“I’m over the moon. This past week has been a bit of a dream. Beating Kyren Wilson and Ding and now Higgins. I’m speechless and don’t really know what to say,” said O’Connor. “Beating these players isn’t really something I went into the matches thinking I would do. I knew I was capable of doing it, but to do it on the big stage is completely different.

“All of the Leicester players have helped me, but especially Tom Ford. He has taken me under his wing. Tom has been a massive help. We practice together very often and he is the man to go to when I have a question.”

O’Connor’s opponent in the semi-finals will be 2015 Crucible king Stuart Bingham. The five-time ranking event winner was impressive during a 5-2 defeat of young Chinese star Zhao Xintong this afternoon.

Bingham, who won this event in 2017 by defeating Judd Trump in a classic final, looked to be in red hot form this afternoon. He fired in breaks of 134, 99, 59 and 67 on his way to a 4-2 advantage.

There was then a dramatic seventh frame, which came down to the colours. Eventually Bingham deposited a superb long range brown which allowed him to clear up and seal the frame and match.

Evening Session

Australia’s Neil Robertson battled back from 4-2 down to defeat Norwegian Kurt Maflin 5-4 and reach the semi-finals of the ManBetX Welsh Open in Cardiff.

Robertson, who lifted the title at the 2007 Welsh Open, has had an eventful week in Cardiff having already made a 147 in his opening round encounter with Jordan Brown. Following victory this evening, the 2010 World Champion remains in the hunt for a 15th career ranking title.

It was a gut-wrenching loss for Maflin, who had already enjoyed success at the Motorpoint Arena prior to this week. The world number 49 also appeared in the quarter-finals at the Cardiff venue back in 2017. He will pocket £10,000 for his run to the last eight this time around.

Maflin charged out of the blocks this evening with breaks of 63, 104 and 74 to move into a 3-0 advantage. Robertson kept himself in touch before the interval with contribution of 91 to make it 3-1.

When the pair returned, 37-year-old Robertson claimed a tight fifth frame to draw within one, before Maflin responded in turn to regain his two-frame advantage at 4-2. Breaks of 69 and a stunning 136 saw the Australian force a decider, where high drama ensued.

With a 10-0 advantage, Maflin inadvertently clipped the black into the bottom right pocket after potting a long range red, in a piece of unforeseeable poor fortune. Robertson ruthlessly pounced on that piece of bad luck to compile a break of 67, which sealed frame and match.

Robertson said: “I thought overall it was a terrific match. Both of us scored really heavily and I am gutted for Kurt at the end there. What a way to lose. He potted a really good long red and I don’t know how he knocked the black in.

“It was about concentration and being brutal in the moment, because when I came to the table I was thinking what a way for him to lose if I win the frame from here. On a personal level I love the guy. We spend Christmas together in Norway. I just had to tell my head to shut up and pot the balls.”

Iran’s Hossein Vafaei will face Robertson in the last four after demolishing Scotland’s Scott Donaldson 5-1.

It will be Vafaei’s second appearance in a ranking event semi-final, following his trip to the last four at the 2017 China Open where he defeated Judd Trump in the quarters. This evening Vafaei clinically took advantage of his opportunities.

After losing the first frame, he won five on the bounce with breaks 92, 76, 75, 62 and 54. Robertson and Vafaei will do battle tomorrow evening at 7pm, with Stuart Bingham and Joe O’Connor contesting the other semi-final at 1pm.

Kurt Maflin was really unlucky to pocket the black when leading by 10-0 in the decider; here is the shot:

Coverage

Ronnie was in the studio all day. He was full of praise for Joe O’Connor after his win over John Higgins, comparing him to Graeme Dott. Not sure if Joe will like the comparison but it was a genuine compliment. People only too easily forget how good a player Graeme Dott was. You don’t “fluke” three World Championship finals, including one victorious one.

Ronnie had also called correctly the outcome of the Neil Robertson v Kurt Maflin match. About Kurt – who was leading 3-1 at that moment – he said that he’s one of those players who can outplay you and still lose. Sadly that’s very true about Kurt, who, BTW,  he likes as a person. About Neil Robertson he stressed how dedicated and professional he is in all aspects of the sport and his career.

Welsh Open 2019 – Day 4 in Cardiff

Day 4 is also very busy in the Home Nations as 32 become just eight, and yesterday was no exception. Another host of top players went out: Ronnie, Mark Allen and Barry Hawkins in the last 32, then Mark Selby, Jack Lisowski  and Ding Junhui in the last 16. This leaves us with an eclectic line-up featuring only three of the last 16: Neil Robertson, Stuart Bingham and John Higgins, the defending champion. The latter isn’t playing particularly well but is still winning. Yesterday evening, Jack Lisowski really left him off the hook. Ding Junhui’s defeat means that he won’t be at the Players Championship, nor at the Tour Championship this year.

You can read all about Ronnie’s defeat at the hands of Alexander Ursenbacher here.

Alexander then went on to lose to Xao Xintong who seems to be in great form and scoring heavily. Xao who dropped off the tour at the end of last season, immediately requalified and has already won more money and points this season than any other Chinese player.

The man who stole the show though was Noppon Saengkham, who made a 147 and …

this shot

and the 147

Ronnie was back in the studio.

Here is some coverage:

And the reports on Worldsnooker

Last 32 round

Switzerland’s Alexander Ursenbacher scored the best win of his career so far as he beat Ronnie O’Sullivan 4-2 in the third round of the ManBetX Welsh Open.

So far this season, world number 71 Ursenbacher had not been beyond the last 64 of a ranking event, until this week as he is now into the last 16 in Cardiff to face China’s Zhao Xintong on Thursday evening.

Ursenbacher got to the semi-finals of the English Open last season but the 22-year-old subsequently struggled to replicate the same form – until today when he outplayed four-time Welsh Open champion O’Sullivan.

World number three O’Sullivan took the opening frame with a break of 118, his 994th career century, but he lost three of the next four frames as his Swiss opponent got on a roll with runs of 70, 52 and 57. In frame six, O’Sullivan had a chance to clear from 42-0 down to make it 3-3, but he missed the yellow off the last red on 35.

Ursenbacher was left with a tricky thin cut on the yellow to a baulk corner, playing the the rest, but executed it perfectly and cleared to the pink for victory.

“I didn’t expect to beat him, though I knew it was possible if I took my chances. I’m feeling good!” said Ursenbacher. “It’s my biggest win. If you play well then the wins come automatically. I’m full of confidence now but I won’t go any further if I don’t concentrate on each ball.”

Asked about the crucial pot on the yellow in the last frame, he added: “I wasn’t even sure if it went. I just knew if I hit it really thin with loads of side and didn’t hit the brown, it might go in. And I knew if I potted it I would win the match. Ronnie asked me at the end if the yellow went because he didn’t think it did, and I said ‘I don’t know!’ I just went for it.”

O’Sullivan said: “The better man won on the day. He potted some great balls and played with freedom and abandonment which is a fantastic way to approach any game. I’ve got nothing but praise for him, he’s great to watch. I had fun out there and gave it my best shot.”

Following the exits of Judd Trump, Mark Williams, Kyren Wilson and now O’Sullivan, there were further surprise results as Shoot Out champion Michael Georgiou scored a 4-2 win over Barry Hawkins while Ian Burns top scored with 103 in a 4-2 win over Mark Allen.

Burns said: “Mark is one of the best players in the world and his form has been unbelievable. He wasn’t at his best today but I played some good stuff myself.”

World number one Mark Selby beat Noppon Saengkham 4-1 in a high quality match. Selby compiled breaks of 107 and 115 while Thailand’s Saengkham made his first 147 in the second frame.

Jack Lisowski knocked in breaks of 127, 101, 82, 63 and 54 as he edged out Sam Craigie 4-3. Ding Junhui came from 2-0 down to beat Joe Perry 4-2 with a top break of 98. Neil Robertson recovered a 3-1 deficit to beat Paul Davison 4-3.

Last 16 round

Defending champion John Higgins made a trademark clearance in the deciding frame to beat Jack Lisowski 4-3 and reach the quarter-finals of the ManBetX Welsh Open.

Higgins is through to the last eight of a ranking event for only the second time this season and first since September’s China Championship.

The 43-year-old will take confidence from the way he finished off the match tonight in Cardiff, as he kept his pursuit of a sixth Welsh Open title alive.

It was high quality snooker with three centuries within the first four frames, Higgins making a 103 while Lisowski knocked in 134 and 115 to leave the score at 2-2. Scotland’s Higgins got the better of frame five, then Gloucestershire’s Lisowski levelled at 3-3.

Lisowski had two clear chances in the decider, but missed the green to a baulk corner on 26, then a tricky red to a centre pocket on 14. From 40-1 down, Higgins cleared the table superbly with 71.

Higgins will now face tour rookie Joe O’Connor, who scored the best result of his career so far with a 4-1 win over Ding Junhui. Leicester’s 23-year-old O’Connor scored a top break of 93.

“I played well, I took my chances,” said O’Connor, who also knocked out Kyren Wilson yesterday. “This has been my best tournament so far and I just want to enjoy it from now. It means the world because my dad and a few friends are here and it’s nice to see them proud.”

Stuart Bingham, who won this title two years ago, finished off a 4-2 win over Robbie Williams in sensational style. From 2-1 down, Bingham took the last three frames with breaks of 128, 103 and 124.

Neil Robertson took just 53 minutes to beat Michael Georgiou 4-0, knocking in runs of 79, 75 and 62. “When you play a second match in a day you never know who is going to recover the best,” said Australia’s Robertson.

“We had a laugh afterwards because Michael told me how knackered he was after the first couple of frames. Everyone today is just desperate to get to the quarter-finals, this is the trickiest day of the tournament. I’m really looking forward to tomorrow now.”

Alexander Ursenbacher knocked out Ronnie O’Sullivan earlier in the day but couldn’t keep his run going as he lost 4-2 to gifted Chinese potter Zhao Xintong, who fired runs of 104, 73, 56 and 86.

Scott Donaldson reached the semi-finals in Cardiff in 2017 and he needs just one more win to match that run. In the last 16 he saw off Ian Burns 4-2 with a top break of 110. Norway’s Kurt Maflin was another 4-2 winner, beating Elliot Slessor with a top run of 78.

At this stage, I admit that I’d like to see an “outsider” win the title. Joe O’Connor who is in his first year on the tour really impressed me since December, and Xao Xintong proving he’s not a flash in the pan would be great as well. Unlikely, but the way this comp is going you never know…