Mark Selby is the 2019 English Open Champion

It was a master class from Mark Selby in a 9-1 demolition of David Gilbert yesterday in Crawley. This is the best we have seen from Selby in a very long time.

Congratulations Mark Selby!

Here are the reports by Worldsnooker and WPBSA

First session (Worldsnooker)

Mark Selby is just two frames away from winning the 19.com English Open as he leads David Gilbert 7-1 after the first session of the final.

Selby has controlled the best-of-17 final so far in Crawley and looks to be closing in on his first Home Nations title. The match resumes at 7pm with first to nine frames to take the £70,000 top prize and the Steve Davis Trophy.

Leicester’s 36-year-old Selby is aiming to win his 16th ranking title and first since the 2018 China Championship. His hasn’t won a title on UK soil since landing his third World Championship crown in 2017.

The world number five has a formidable record in ranking finals in recent years, having won 12 of his last 13.

That stat will give little encouragement to Gilbert, especially as he needs eight of the last nine frames tonight to win his first ranking title.

He has lost his three previous finals – against John Higgins at the 2015 International Championship, Mark Williams at the 2018 Yushan World Open and Kyren Wilson at the 2019 German Masters.

The 38-year-old from Tamworth is sure to pass the £1 million mark for career earnings today but that will be little consolation if he can’t launch a fight back in the concluding session.

World number 12 Gilbert scored just 14 points in the first four frames as Selby rattled in breaks of 88, 68, 79 and 85. Frame five came down to a safety battle on the last red, Selby trapping his opponent in a snooker and clearing up from the chance that followed to go 5-0 ahead.

Gilbert got off the mark in the next in some style with a break of 101. But Selby responded with 130 and 97 to take the last two frames of the session.

Second session (Worldsnooker)

Mark Selby won his 16th ranking title with an emphatic 9-1 victory over David Gilbert in the final of the 19.com English Open in Crawley.

Gilbert described his opponent’s performance as a “masterclass” as Selby missed just seven balls in the whole match.

Leicester’s 36-year-old Selby extended his superb recent record in ranking finals as he has now won 13 of his last 14, since the 2014 World Championship.

It’s his first Home Nations title since the series was launched in 2016, and he will head to next month’s 19.com Northern Ireland Open in Belfast as the only man who can win the unique £1 million bonus on offer for capturing all four trophies in the series.

The £70,000 top prize moves him one place up the world rankings to fourth. His total of 16 ranking titles brings him level with Neil Robertson, behind Ronnie O’Sullivan (36), Stephen Hendry (36), John Higgins (30), Steve Davis (28) and Mark Williams (22).

Having monopolised the world number one position for 49 months, losing the top dog status was a blow to Selby in March this year. But he has bounced back strongly this season, reaching two semi-finals before this week’s triumph. His performance in today’s final was a reminder of his ability to control matches with superb break-building and near-flawless safety.

Gilbert has now lost all four of his ranking finals, albeit each of them against top class opponents; he was runner-up to John Higgins at the 2015 International Championship, to Mark Williams at the 2018 Yushan World Open, and to Kyren Wilson at the 2019 German Masters.

The £30,000 pay-day takes his career total earnings past the £1 million mark and moves him up one place to 11th in the world. But that will be no more than small consolation to the 38-year-old from Tamworth as he is left waiting for his first taste of silverware.

Selby dominated the first session, taking a 7-1 lead with top breaks of 88, 68, 79, 85, 130 and 97.  Gilbert had two chances in the opener tonight but couldn’t make the frame secure. Selby fluked a snooker on the last red, and from the chance that followed, cleared the table for 8-1.

And a few minutes later the contest was over as Selby’s break of 101 sealed the title.

“It’s amazing, I’m quite emotional,” admitted Selby. “Over the last 12 months, mentally it has been tough.  I have been second guessing myself, questioning myself and wondering if I would win another tournament again. It was that bad. I was playing well in practice then in matches I have been crumbling and not showing anything, it was frustrating. To win a trophy is great in terms of getting the confidence back.

“I play David a lot in practice and that’s the kind of tempo I play at. I knew today that if I was second guessing myself and taking too long over shots, David would have been thinking I was nervous. So I just tried to play the way I do in practice, which is not easy on the televised table under pressure but I managed to do it.

“I’m gutted for David because he’s a great player and an even better lad off the table. If I wasn’t in the final I probably would have been here supporting him. He keeps knocking on the door, it’s only a matter of time before he turns one of the finals into a win and when he does that I think he’ll win a lot more.

“When I first started playing snooker, if you had said I’d win three world titles and 16 ranking events I would have laughed at you. It’s incredible. If I can win 20 ranking titles before I retire I’ll be over the moon.

“It’s great to win a tournament with my daughter (four-year-old Sofia) here because it’s the first time she has seen me win a final when she understands what’s going on.”

Gilbert said: “Mark was brilliant, I don’t think there were many players in the world that would have given him a game today. It shows the level you have to play at to win one of these things. He didn’t give me anything easy, his safety just killed me. It was a masterclass.

“I’m still miles away from being one of the better players in the world – I am decent but they are on a different planet and that showed today. I’ve had a great week, it’s brilliant to get to another final and I can take away positives. I’ve got to improve and get better if I want to win one a tournament.

“He does that to my all the time in practice. I have lost that many fivers to him, I can’t tell you. I really enjoy playing him, he’s a legend of the game.”

WPBSA report with links to the important ranking information

Selby Thrashes Gilbert In English Final

20th October 2019

Mark Selby won his 16th ranking title with an emphatic 9-1 victory over David Gilbert in the final of the 19.com English Open in Crawley.

Gilbert described his opponent’s performance as a “masterclass” as Selby missed just seven balls in the whole match.

Leicester’s Selby extended his superb recent record in ranking finals as he has now won 13 of his last 14, since the 2014 World Championship.

It’s his first Home Nations title since the series was launched in 2016, and he will head to next month’s 19.com Northern Ireland Open in Belfast as the only man who can win the unique £1 million bonus on offer for capturing all four trophies in the series.

The £70,000 top prize moves him one place up the world rankings to fourth. His total of 16 ranking titles brings him level with Neil Robertson, behind Ronnie O’Sullivan (36), Stephen Hendry (36), John Higgins (30), Steve Davis (28) and Mark Williams (22).

It’s his first ranking title since the 2018 China Championship, some 13 months ago, and first on UK soil since he landed his third World Championship crown in 2017.

Having monopolised the world number one position for 49 months, losing the top dog status was a blow to Selby in March this year. But he has bounced back strongly this season, reaching two semi-finals before this week’s triumph. His performance in today’s final was a reminder of his ability to control matches with superb break-building and near-flawless safety.

Gilbert has now lost all four of his ranking finals, albeit each of them against top class opponents; he was runner-up to John Higgins at the 2015 International Championship, to Mark Williams at the 2018 Yushan World Open, and to Kyren Wilson at the 2019 German Masters.

The £30,000 pay-day takes his career total earnings past the £1 million mark and moves him up one place to 11th in the world. But that will be no more than small consolation to the 38-year-old from Tamworth as he is left waiting for his first taste of silverware.

Selby dominated the first session, taking a 7-1 lead with top breaks of 88, 68, 79, 85, 130 and 97.  Gilbert had two chances in the opener tonight but couldn’t make the frame secure. Selby fluked a snooker on the last red, and from the chance that followed, cleared the table for 8-1.

And a few minutes later the contest was over as Selby’s break of 101 sealed the title.

Mark Selby played at a very, very high standard yesterday and any snooker fan will have appreciated the fantastic skills on display. The match however had little tension as David Gilbert didn’t have the good start he needed to make it a real contest.

The most interesting part of the evening was in fact Mark’s interview with the pundits after the match. It once again illustrates that being hugely successful doesn’t necessaruly make you confident, a fact that seems to escape many fans. Mark mentioned that he had to force himself to play at a good pace, not to slow down, because he knows that a slow pace isn’t helping his game. It’s another aspect that many fans don’t get. I have been guilty of that: for years I thought that Mark’s slow play was a tactic to disrupt the opponent rhythm and I hated it. I thought that he had far too much talent to need to resort to such tactics, and of course he has talent in spades. The first doubts in my mind came after a conversation I had with Mark at the German Masters a few years back. In my mind he should have been full of confidence, and he clearly genuinely wasn’t.

David Gilbert was all smiles after the match, in stark contrast with the reactions we have seen from someone like Kyren Wilson for instance. Maybe this is what Davis is lacking: the ultimate winner mentality. Such mentality is a strong drive to success. It has to be said however that it can be destructive too: you only need to read Ronnie’s or Stephen Hendry’s bios to understand it.

The 2019 English Open – Day 6 – SF

Today’s final will be competed between Mark Selby and David Gilbert.

Here are the reports by Worldsnooker about how we got there:

Afternoon session:

Mark Selby came from 5-3 down to beat Mark Allen 6-5 in a five-hour battle to reach the final of the 19.com English Open in Crawley.

In an exciting finish, Allen missed opportunities to win as Selby took the last three frames to reach the final of a Home Nations event for the first time since the series was launched in 2016.

He will meet David Gilbert or Tom Ford over 17 frames for the £70,000 first prize on Sunday. The champion will go to next month’s 19.com Northern Ireland Open in Belfast a quarter of the way to landing the £1 million bonus on offer for winning all four events in the series.

Selby will be playing in his 25th ranking final and aiming for his 16th title, which would bring him level with Neil Robertson. He is aiming to win his first title since the 2018 China Championship and first on UK soil since he landed his captured his third World Championship crown in 2017.

Breaks of 82 and 93 helped Leicester’s Selby take a 3-1 lead, then Allen hit back after the interval, winning frame five and making a 96 for 3-3. Frame seven lasted  67 minutes and came down to a battle on the colours, Allen winning it to go ahead. The eighth was also scrappy and once again Antrim’s Allen came out on top to go 5-3 up.

In the ninth, Allen was on 62 and just two pots away from victory when his attempt to double a red to a centre pocket narrowly missed. It came down to the pink and black, Selby getting the better of a safety battle and potting both balls to keep his hopes alive. And he added frame ten with a run of 57.

World number five Selby had first chance in the decider, making  29 before missing a tricky blue. Allen replied with 24 then failed to convert a tough long red to a baulk corner. That proved his last shot as Selby added 64. Remarkably, the pair have met seven times in best-of-11 matches and all seven have finished 6-5.

“I had to dig in and show my resolve from 5-3,” said 36-year-old Selby. “Before that Mark was playing well, he looked confident and he was putting me in a lot of trouble. We always have close games and it was good to come out the winner this time. The double he went for at 5-3, I thought it was in from where I was sitting. I was lucky.

“Last season my safety was letting me down so it’s nice to get that side of my game back. I get on really well with both David Gilbert and Tom Ford so it will be great to play either of them in the final.”

I’m not sure why this report doesn’t mention that Mark Allen himself had come from 3-1 down to lead 5-3, at a time leaving his opponent potless for well over 40 minutes.

It was a bizarre mùatch TBH. One wouldn’t really guess looking at the scores but for very periods of play there was no fluency whatsoever. Both players gave their opponent a lot of penalty points, Mark Selby in particular was guilty of that.  It was a comedy of errors at times. Mark Allen should have killed the match and win 6-3. He failed to do so, and, when playing Mark Selby it’s often fatal and it proved to be.

Evening session:

David Gilbert moved within one win of his first ranking title by beating Tom Ford 6-3 in the semi-finals of the 19.com English Open.

Tamworth’s Gilbert will face Mark Selby over 17 frames on Sunday, with the winner to lift the Steve Davis Trophy and bank £70,000.

It will be Gilbert’s fourth ranking final and his first on UK soil. He has lost two finals in China, against John Higgins and Mark Williams, as well as one in Germany against Kyren Wilson. Once again this time he’ll be up against a formidable opponent, but having played to a high level throughout the week in Crawley, world number 12 Gilbert will be confident that this could be his turn to go home with the silverware.

Ford took the opening frame tonight with a break of 53 then Gilbert levelled with an 80. The next two frames came down to the colours, and Gilbert took both to lead 3-1.

Leicester’s Ford hit back after the interval with 102 and 74 to level at 3-3. But 38-year-old Gilbert regained the initiative with a superb 134 total clearance in frame seven, then runs of 65 and 52 put him 5-3 ahead.

Ford had two scoring chances early in the ninth but could only muster 12 points, and when he missed a red to a top corner, Gilbert stepped in with a run of 34 which took him close to the winning post. Ford battled for snookers but Gilbert potted green and brown to secure the result.

“I felt tired tonight, I haven’t had much sleep this week and it caught up with me tonight,” said Gilbert. “My body was a bit heavy, my arms didn’t quite feel the same and I wasn’t timing shots well. But that happens sometimes, I didn’t worry about it.

“At 3-3 Tom was looking stronger, I knew I had to step up and find my rhythm again, and I made a good break to go 4-3.

“I’m glad to be playing Mark in the final because he’s a good friend. He has helped me a lot over the last few years by letting me practise with him. I have learned a lot from him and I’m looking forward to sharing the dancefloor with him. He is a legend and I’m just trying to make my way through.”

The final starts at 1pm.

This was a much more fluent match than the afternoon one. Tom Ford looked very dangerous at the start, but appreared to lose confidence in frame two after making a couple of errors. He’s much better under pressure than he used to be but still looked vulnerable to it in yesterday’s semli-final.

Mark Selby has to be favourite to win today. He has the pedigree and the experience. But if David Gilbert can set himself in the mindset of just enjoying the occasion and doesn’t put too much pressure on himself, he certainly has his chance. I would be delighted for him.

Neither finalist has yet qualified for the 2019 Champion of  Champions, so Jimmy White will have to wait and hope that there is a repeat winner in Yushan.

Finally Ronnie again caused outrage on social media with this:

Now, seriously folks, this was just a bit of impish banter. Of course he doesn’t mean that they shouldn’t cound officially. He explains it himself: in his own mind, a 147 should be the “perfect break” and therefore not involve any recovery shots (nor  flukes I guess). He’s been very critical of his own 5’20” (actually now revised to 5’08”) 1997 break: more than once, he said that it was a “bad break”, because he was “out of position so many times”. That’s the OCD perfectionist mixed with the mischievious kid inside expressing themselves ot there 😉

Ronnie has been out of order a few times this week: he certainly was when he kicked the rest.  The way he expressef himself about playing lower ranked players after round one wasn’t very considerate although Mark Selby, speaking after beating Mei Xiwen also spoke about why playing an unknown quantity can be difficult. And he clearly hates the venue and has made no mystery of it. But frankly the above isn’t “serious” …

 

The 2019 English Open – Day 5 – QF

I saw very little from yesterday’s action as I traveled for most of the day. So here are the reports by Worldsnooker:

Afternoon session

Mark Selby came from 3-0 down to beat Mei Xiwen 5-3 and reach his third consecutive ranking event semi-final at the 19.com English Open.

David Gilbert also booked his spot in the last four at K2 Crawley with a 5-4 victory over Ricky Walden.

Selby hasn’t won a tournament since the 2018 China Championship, and hasn’t lifted a trophy on UK soil since the 2017 World Championship. But the three-time Crucible king looks to be returning to form, and having lost in the semi-finals of two ranking events already this season, he’ll be looking to go further this time. He faces Mark Allen or Lee Walker on Saturday.

China’s Mei was playing in his first ranking event quarter-final today and he looked comfortable in the early stages, firing breaks of 108, 48 and 56 to take the first three frames.

Selby’s top break at that stage was just 1, but he dominated the fourth frame to get a foothold, then stepped up a gear after the interval, winning four frames in a row with top runs of 69, 70 and 132.

“I started off poorly but I’m happy with how I turned the game around,” said world number five Selby after reaching his 44th ranking event semi-final. “The fourth frame was a big turning point. Once I won that I felt settled and I played better after the interval. From 3-1, that was about as good as I’ve played this week. I scored well and it was the most comfortable I’ve felt.

“It was important I finished it off, because even though I’d gone from 3-0 down to 4-3 up, if he nicks the next one suddenly it’s down to a decider. Thankfully it didn’t get to that stage. Over the years longer games have favoured me, but semi-finals are always tough and I’m going to have my work cut out to win.”

Gilbert boosted his hopes of winning a first ranking title by coming through a high quality battle against Walden.

Breaks of 85 and 63 put Tamworth’s Gilbert 2-0 up, then Walden reeled off three in a row with 91, 125 and 46. Gilbert hit back with 69 for 3-3, then the next two were shared to leave the match in the balance.

Walden had first chance in the decider, but after potting the first red he went for a tough pink to a centre pocket and missed his target. Gilbert punished him with a superb 75.

“I don’t blame Ricky for going for that pink, he had played positively all through the match,” said Gilbert, who was runner-up at the Yushan World Open and German Masters last season. “Luckily for me he missed it and I made a good break.

“People go on about me losing in two finals and the semis of the World Championship last season, but I’d take that kind of season for the next ten years. Of course I want to win events, but I’m not Ronnie O’Sullivan – I’m realistic. I’ll keep turning up with my cue with the right attitude and try to improve.”

Regarding what happened in the Selby v Mei match, I believe that the facts that 1. there was an interval and 2. Selby won the last frame before it, were key to what happened next. Mei is not used to play on the television table, with just one table focusing all the audience attention. He had never reached the QF stage before. He probably started the match as the underdog, even in his own mind, not having too many expectations but determined to give it all. And then … he runs 3-0 up against a 3 times World Champion, but loses the last frame before the MSI. He must have had plenty to think about during those 15/20 minutes. Maybe – only maybe – we could have had a different outcome if he hadn’t got time to dwell on what just happened in the first four frames.

Other than that, I’m glad to see Ricky Walden playing well again. He’s a cracking player when on form and it’s a shame that back injuries ruined his career for many years.

Evening session

Mark Allen eased to a 5-1 win over Lee Walker at the 19.com English Open to earn a semi-final against Mark Selby.

Neither Allen nor Selby have won a tournament so far in 2019 so both will be determined to come out on top when they clash at 1pm on Saturday in Crawley, with the winner to go through to Sunday’s final. Northern Ireland’s Allen won three titles in 2018, including the Masters, but hasn’t found the same level of form since.

He won the first four frames tonight with top breaks of 54, 51 and 80. Walker took the fifth on the colours but his hopes of a fight-back were dashed when he under-cut a black to a top corner at 17-32 in frame six. Allen’s run of 40 sealed the result.

World number seven Allen admitted his biggest challenge tonight was staying patient, as he is the eighth fastest player on the pro tour while Walker is the second slowest.

“Lee is good at dictating the place of play,” said Allen. “I always felt as if I was one miss away from a very long scrappy frame. For a while in the second frame it became a war of attrition. It challenges you mentally, but I didn’t let it get to me. It wasn’t free flowing in the way I like it to be, but I knew I just had to wait for my chances.

“I’m looking forward to playing Mark tomorrow. He’s one of the top century makers of all time and he knows how to win any type of frame. He has a point to prove because recently he hasn’t been winning titles like he usually does.”

Tom Ford reached his fourth ranking event semi-final with a 5-0 thrashing of Tian Pengfei. Leicester’s Ford made a 147 in beating Shaun Murphy on Thursday, and though he didn’t reach the same heights tonight, he had more than enough firepower to dismiss the challenge of China’s Tian.

Breaks of 62, 52 and 128 helped world number 25 Ford set up a match with David Gilbert on Saturday evening.

“It took me a couple of frames to get into the match tonight,” admitted 36-year-old Ford. “Luckily for me, Tian struggled as well. It was hard to find a rhythm. Tomorrow it’s down to one table and I’ll need to settle down quickly. David has played in the semis at the Crucible so he knows what it’s like.

“I feel good in myself, and I feel good mentally. It’s not as if I don’t know how to win tournaments because I won two Players Tour Championship events a few years ago.

“I grew up with David, we played each other a lot at junior level, so we know each others games.”

The last frame of the Allen v Walker match is the only action I saw yesterday. Mark Allen at a point was shown as having 84% pot success, Lee Walker had something like 77/78%. That’s indeed all the indications of a scrappy match. I also caugth some of the ES pundits discussion during the MSI, with Ronnie insisting that Mark hadn’t played at his best level by any means. Clearly this is not the Pistol type of game, and Mark Selby today might well inflict him some more of the same. Before anyone jumps at me for being a “Ronnie fan girl, Selby hater, thinking he’s slow and boring” … that NOT what I mean. What I mean is that Mark Selby is a player who can be fluent when he wants to, but can turn into “the torturer” when he needs to. He’s an intelligent player, who is able, and willing, to adapt his game depending on his opponent style and how the match unfolds. If he feels that he needs to disrupt his opponent fluency to win, that’s what he will do. It will be an interesting match.

I make David Gilbert favourite in the other match. Tom Ford hasn’t a great record on the television table, especially in the latter stages of major tournaments. That said, Tom revealed that he’s been working with a sport psychologist this season, and, judging by his results so far, it really does help him. So this match too will be interesting. Tom at his best is a very dangerous player, the question is whether he will be able to bring his best game out under added pressure today.

The 2019 English Open – Day 4

Day 4 in the Home Nations is often eventful and yesterday in Crawley was no exception.

Two rounds were played to a completion: the last 32 and the last 16.

The last 32 saw the World Champion, Judd Trump, departing after being beaten by Lee Walker as well as Neil Robertson’s exiting, having suffered a whitewash at the hands of Zhao Xintong.

Here is the report by Worldsnooker:

World number one Judd Trump suffered a shock 4-2 defeat against Lee Walker in the last 32 stage of the 19.com English Open in Crawley.

Trump has won five titles within the past year, including the World Championship, but this time he couldn’t get the better of a player ranked 80 places below him.

Breaks of 74 and 67 put Welshman Walker 2-0 ahead, then Trump recovered with 135 and 101 for 2-2. But it was Walker who finished the stronger player as a run of 59 helped give him frame five, and a 65 in the next put him in control. Trump got the three snookers he needed on the colours, but his opponent converted a superb long pot on the brown to seal the result.

Walker almost didn’t make it to the last 32 as he was 3-0 down to Robbie Williams last night, but hit back to win 4-3. He now meets Gary Wilson.

“Mark Williams had the car started last night, he was ready to give me a lift home!” said 43-year-old Walker, a Crucible quarter-finalist back in 1997. “The way I played to win last night gave me a lot of confidence today. To beat the world number one and World Champion on a TV table is very pleasing. I really enjoyed it.

“I’m trying to play a bit quicker, you can see that in some of the breaks I am knocking in. I’ll give it my all tonight.”

Neil Robertson is also heading out of Crawley after a 4-0 reverse against world number 52 Zhao Xintong, who made breaks of 68 and 71. The 22-year-old is one of five Chinese players in the line up for the last 16, which will be played on Thursday evening.

Ronnie O’Sullivan is yet to find top form this week but he booked his fourth round spot with a 4-1 defeat of Hossein Vafaei. Iran’s Vafaei took the opening frame on a respotted black but O’Sullivan won the next four with top breaks of 55, 52, 60 and 56.

China Championship winner Shaun Murphy kept up his hopes of winning back-to-back ranking titles as he beat Fan Zhengyi 4-0 with a top break of 69.

Mark Selby top scored with 77 in a 4-2 win over Michael Holt while Mark Allen made a 72 in a 4-1 defeat of Louis Heathcote.

China’s 17-year-old Si Jiahui continued his superb run with a 4-0 win over Zhou Yuelong, making breaks of 92 and 78.

Ricky Walden came from 3-1 down to beat Michael Holt 4-3, making a 63 clearance in the deciding frame.

Xiao Guodong edged out Jack Lisowski 4-3 while Tom Ford made a 124 in a 4-3 win over Kyren Wilson.

There were also wins for David Gilbert, Thepchaiya Un-Nooh, Barry Hawkins, Gary Wilson, Tian Pengfei and Mei Xiwen.

Last 16 line up, from 7pm Thursday

Si Jiahui v Tian Pengfei
Tom Ford v Shaun Murphy
Zhao Xintong v David Gilbert
Thepchaiya Un-Nooh v Ricky Walden
Ronnie O’Sullivan v Mei Xiwen
Xiao Guodong v Mark Selby
Mark Allen v Barry Hawkins
Gary Wilson v Lee Walker

From what I saw of the Robertson v Zhao match, it wasn’t a case of Zhao being outstanding: Robertson made more mistakes than he usually does. Somehow there were similarities with the Ronnie v Hossein Vafaei match in that ALL FOUR players seemed to struggle for correct position. Maybe the cloth started to be a bit worn out, I’m not sure.

The last 16 in the evening saw both Ronnie and Shaun Murphy leave the tournament. No more “poster boys” in the competition now!

Here is the report by Worldsnooker:

Tom Ford made a brilliant 147 in the final frame of his 4-3 win over Shaun Murphy in the last 16 of the 19.com English Open in Crawley.

 

He becomes only the second player to make a maximum in the deciding frame of a ranking event match, after Ronnie O’Sullivan who did so at the 2007 UK Championship.

It’s the fifth 147 of Ford’s career – only O’Sullivan (15), Stephen Hendry (11), John Higgins (nine) and Ding Junhui (six) have made more.

Leicester’s 36-year-old Ford is the only player to make a maximum so far this season and in fact he has made two  – the first coming in the International Championship qualifiers. Tonight’s was the 153rd in snooker history.

He’ll win the £5,000 high break prize as long as his feat is not equalled this week.

Earlier in the match, Ford had leads of 2-0 and 3-2, then Murphy recovered to 3-3. But it was world number 25 Ford who finished in style, potting 15 reds with blacks then clearing the colours. He ran out of position on the green but converted a double to a centre pocket to keep the break going.

“Early in the break I was thinking of going up for the blue because I didn’t want the 147 on my mind, the result was more important,” said Ford, who now meets Tian Pengfei in the quarter-finals. “But I kept landing on the black. Once I got to 80 I knew the match was over and I could go for the maximum. I wanted to do it for the crowd because it’s great for them to see one. I only need to make 18 more to win the £1 million bonus!”

On a day of surprise results, O’Sullivan suffered a 4-3 defeat against China’s Mei Xiwen. That brought to an end O’Sullivan’s perfect record so far this season – he won last month’s Shanghai Masters and his first three matches this week, before falling to world number 70 Mei, who is into the quarter-finals of a ranking event for the first time.

After sharing the first four frames, O’Sullivan appeared to gain the momentum with a run of 134 to lead 3-2. Mei got the better of frame six then had first chance in the decider and made 52 before missing a red to a centre pocket . O’Sullivan had a chance to counter but only made 16 before failing to pot a difficult red along a side cushion, and that proved his last shot as Mei added 71.

Mark Allen’s break building class showed in a 4-0 thrashing of Barry Hawkins as he knocked in 60, 89, 100 and 129.

Three-time World Champion Mark Selby eased to a 4-1 win over Xiao Guodong, making breaks of 72, 60 and 50.

Lee Walker, who shocked Judd Trump earlier in the day, kept his run going with a 4-3 win over Gary Wilson, highlighted by breaks of 78, 69, 93 and a crucial 51 in the decider.

David Gilbert top scored with 127 as he edged out Zhao Xintong 4-3 while Ricky Walden made a 124 in a 4-2 defeat of Thepchaiya Un-Nooh, Tian Pengfei’s best break was also 124 as he dominated a Chinese derby against tour rookie Si Jiahui, winning 4-0.

Quarter-final line-up
Tian Pengfei v Tom Ford
David Gilbert v Ricky Walden
Mei Xi Wen v Mark Selby
Mark Allen v Lee Walker

Mark Allen looks like the favourite to win the event now and he will have some support in the ES studio: indeed he’s the only one still in the draw who has already qualified for the 2019 Champion of Champions so Jimmy White will hope for him to win come Sunday.

However the “Home Nations” have produces a good few suprise winners since the series started and everyone still in the draw has their chance!

Here is Tom Ford’s 147:

You can read more about Ronnie’s matches yesterday here (pictures included)

Ronnie’s run in the 2019 English Open comes to an end in the last 16

The day started reasonably well for Ronnie as he beat Hossein Vafaei by 4-1 in the last 32.

Screenshot 2019-10-17 at 16.43.40

It wasn’t a great match by any means. Hossein played badly and Ronnie picked up the pieces without playing well himself. Both players made unexpected mistakes, plenty of them in  Hossein’s case, and Ronnie’s concentration wasn’t the best. Players losing concentration happens sometimes when the match is “broken” because one player struggles badly, but I think there was more than just that here


Ronnie O’Sullivan v Hossein Vafaei – English Open 2019 – Last 32

This is the report by Worldsnooker (excerpt):

Ronnie O’Sullivan is yet to find top form this week but he booked his fourth round spot with a 4-1 defeat of Hossein Vafaei. Iran’s Vafaei took the opening frame on a respotted black but O’Sullivan won the next four with top breaks of 55, 52, 60 and 56.

and some great images by Tai Chengzhe

In the evening he faced Mei Xi Wen who played an excellent match to beat him by 4-3.

Screenshot 2019-10-18 at 09.22.33

Mei is 37, and had never before reached the QF stage in a main tour event. He’s a very capable player though, and well respected as a mentor to younger Chinese players. This season he seems to have found an extra gear. He will face Mark Selby today.


Ronnie O’Sullivan v Mei Xiwen – English Open 2019 – Last 16
(very start of the match is missing)

Here is the report by Worldsnooker (excerpt):

On a day of surprise results, O’Sullivan suffered a 4-3 defeat against China’s Mei Xiwen. That brought to an end O’Sullivan’s perfect record so far this season – he won last month’s Shanghai Masters and his first three matches this week, before falling to world number 70 Mei, who is into the quarter-finals of a ranking event for the first time.

EnglishOpen2019MeiL16After sharing the first four frames, O’Sullivan appeared to gain the momentum with a run of 134 to lead 3-2. Mei got the better of frame six then had first chance in the decider and made 52 before missing a red to a centre pocket . O’Sullivan had a chance to counter but only made 16 before failing to pot a difficult red along a side cushion, and that proved his last shot as Mei added 71.

And more nice pictures by Tai Chengzhe – Thank you Tai!

I think we all saw it coming. Ronnie wasn’t at his best. He made no mystery of the fact that his main purpose was to gain some match sharpness ahead of the Yushan World Open, starting on October 28, 2019. Some of the shots he played against Hossein were the kind of shots I’ve seen him play in practice matches. That said he played much better against Mei Xiwen, and it really came down to only a couple of errors.

It’s also clear that he is no fan of the venue and he will be happy to sit on the couch in the studio or in the commentary box although he looked really annoyed with himself towards the end of his last match, which is good to see.

The 2019 English Open – Day 3

The last 64 round, played yesterday, saw the departure of the defending champion, Stuart Bingham and of Mark Williams.

Here is the report by Worldsnooker:

Ronnie O’Sullivan had to come from 2-0 down for the second consecutive match at the 19.com English Open but once again prevailed 4-3 to reach the third round.

He joins top stars including Judd Trump, Neil Robertson, Mark Selby, Shaun Murphy, Kyren Wilson and Mark Allen in a strong line up for Thursday’s action.

On Monday, O’Sullivan had to come from 2-0 and 3-2 down to beat Jamie O’Neill, and today’s meeting with China’s up-and-coming Yuan Sijun followed a similar pattern. Breaks of 79 and 104 put Yuan 2-0 ahead. Five-time World Champion O’Sullivan pulled one back with a run of 68 then Yuan went 3-1 up with a 66.

O’Sullivan then stepped up a gear and took the last three frames with 81, 84 and 87, making it six wins from six matches so far this season, having triumphed at last month’s Shanghai Masters. His next opponent is Iran’s Hossein Vafaei.

“I don’t judge whatever I do these days, I just go out and play,” said O’Sullivan. “Whatever happens this will be a fantastic week for me, if I lose I can do a bit of punditry.”

Trump’s 4-0 win over Daniel Wells was highlighted by breaks of 108 and 90. “I haven’t played well here so far, I am making errors,” admitted the world number one and World Champion. “I’m just trying to find some form, trying to get back to the way I played at the Crucible, playing with freedom and enjoying it.”

Robertson came through a tricky test against Marco Fu 4-2, compiling runs of 75, 50 and 100. “It was a tough draw and a good win – I had to prepare myself for the best Marco Fu,” said Robertson. “I am hungry to try to win a tournament as soon as I can this season.”

Stuart Bingham saw the defence of his title ended by a 4-1 defeat against China’s 17-year-old Si Jiahui.  Tour rookie Si hadn’t won a professional match before this tournament, but having knocked out Soheil Vahedi in round one, he got the better of Bingham with top breaks of 85 and 68.

World number three Mark Williams was another high profile casualty as he lost 4-1 to Michael Holt, whose top break was 86. “I just need to handle the nerves because that’s what has stopped me in the past,” said Holt. “If I keep this mentality and mindset, it doesn’t matter who I play. I feel better in practice than I have done for the last couple of seasons.”

Shaun Murphy beat Sunny Akani 4-1, making a break of 133 in the fourth frame. That was the 500th century of his career; he joins Ronnie O’Sullivan, Stephen Hendry, John Higgins, Neil Robertson, Judd Trump, Mark Selby and Ding Junhui as the only players to have crossed that milestone.

Jack Lisowski made a 59 clearance in the decider to edge out Alfie Burden 4-3, while three-time Crucible king Mark Selby top scored with 77 in a 4-1 defeat of Martin O’Donnell. Mark Allen saw off Andy Lee 4-0 with a top run of 86.

Kyren Wilson beat Bai Langning 4-3 thanks to a 65 in the decider, while David Gilbert made breaks of 130, 88 and 136 in a 4-0 win over Ryan Davies.

You can read more about Ronnie’s win and the manner of it here

Amongst the above results, Stuart Bingham’s 4-1 defeat by Si Jiahui is certainly the biggest surprise of the tournament so far. Stuart’s form has been dire so far this season.

Today, two rounds will be played: the last 32 and the last 16.

This the last 32 draw and schedule:

2019 English Open - Last 32

Despite a number of early exits at the top, it’s a very interesting line-up: nearly every match there would be worth the television table!

There are still four very young Chinese players in the draw, including Fan Zhengyi who hasn’t had the best time on the tour until now. I’m happy to see him improving; hopefully this will boost his confidence a bit.

Still in the draw as well is rookie Louis Heathcote, from Leicester. Louis impressed in the Q-school and his results so far confirm his quality: he’s won four of the seven matches he played so far.

Ronnie will first play Hossein Vafaei, someone he sometimes practices with when in Sheffield, and who he respects. It’s not an easy match for either of them, but hopefully it will be a good one. Ronnie needs to get match sharper. He wants to do well in Yushan. Should Ronnie win, he could well face his Nemesis, Elliot Slessor. Elliot faces Mei Xiwen in the last 32. Mei is a capable player but never came across as “top player” material. This season though he has so far won five of the eight matches he played, beating Li Hang, Yan Bingtao and Gary Wilson in the most recent ones. Also he faced another Chinese player in six out of nine of his past matches this season (there was one walk over). Maybe it’s seeding going against odds again, but it’s strange…

 

The 2019 English Open – Ronnie beats Yuan Sijun in the last 64

Ronnie beat Yuan Siju by 4-3 in the last 64 round today. However the scoreline is the only thing this match had in common with his first round win over Jamie O’Neil. Ronnie was focused, patient and totally professional from start to finish. And yet he had to come back from 2-0 and 3-1 down to get the win. Yuan, who is rated very highly by Stephen Hendry, played extremely well, and it’s only towards the end that he showed some signs of nerves and where, I assume, Ronnie’s experience got him through. The commentators stressed that this was the best match of the tournament so far.

EnglishOpen2019ROSL64Scores

In the studio, Ronnie was full of praise for his young opponent and quite happy with his own performance. He has barely played competitively for five months and he said that matches like this one is just what he needs to get sharp.

This is Ronnie postmatch in the studio:

This is the report by Worldsnooker:

Ronnie O’Sullivan had to come from 2-0 down for the second consecutive match at the 19.com English Open but once again prevailed 4-3 to reach the third round.

He joins top stars including Judd Trump, Neil Robertson, Mark Selby, Shaun Murphy, Kyren Wilson and Mark Allen in a strong line up for Thursday’s action.

On Monday, O’Sullivan had to come from 2-0 and 3-2 down to beat Jamie O’Neill, and today’s meeting with China’s up-and-coming Yuan Sijun followed a similar pattern. Breaks of 79 and 104 put Yuan 2-0 ahead. Five-time World Champion O’Sullivan pulled one back with a run of 68 then Yuan went 3-1 up with a 66.

O’Sullivan then stepped up a gear and took the last three frames with 81, 84 and 87, making it six wins from six matches so far this season, having triumphed at last month’s Shanghai Masters. His next opponent is Iran’s Hossein Vafaei.

“I don’t judge whatever I do these days, I just go out and play,” said O’Sullivan. “Whatever happens this will be a fantastic week for me, if I lose I can do a bit of punditry.”

This is the match::

Here are a few images … big thanks to Tai Chengzhe