The Masters 2019 – Day 5

The first day of the QF round brought its fair share of excitement at Alexandra Palace.

Ronnie booked his place in the semi finals round at the Masters for a remarkable 14th time. He beat Ryan Day by 6-3 in the afternoon session. It was an excellent match overall. Ronnie was very sharp, but still looked tired and had a few lapses of concentration, mainly before the MSI. Ryan played really well himself.

You can read all about the Ronnie v Ryan Day QF here.

Quite remarkably, out of 13 past appearances in the SF at the Masters, Ronnie won 12. Can he make it 13? We will see. What is certain is that he has a match on his hands as his opponent will be Ding Junhui who, in the evening,  got the better of Luca Brecel, in a decider!

Here is the report on that match (Worldsnooker)

Ding Junhui won an exciting quarter-final against Luca Brecel 6-5 to set up a match with Ronnie O’Sullivan at the Dafabet Masters.

China’s Ding made an excellent match-winning break in the deciding frame to settle an enthralling contest which never had more than one frame between the two competitors.

Eighth seed Ding is through to the semi-finals of this event for the first time since he won it in 2011. He’ll face O’Sullivan on Saturday afternoon in a repeat of the 2007 final, which the Englishman won 10-3. Ding is seeking his first title since the 2017 Yushan World Open.

The first six frames tonight were shared, Ding making breaks of 125 and 64 while Brecel knocked in 63, 74 and 87. World number 14 Brecel, who was aiming to reach the semi-finals of a Triple Crown event for the first time, took frame seven in two scoring visits before Ding responded with a 105 for 4-4.

In the ninth, Ding trailed 35-0 when he was faced with a tough safety, and tried to come off the side cushion to rest against a red on the top cushion. He could have hit the ball directly, so when he failed to make contact three times in a row, referee Greg Coniglio had to award the frame to Brecel.

Unfazed by that error, Ding won the tenth with runs of 32 and 57 for 5-5. The key moment of the decider came when Brecel, leading 23-6, missed a straight-forward red to a centre pocket. Ding got the next chance and made no mistake, his cool 65 clinching the tie.

Ding said: “I believe in myself to do well in deciders. I’ve won most of them in the last couple of seasons. In a decider, it’s about who wants to win it, and I believed that I could win the game. Luca had a brilliant chance to win it, but he missed the red in the middle pocket which was unbelievable.

“I’ve finally got a chance to play Ronnie. I had a chance to play him in the UK Championship and in the Shanghai Masters but each time I lost the game before I met him. This time in the Masters, a big tournament, I’m looking forward to playing him.”

Brecel added: “It’s disappointing to lose today, I had my chances. Normally I’m very good in deciders, today I lost one. It happens. I have to get over it but it’s tough at the moment.”

It was a truly crazy match this, and from a neutral point of view a very entertaining one. Luca Brecel has all the ability in the world, and, incredibly, he played the whole match with a badly damaged tip. He had damaged it whilst having some practice minutes before the start of the match, with no time left to fix it.

Masters 2019 Luca damaged tip

Paul Collier did some repair work on it at MSI, but it still wasn’t right by any means.

Despite this Luca played some really incredible shots throughout the match, but then, he also made equally incredible mistakes. It was a real mixture of the sublime and the ridiculous at times.

Ding forfeited the ninth frame over the “three misses” rule.

Here is how this happened:

Asked what happened there by the pundits in the ES studio, Ding just said that he was so sure that he would reach one of the three reds at third attempt that he took the shot again; his rationale was also that taking the one he actually saw full ball would definitely have given Luca a good opening, from which he expected him to win the frame.

All week the cushions have been a talking point in the studio as, apparently, they are quite not reacting to shots played with side they way they usually do on match tables at WS events. This may be caused by conditions in the venue. Alexandra Palace is very peculiar, the arena is set in a huge room, with a very high ceiling, Getting the air conditioning right isn’t easy especially with a nearly 2000 capacity. One fitter told me once that humidity level could go up by as much as 15% when Ronnie was playing and every seat was taken. It has been full capacity nearly all week this time.

And I was very pleased to see Ding so happy and relaxed, laughing and joking with the pundits.

The Masters 2019 – Ronnie beats Ryan Day in the Quarter Finals

masters2019rosqfwin

Ronnie beat Ryan Day by 6-3 this afternoon, but it wasn’t a comfortable match by any means. Both players scored well: there were ten breaks over 50, in only nine frames.

Masters2019 QF ROS Scores

Ronnie looked tired, he admitted he was actually feeling tired when interviewed in the studio, and his concentration was far from perfect, particularly before the MSI. He had a couple of really bad misses on basic shots and was visibly annoyed with himself.  However, he didn’t let this affect him for long and that was great to see.

masters2019rosqfstats

Here is the report on BBC website:

Masters Snooker 2019: Ronnie O’Sullivan beats Day to reach last four

The report by Worldsnooker

With a bit of help from his dance teacher, Ronnie O’Sullivan waltzed into the semi-finals of the Dafabet Masters with a 6-3 win over Ryan Day.

It was a closely fought battle for seven-time Masters champion O’Sullivan, and it was a chance meeting with his instructor which helped him through.

“I found out my dance teacher was here,” said O’Sullivan. “I said to him, I haven’t got any rhythm going. He told me go 1-2-1-2-1-2-1-2-3-4 and that sort of worked for me! Once you get the rhythm going you’re ok.”

The Rocket goes through to face Ding Junhui or Luca Brecel on Saturday afternoon.

World number three O’Sullivan is aiming for his fourth title of the season having already won the Shanghai Masters, Champion of Champions and UK Championship. The last of that trio was his 19th career Triple Crown victory so he can break the 20 barrier by winning two more matches this weekend in his native London.

O’Sullivan won the opening frame with a break of 68 before Day fought back strongly with 54 and 68 to lead 2-1. Back came O’Sullivan with 74 and 119 – his 989th career century – to lead 3-2. Welshman Day made a 77 to win the sixth then O’Sullivan regained the lead with a run of 65.

Frame eight proved the turning point as Day looked set to make it 4-4 when he led 66-0. But he misjudged a safety shot, gifting his opponent a chance, and O’Sullivan took advantage with a rapid 78 clearance. A break of 92 in the ninth put O’Sullivan into his 14th Masters semi-final.

“The frame I snatched to go 5-3 was a big turning point,” said 43-year-old O’Sullivan. “At one stage I was sitting there thinking if Ryan beats me he could go on and win the whole tournament. He’s a class act and a class player.

“It’s a fine line between winning and losing these days. I’m not that much better than anyone else. It’s very close between eight or nine players. I know it’s touch and go in most matches you play. It just comes down to how you play on the day.”

World number 13 Day said: “I could have quite easily gone 4-4, and then you never know what might have happened. A couple of safety errors cost me. It was only a couple of shots here and there, there was nothing in the match really.

“I’m just looking forward to the next tournament, the German Masters, I really enjoy that event. Then we’ve got the World Grand Prix in Cheltenham which is a new venue, so there’s plenty to look forward to in the coming months.”

Here is some coverage:

BBC

ES

And Ronnie’s interview with Worldsnooker after the match

Hopefully some images still to be added ….  

 

 

The Masters 2019 – Day 4

The last day of the last 16 at Alexandra Palace proved to be yet another tale of the unexpected.

In the afternoon match, Judd Trump defeated Kyren Wilson by 6-2. This match was expected to be close, it wasn’t. Kyren had beaten Judd in all four of their encounters in 2018, including a 6-5 win, from 5-2 down at the Masters last year. There was nothing of that yesterday. Judd played very well, and, quite significantly didn’t take any liberties. Kyren didn’t play anywhere near his best until he found himself 5-0 down. Still leading 5-2, Judd briefly appeared anxious and uneasy, judging by his body language. However, he then left the arena fort a comfort break and came back calm and collected to seal the match.

Here is the report on Worldsnooker:

Judd Trump stormed to a 6-2 win over rival Kyren Wilson to book his place in the last eight of the Dafabet Masters at Alexandra Palace in London.

Trump gains revenge for a gut-wrenching semi-final defeat at last year’s Masters. On that occasion Wilson fought back from 5-2 down to claim a dramatic 6-5 victory and reach the final, where he eventually lost to Mark Allen.

That was the beginning of a four-game win streak over Trump for Wilson in major competition, culminating in a 6-1 victory at last November’s Champion of Champions. The following weeks saw both players exchange tense words in the media, which added extra spice to this occasion. However, Trump will be pleased to have emphatically brought a halt to Wilson’s run this afternoon.

Trump, who has nine ranking titles to his name, will face either Mark Selby or Stephen Maguire in the quarter-finals. The 29-year-old from Bristol is yet to reach a Masters final, but will be bidding for a fourth appearance in the semis.

There was a real intensity about Trump’s play from the off this afternoon. The Juddernaut came flying out of the traps with a sublime break of 128. He then doubled his lead to make it 2-0, before a crucial third frame.

Wilson had amassed a 57-0 advantage, but missed a frame ball green. Trump stepped up to the plate and punished him by delivering a hammer blow clearance of 58 to move three up. He followed that up with a contribution of 81 to seal a clean sweep 4-0 advantage at the mid-session.

After losing another frame when they returned, Kettering’s Wilson rallied to claw his way back into the tie at 5-2. However, Trump slammed the door shut on another Masters fightback with a break of 72 to clinch the 6-2 win.

“It’s nice to win. I’ve lost the last few times against him and this is one I was really up for. I practised hard over Christmas and this was one I wasn’t going to lose. Neither of us want to lose to the other because of the rivalry,” said 2011 UK Champion Trump. “It was a good atmosphere. When you get rivalries like that and you’ve got a bit of competition in the audience as well, some calling out and stuff — it’s all good fun. I love coming here, I love the atmosphere and it normally brings out the best in me.

“I’ve never got to the final here. I’ve been close a couple of times. The draw is always tough, you’ve got a difficult game in every single match you play. I’ll be going away and practising tomorrow to try and get ready for the next game. I’ll just do my best to go out and lift that trophy.”

Wilson said: “For me it’s just been about preparing for the Masters. I came here to win the Masters. I don’t know if he’s come here to win the Masters. I feel like it’s been quite centred on our rivalry. Fair play to him if he plays well and goes on to win the tournament.

“I’ve won the last couple against him quite comfortably, so it’s swings and roundabouts. We’re going to come up against each other for many years to come. He’s won this time, but I’ll be doing everything in my power to make sure it doesn’t happen again.”

No love lost then…

The evening match was every bit as surprising. Stephen Maguire came here as a man in form. Mark Selby on the other hand had won only one match in triple crown events since winning the 2017 World Championship. He had lost heavily in the first round to Joe Perry in Sheffield last April, and bowed out to an amateur in the first round of the UK Championship only a month ago. But yesterday told a different story. Mark seems to be back at his best, and Stephen, not unusually, became a bit reckless when pressed; he didn’t have much run of the balls either. The result was a rather emphatic 6-2 for the “Jester” and a century fest. I’m not sure that Maguire saw the funny side…

Here is the report on Worldsnooker:

Mark Selby won a match in a Triple Crown event for the first time since 2017 as he beat Stephen Maguire 6-2 at the Dafabet Masters.

Selby certainly has pedigree in snooker’s biggest tournaments having won the World Championship and Masters three times apiece as well as the UK Championship twice. But in 2018 he lost in the opening round of all three of those events, including a shock defeat against James Cahill in last month’s UK Championship.

So world number one Selby was relieved to get back to winning ways as he blitzed Maguire with three centuries and two more breaks over 90. That set up a mouth-watering quarter-final clash with Judd Trump at Alexandra Palace on Friday afternoon.

Scotland’s Maguire won a scrappy opening frame tonight but Selby soon got into his stride as runs of 115, 95 and 125 put him 3-1 ahead. World number 15 Maguire took frame five on the colours but he couldn’t live with his opponent’s heavy scoring as Leicester’s Selby fired further breaks of 133 and 96 as he dominated the last three frames.

“That was probably my best form,” said Selby. “Stephen’s been playing well of late, so I knew it was going to be a tough game and I needed to get off to a good start. In the first frame I was a little bit nervous and I think it showed. After that I seemed to just relax and play my normal game.

“Stephen in my eyes is still a top 16 player, top eight when he’s on top of his game and should still be challenging for tournaments. I think he’s massively underachieved for his ability. I think he’s a great lad and I rate him really highly.

“In the last few big competitions over the last year or 18 months I’ve struggled and not really produced. Sometimes you start thinking to yourself, is it ever going to come back? It’s nice to do it on a big occasion and in a big tournament like this.

“I’ve put too much pressure on myself in the past, especially in the three majors. It’s shown in the way I’ve performed sometimes. So it was nice to perform like that today and get the win.”

Maguire said: “He was good, every time he got in the balls he cleared up. It’s a tough school. I was hoping to pick up some momentum after winning the first frame after the interval. I got in first a few times, but I couldn’t get any momentum going.

“I have to get used to that again, it takes some getting used to. It’s a proper tournament — one table, big crowd. The cut-off for the Crucible is the most important thing now for me. I’ll shake this defeat off and look to Germany at the end of this month. I want to be competing. I don’t want to be just showing up and lingering around the top 16. I want to be playing in venues like this.

So, today sees the start of the QF round. I haven’t got it exactly right in my first round predictions, but, there you go:

Ronnie v Ryan Day

Ronnie appeared tired in his first, and admitted suffering from insomnia when interviewed in the studio. He wasn’t 100% sharp at the table, but still produce a very decent standard. Ryan Day is a very heavy scorer on his day, and he did score against John Higgins, but still needed a deciding frame to beat him. If they play the way they did in the last 16, I expect Ronnie to win rather comfortably. If, however, Ronnie is still tired, and, if Ryan gets off to a good start, keeping his opponent in his seat,  then Ryan could also win quite comfortably. We have seen such scenario before …

Luca Brecel v Ding Junhui

Luca played very well in the last 16, much better than Ding did. Ding won his first round easily – if we only look at the scoreline –  but the truth is that Jack Lisowski had chances in most frames, and good ones too, but didn’t take them. If both play like they did in the first round, Luca should win. However, Ding is a much more experienced player, and at his best a devastating break builder. Luca wasn’t expected to win against Mark Allen, now he will have more expectations on him. Therefore I’m not sure how much the first round matches are a good indication of what will happen tonight. Very difficult to call, but it should be entertaining.

Judd Trump v Mark Selby

Surely the tie of the round. To me the key questions for this match are these:  will Mark Selby be able to play at the level he did yesterday? If put under pressure by Mark Selby, will Judd Trump be able to keep the discipline he showed against Kyren Wilson. If the answer to those two questions is yes, then we are in for a tremendous match that can only go very, very close. If not, we could just as well have a one-sided affair, either way.

Neil Robertson v Barry Hawkins

Barry Hawkins is probably the less “fancied” player remaining in the line-up. In many ways, it’s weird because Barry has an excellent record in majors, he’s mighty solid. But, he’s never actually won any triple crown event, he reached finals, but never lifted the trophies. Neil Robertson played well against Mark Williams, but only after a slow start. Also “Willo” was rather poor overall. So, I’m not sure how good Neil’s form actually is. Barry could well cause him problems.

 

Ronnie confirmed to play in the Grand Prix next month

This isn’t a surprise, but always nice to get it confirmed…

This was published by Worldsnooker today:

Snooker’s leading players will be in Cheltenham next month for the Coral World Grand Prix, with crowd favourite Ronnie O’Sullivan to play on the opening night.

Staged at the Centaur arena, it’s the first ever professional snooker event to be held at Cheltenham Racecourse. The world ranking event runs from February 4 to 10 with a top prize of £100,000 up for grabs.

The leading 32 players on snooker’s one-year ranking list qualify for the event. The field is not yet confirmed as there is still one more counting event, the German Masters which finishes on February 3.

However many top stars are already guaranteed a place in the draw. The following first round matches, for the current top eight players on the one-year list, have been scheduled:

Monday February 4

7pm
Five-time World Champion Ronnie O’Sullivan v opponent
2018 Masters champion Mark Allen v opponent

Tuesday February 5

1pm
Current World Champion Mark Williams v opponent
Triple Crown winner Neil Robertson v opponent

7pm
Northern Ireland Open champion Judd Trump v opponent
Cheltenham’s Rising star Jack Lisowski v opponent

Wednesday February 6

1pm
World number one Mark Selby v opponent
World Open finalist David Gilbert v opponent

Other top stars currently in line to qualify include John Higgins, Shaun Murphy, Stuart Bingham, Kyren Wilson, Barry Hawkins and Ding Junhui. The full draw and format will be announced as soon as it is available.

A spokesman for World Snooker said: “It’s looking like an incredibly strong field for Cheltenham, we’re delighted to see a superb line up building. This is going to be a great opportunity for the local fans to see the very best players on the planet and experience the unique thrill of live snooker.

“We have scheduled matches for the top eight so that fans know when their favourites will be in action. We expect tickets to sell extremely fast for those sessions so they must be booked quickly.

“There is a great sense of anticipation among the players to compete at the world famous Cheltenham Racecourse for the first time and we have no doubt that this will be a wonderful week of top class sporting action.”

Televised by ITV, the Coral World Grand Prix is the first in the Coral series, to be followed by the Coral Players Championship in Preston and new Coral Tour Championship in Llandudno.

Tickets for Cheltenham are now on sale and start at just £15, tremendous value for money.

For an extra special experience there are also amazing hospitality packages available for all sessions, for up to 18 people in a private box .

For details call 0871 620 7052 (Calls cost 13p per minute from a BT landline plus network charges) or CLICK HERE

 

Ronnie pays tribute to Andy Murray

After Andy Murray’s defeat at the Australian Open, after showing tremendous heart and determination on the court, many sportspersons reacted, showing admiration and support.

Ronnie was one of them

And this reported by BBC

Ronnie O’Sullivan praises Andy Murray after retirement plans

Amazing though how they always seem to find something negative to put forward … the first sentence isn’t about Ronnie’s praise of Andy Murray, it’s about him being “lazy”!

Well, personally, I think Ronnie was genuine in his praise, and Andy Murray deserves only respect and admiration for what he did on and off the court. I wish him the best, first and foremost to be able to enjoy his life without pain nor unbearable limitations.

As for Ronnie, he may indeed not be as ruthless as Steve Davis and Stephen Hendry were, but to me, it’s precisely because he’s a bit softer on himself that he is still competing at the highest level at 43 (and counting). Anyone who ever did endurance sports – hiking over several days for instance – will know that managing your efforts and resting your body and mind at the right times is key to achieving the goal eventually.

The Masters 2019 – Day 3

Yesterday at Ally Pally was a bit strange.

In the first match of the day, mark Williams looked the stronger player, until he missed a rather easy brown, for 4-1. That shot turned the match upside down, as Neil Robertson suddenly found his form and went on to win the next five, and the match!

Here is the report on Worldsnooker:

Neil Robertson didn’t even qualify for the Dafabet Masters last year, but this time he’s into the quarter-finals as he came from 3-1 down to beat World Champion Mark Williams 6-3.

Australia’s Robertson dropped briefly out of the top 16 at just the wrong moment a year ago after a run of poor results, missing snooker’s biggest invitation tournament. Since then he has won two ranking events and climbed back into the world’s top ten.

And the former World, UK and Masters champion showed signs of his best form today at Alexandra Palace as he reeled off five frames in a row to send Williams home. Robertson goes through to face Barry Hawkins or Shaun Murphy on Friday evening.

Two-time Masters winner Williams made a top break of 74 as he built a 3-1 interval advantage. And the Welshman led 57-0 in frame five, only for Robertson to snatch it with a superb 59 clearance, which proved the turning point. Runs of 102 and 69 put Robertson 4-3 ahead.

Frame eight came down to a tactical battle on the colours, and after a safety error from Williams on the pink, Robertson slotted in an excellent pot along the top cushion for 5-3. A few minutes later the match was over as his run of 88 secured his place in the last eight.

“In the first few frames I was probably looking at shots for a bit too long, and funnily enough they were the balls I missed,” said 36-year-old Robertson. “I had to pick up the pace, it was as simple as that. I had to force myself to play the way I do in practice in terms of the tempo. That’s what I did and I got going and felt absolutely fantastic.

“I made a huge clearance to get it back to 3-2 and that was the moment in the match that really got me going. I played really well after that.

“It was really frustrating coming here last year (to work for Eurosport) and not being in the tournament. It’s hard to miss out. I would have been devastated to miss out again, especially this year with the new screens which are great for the audience because they can see a different perspective.

“To beat the World Champion today was a huge step in the right direction. I didn’t know what to expect from Mark. I was playing in the Championship League on New Year’s Day and Mark was on a cruise somewhere getting hammered! He said after he won the world title he was going to enjoy it as much as possible and he’s done that so good on him.”

Williams said: “I played poor all the way through really. I had an easy brown to look like going 4-1 up and when I missed that the match turned. He started to play ok, had some good breaks and the momentum shifted around. As soon as I missed that brown I was never in it.

“He had a lot of run when he was nicking frames off me, but after missing that brown the balls never forgave me.

“I was expecting to play like that to be honest because I’ve hardly touched my cue. I’ll have to start practising obviously with the World Championship coming up. It’s the only tournament I’m looking forward to. I’ll have to put a bit of work in for that otherwise I’ll play like I did today and go out in the first round. I’ve got no-one else to blame if I go out in the first round, it’ll be my own fault.”

The evening match was just as bizarre. Shaun Murphy looked unable to pot a ball for his life, and found himself 5-0 down in no time. Barry Hawkins had been solid – his safety in particular was good – but not really spectacular. Then Barry missed a difficult pot, and suddenly started to struggle whilst Shaun finally found something. But there was no come back in this one: 5-0 down proved to be too much to overcome. Shaun won two frames but that was it.

Here is the report on Worldsnooker:

Shaun Murphy joined Mark Allen, John Higgins and Mark Williams as the former champions to be knocked out of the Dafabet Masters as he was beaten 6-2 by Barry Hawkins.

It was a surprising scoreline at Alexandra Palace as the form which took Murphy to last month’s Scottish Open final deserted him. World number seven Hawkins goes through to a quarter-final with Neil Robertson on Friday evening.

Hawkins failed to win a match in his first five appearances in this tournament but since then he has learned to thrive on the big occasion. He reached the final in 2016, losing to Ronnie O’Sullivan, and the semi-finals the following year and will be confident of another deep run this time.

Hawkins took the opening frame tonight with runs of 31 and 38 then came from 54-2 down in the second, snatching it with a 35 clearance. The Londoner stepped up a gear as breaks of 86, 124 and 60 made it 5-0. His century in frame four made him the 20th player to score 300 career tons.

Murphy, who won this title in 2015, pulled one back with a break of 74, raising an arm and bowing to the crowd as he finally registered on the scoreboard. And he raised his hopes of a fight back by adding the seventh with runs of 37 and 38 to close to 5-2.

Frame eight came down to the colours and Hawkins trapped his opponent in a tough snooker on the yellow. Murphy not only failed to escape but sent the cue ball into a centre pocket, handing Hawkins the chance to clinch victory.

“It was a big moment to nick the second frame from 50 behind,” said 39-year-old Hawkins. “I think it hurt him a little bit. When I got chances I had lady luck on my side — I fluked a red into the middle pocket in the third frame and made a good break. In spells I felt pretty decent and confident in myself.

“I was 5-0 up and probably relaxed a little bit and missed a couple of balls, but I wasn’t twitching at that stage. Anything can happen in this game and if he goes 5-3 then all of a sudden I’d start feeling it a little bit more. I was pleased to get over the line at last.

“It’s a nightmare because the crowd want to see it go 5-5. They want to see as much snooker as possible when you just want to get out of there and win the match.”

As for joining the ‘300 club’ Hawkins added: “I didn’t have a clue until afterwards. There are not many players who have made 300 centuries in tournaments so it’s another little milestone.”

Murphy said: “It’s not what I’d envisaged over Christmas and New Year when I was thinking about this great event. I really felt I turned a corner in Glasgow and came here expecting to play very well.

“Those first two frames were two of the worst I think I’ve ever played and that completely bamboozled me. I did try hard, I never gave up, but there was too much to do and it was too little too late.

“My next focus is the German Masters and trying to climb that one-year list to try and get in the Tour Championship. That’s my next big thing.

“We all taste that horrible taste of defeat much more often than we have the excitement of winning. It’s something that you have to deal with as a sportsman and just move on.”

This is what awaits us today, in the last day of the first round

Masters 2019 - Day 4 line-up

Ahead of the first match, the head to head largely favours Kyren Wilson, even if Judd Trumps career tally is superior. There is a bit of needle between those two…

As for the second match, which form will Mark Selby be in is anyone’s guess.

The Masters 2019 – Day 2

The second day in Ally Pally saw both top seeds go through although the matches didn’t really unfold as expected.

A tired Ronnie, who revealed after the match that he had suffered a bad bout of insomnia, beat Stuart Bingham by 6-2. Stuart, who had just won Group 4 in the Championship League snooker, was far from his best and was unable to take advantage of Ronnie’s lapses in concentration.

You can read all about the Ronnie vs Bingham match here

The evening match saw Ding Junhui take on the only debutant in this years field, Jack Lisowski. Ding wasn’t at his best either but Jack, apparently overawed by the circumstances and environment, was totally unable to take advantage.

Here is the report on Worldsnooker

Ding Junhui won a match at Alexandra Palace for only the second time, scoring an emphatic 6-1 victory over debutant Jack Lisowski at the Dafabet Masters.

China’s Ding won this event in 2011, the last time it was staged at Wembley Arena. Since it has moved to its new home across North London he has never been past the quarter-finals, but he will reach the semis if he can beat Luca Brecel on Thursday evening.

In truth tonight’s scoreline did not reflect the balance of play as Lisowski had chances in most of the frames. He admitted before the tournament that he could struggle to concentrate on his first appearance in snooker’s biggest invitation event, and so it proved as he was unable to take the opportunities which came his way.

Ding won the first frame with a break of 66 and added the second with a 33 clearance after Lisowski had broken down when leading 49-40. Frame three came down to a long safety battle on the pink and Ding converted excellent pots on the pink and black for 3-0. The fourth also could have gone either way but Ding cleared from green to black to snatch it by a point.

World number eight Ding maintained his momentum after the interval with a run of 123 to lead 5-0. Lisowski, who has climbed into the top 16 for the first time after some fine results this season, pulled one back with a break of 60. But Ding won the seventh in three scoring visits to seal the result.

Ding said: “Jack was under more pressure than me, so he made more mistakes. When it’s your first time here you really want to get in front so the first frame was important. The chances were always there but he didn’t take them and sometimes you can get punished.

“For me, no matter how I play, I just want to win. I believe I can do well at this venue for the next few seasons. It’s a good start.

“The Masters is only 16 players. They’re all good and there are no easy games. Even if your opponent’s not playing well it’s still a hard game. Concentration is the first thing.”

Lisowski said: “In the early part of the game I just didn’t settle down fast enough. By the end I felt pretty exhausted. I’ve never played in front of a crowd that involved, it was such a buzz and when I won that frame to go 5-1 it just drained me.

“It’s my first time here so it’s about getting that out of the way and taking it all in. I didn’t feel too bad out there, some of my safety was ok. If I can play my game I think I’ll have a chance eventually. I was pretty nervous before the game, but I actually felt ok out there.

“I was thinking ‘this is why I play’ and this is the atmosphere I want to play in. It was a bit disappointing, but it wasn’t a disaster.”

After the match, Ding appeared happy and relaxed, which is good to see. Only too often in the past he looked unhappy and dispirited even after winning. Ding has to contend with the expectations of a nation since a very young age, all eyes are always on him; this can’t be easy. Becoming a father seems to have brought another dimension to his life.

The first round matches are always a bit of a banana skin for the top seeds, and the main goal is simply to win it, nevermind if it’s brilliantly or ugly. Mission accomplished for Ding and Ronnie yesterday.