Final Day in Cardiff – Ronnie fights back to win.

I’ll leave it to Hector Nunns (inside-snooker) to tell the story, better than I ever could …

O’SULLIVAN CRUSHES RIVAL ROBERTSON IN CARDIFF

Hector Nunns February 22, 2016

Ronnie O’Sullivan rattled off a magnificent seven frames in a row to claim a record-equalling fourth BetVictor Welsh Open title on Sunday night.

The Rocket trailed Neil Robertson 5-2 at one stage at the Motorpoint Arena in Cardiff – but ran out a 9-5 winner to leave the Australian in shell-shock and claim the £60,000 first prize.

O’Sullivan, who ties Steve Davis and John Higgins on 28 ranking titles, finished with a flourish and a break of 141 – his 10th century of the week.

And he has now astonishingly won all 19 matches he has played in 2016 after also winning the Masters at a canter last month.

While there was plenty to marvel at in O’Sullivan’s achievement and the way he turned the match on its head, there was also an element of anti-climax about the contest.

World No3 Robertson, certainly the player of the season before this final, has not only been hailed as one of the few realistic barriers to O’Sullivan dominance – but got himself in a position to win this match.

But in most un-Robertson fashion the 34-year-old allowed some bad run and missed chances to affect his performance, and O’Sullivan simply leapt on the errors.

O’Sullivan, who started the event with a row over snubbing the chance of a 147, said: “I played a lot better here this week than I did at the Masters and really found some fluency.

“It is a fourth Welsh Open title – but I’d like it better if I could win it five times.

“I feel shattered, and could really doing with relaxing for a month, playing some exhibitions in order to give Sheffield and the world title a real shot. That’s the one we all want.

“I think Neil is the best player at the moment, he was at 75 or 80 per cent tonight but I was determined that if he won he was going to have to earn it.”

Robertson said: “In a way I feel I threw it away. There was a key first frame of the evening when I went into the pack and got nothing, 5-4 and 6-3 are a lot different.

“Ronnie is a great front-runner and when he gets his tail up and some momentum he is hard to stop.”

After Barry Hawkins’ capitulation at the Masters the same was not expected in Wales – but even Robertson crumbled under the pressure.

The week had of course started with a storm over O’Sullivan refusing the chance of a 14th career 147 maximum break.

The 40-year-old O’Sullivan deliberately passed up the chance against first-round opponent Barry Pinches, taking a pink and a 146 as a protest over a £12,000 prize he called “not enough”.

Some fellow pros thought he had a point – but others, including Ali Carter, thought he was being selfish and could have donated the prize to charity.

The headlines and spotlight would have thrown many out of their stride – but snooker maverick O’Sullivan responded with a week of utter brilliance.

Always his own harshest critic, the Rocket claimed after his semi-final win over Joe Perry that he had rarely played better than in Cardiff.

The Australian had been itching for a crack at O’Sullivan over distance ever since a painful Crucible last-16 loss four years ago.

A combination of O’Sullivan playing less, and the luck of the draw, meant that Robertson’s 5-1 win in the 2010 World Open showpiece was their only previous final.

Robertson won this season’s UK Championship and Champion of Champions during O’Sullivan’s latest eight-month sabbatical.

And O’Sullivan won January’s Masters without directly running into Robertson, Judd Trump or John Higgins – something the Australian pointed out this week.

O’Sullivan had a near-miss in the last of the session at 5-2 down, when Robertson had to tell referee Terry Camilleri to issue his opponent with a warning after missing the brown twice with the black visible. A third miss could have seen O’Sullivan docked a frame.

But having got out of jail O’Sullivan capitalised on misses from a suddenly demoralised opponent, adding the first four frames of the evening to lead 7-5. And he soon closed out the match. 

Here are the quotes from both players (source Worldsnooker)

Ronnie

“I just hung in there in the first session because nothing quite happened for me,” said five-time World Champion O’Sullivan. “I tried to stay positive, using all the skills that I’ve learned from (psychiatrist) Steve Peters over the last four or five years.

“Neil steam-rollered me, kept me tight and played some hard match snooker. I only got going towards the end. It wasn’t the best match in the world but not the worst either.

“The record books don’t bother me, I’m not really interested in that. I’m interested in just enjoying the game, as I have this week. Even if I had lost in the final it still would have been a great week.

“I’m not getting better, you don’t get better from 35 onwards. You just have to try to maintain what you’ve got and look after it. I’ve just recaptured what was always there and it’s nice to find it coming out now and again.

“I haven’t slept for the last three nights, I think everybody knows I’ve got insomnia. I’m absolutely knackered and it was really hard for me out there. I had to ignore that and just try to pot some balls. I have to start taking some medication which helps me sleep. I think I need a nice easy month now so I can fill the tank up again.”

Neil

Robertson said: “I just missed a couple of awkward shots tonight and he was getting into his groove. He never had to pot a ball more than two feet away to get in. I made it pretty easy for him and he’s a very special player to be able to construct the breaks as quickly as he does. But the first two frames tonight, I should never have lost those. I missed a tricky pink in the middle and a really tricky red in the middle, two shots that caught the jaws. If they go in I go on to win the frame.

“From 5-5 he gathered pace and he is pretty hard to stop. Overall I had a good week, but losing any final is tough to take. I’ve won my previous two finals so the law of averages will say that I’m probably going to lose one.

“The crowd has been fantastic all week and it’s a brilliant tournament, one of my favourite tournaments and I hope it is going to stay here at this venue for many years.”

Watch the Final again here:

Session 1

Session 2

Check the pictures gallery, thanks to Tai Chenzhe

Ronnie is the Welsh Open 2016 Champion

Ronnie beat Neil Robertson by 9-5 to become the Welsh Open 2016 Champion.

RonnieWinner2.png

Ronnie came back from 5-2 behind to win the Welsh Open 2016 by 9-5. He won every frame of the final session, finishing with a great 141, his 10th century of the tournament.

WelshOpen2016FinalScores

Ronnie has now won the Welsh Open four times, on par with John Higgins . This is his twenty-eighth ranking title, same as Steve Davis and John Higgins, all joint second behind Stephen Hendry on thirty six.

RonnieWinner3

Some quotes from the interview in front of the crowd:

“I just tried to stay in there and stay patient. I’ve had a fantastic week and played so much better here than at the Masters.” 

RonnieWelshWinPress

Reactions from fellow pros and commentators on twitter: 

Peter Ebdon@pdebdon

Ronnie wins the Welsh Open to equal John Higgins and Steve Davis, with 28 ranking event titles. A tremendous achievement.

David Hendon@davehendon

Ronnie was magnificent all week.

Neal Foulds@fouldsy147

Just one more thing, Ronnie is the greatest snooker player of all time #WelshOpenSnooker

Mark Williams MBE@markwil147 

I can say i turned pro at the same time as the best player ever, and 27 years on hes still the best in the world. Awesome @ronnieo147

More will follow tomorrow, quotes, images, videos, statistics … but for now it’s time to celebrate!

Well done Champ!

It’s 5-3 to Neil Robertson after the first session in the Welsh Open 2016 Final

Neil has dominated the first session but very importantly Ronnie took the last frame to go only 5-3 behind before the final session tonight. Nothing is done yet. Neil has the advantage but Ronnie is certainly still in the match …

It’s a bit late but here is what Hector had to write ahead of the final with quotes from both players:

O’SULLIVAN V ROBERTSON – A WELSH OPEN FINAL TO SAVOUR

Hector Nunns February 21, 2016

Ronnie O’Sullivan and Neil Robertson have provided the BetVictor Welsh Open with a final to savour on Sunday – and the showpiece many neutrals wanted to see.

For many the two best players in recent years, the pair have not crossed swords in the latter stages of major events as much as you might have thought – or as much as the public might have wished.

There has been only one meeting in a final, and that only over the best of nine frames at the World Open in Glasgow six years ago – won 5-1 by the Australian.

The two big clashes at the Crucible were won 13-10 by O’Sullivan, in 2007 and then in 2012 – when Robertson said he was sure the winner would ultimately go on to take the title that year. He did.

The most recent meeting before today, in a head-to-head that stands overall at 10-6 to O’Sullivan with one draw, was a comprehensive 6-1 win for world No3 Robertson at the Masters last year.

Robertson is a solid bet to make the final of pretty much everything he enters currently, and before Christmas won two big titles back to back, the Champion of Champions and the UK Championship.

But O’Sullivan has been in absolutely sublime form this week, right from opening day and the controversial decision to deliberately snub the chance of a maximum 147 break because the prize was too low at £10,000 plus an extra £2,000 for the event high break.

When a critic as harsh as the 40-year-old is about his own displays says he is playing the best stuff of his life, opponents should be wary and viewers should tune in.

World No5 O’Sullivan said after his 6-3 semi-final win over Joe Perry: “It will be Robocop against off-his-nut guy, I’m all over the shop without a clue! Neil is a machine, I play off my instinct and like to be busy out there.

“You don’t get much emotion out of him, he is bullet proof and as everyone knows I have tried that and it’s not me, I can’t do it.

“I can’t wait. We are very different players but it could be a great match, hopefully I can produce more good form. If we both do that there could easily be eight or nine century breaks.

“Someone has to try and stop Neil otherwise he could dominate for years, I know that is his intention. I’ll have a go at putting a dent in him tomorrow.

“I have played really well this week, some of the best I have ever played and that is a great achievement for me, really some of the best stuff ever over the past four or five years.

“And I have tried to reinvent myself after watching how players like Judd Trump and Ding Junhui were attacking more. Others have done it in their fields, Madonna and Michael Jackson maybe.”

World No3 Robertson, 34, beat Mark Allen 6-4 to take his place in the showpiece, over the best of 17 frames and for the £60,000 top prize.

He said: “It will be fantastic challenge, we have only played one final and that was a best-of-nine frame World Open six years ago that I won 5-1.

“There have been great matches at the Crucible that went 13-10, at least one of which I knew would decide the eventual winner.

 “It will be a terrific occasion, a lot of people would have wanted this final at the start. I have won a couple of big titles this season, and Ronnie has won the Masters.

“He won the Masters without playing the three players people thought might give him the most trouble – myself, John Higgins and Judd Trump.”

“But because right now both us are more or less at the top of our games, now it has finally come around it is set up perfectly. I have improved every game, and he is playing superbly.

“I may be considered a slight underdog, but that is fine with me, it will be the first time for ages that has been the case.”

It is a final over distance we have all been waiting for – don’t miss it.

 

Day 6 in Cardiff – Semi Finals

Both semi finals followed a similar pattern: in both there was a favourite and an underdog (all things being relative of course, because you don’t reach the semi finals unless you are in good form). In both matches, the underdog looked good at the early stages, before the match was turned around.

Mark Allen went 2-0 up on Neil Robertson and looked on his way to 3-0 when he fouled a red with his cue. He looked baffled by the referee’s call and questioned the decision but Terry Camilleri stood his ground. That incident seemed to rattled Mark Allen whilst Neil Robertson took advantage to reduce his deficit to 2-1. After that Neil went on a roll, taking five frames on the trot. With his back against the wall, Mark fought valliantly to come back to 5-4. He had a chance to force a decider but took a difficult last red close to the cushion and into a blind pocket, missed it and left it … that was that.

You can read all about the Ronnie win over Joe Perry in this post.

All the results and statistics are available on cuetracker.net . Thank you Ron Florax.

Semi Finals win for Ronnie in Cardiff

Ronnie booked his place in the Final of the Welsh Open 2016, beating Joe Perry by 6-3. Neil Robertson awaits…

Ronnie WelshSFScores

RonnieWelshSFStats

It only takes a look at the scores and statistics to understand that this was a very high quality match. Joe Perry certainly didn’t disgrace himself: he was very solid, especially in the balls, and it was probably Ronnie’s superior safety that was the key to the victory.

The match didn’t start in the best way actually. Technical problems slightly delayed the start of the match. The first frame went extremely scrappy and despite winning it with a good 41 clearance, Ronnie didn’t look too happy. Then a power cut forced an unschedule “interval”, players and referee going back backstage. After about ten minutes, play resumed and the returning Ronnie looked quite moody. Joe then immediately potted a great long red from Ronnie’s break-off and made a fantastic 139 …  at that stage, I will admit to it, I feared the worse.

But, no, as he had all week, Ronnie stayed calm, played him own game and responded with a 124 in the next frame. Joe made it 2-2 with a great 92. It was MSI time.

After the MSI Ronnie started to really dominate the match, 101, 94 and 88 brought him one frame away from victory. Joe wasn’t going to lie down and won the next aided by a 56 but that was as good as it got for him. Ronnie sealed the match in the ninth with an excellent 78, after Joe lost position at 24.

2016 Welsh Open: Ronnie O’Sullivan – Joe Perry

MissingClip  2016 Welsh Open: MSI of the Ronnie O’Sullivan – Joe Perry match (BBC)

MissingClip 2016 Welsh Open: review of the Ronnie O’Sullivan – Joe Perry match (BBC)

 Ronnie gave a good press conference

RonnieWelshSFPress

“The matches are getting harder but I felt I scored well tonight,” said world number five O’Sullivan, who lost to Robertson at the 2010 World Open in their only previous final. “I was nervous because I’m playing well and I want to stay in the tournament. At the Masters I wasn’t nervous at all because I expected to lose. This week I’ve played six unbelievable matches and I’m waiting for the bubble to burst.

“In the past three or four years I have been expressing myself and produced the same type of snooker I played when I was 14 or 15. Now it’s about my legacy and leaving a mark on the game. Not so much in terms of titles, but in the way that I play. I like to think I’ve played snooker that no one else has.

“Neil is like RoboCop. I watched him throughout the UK Championship and he never showed any emotion. He’s like Steve Davis or Stephen Hendry in that respect. I’m really looking forward to tomorrow.” (source Worldsnooker)

He also took the opportunity to announce new exhibitions, in Romania and China, both in his press conference and on twitter shortly afterwards.

Ronnie O’Sullivan@ronnieo147

Thanks for all your support this week. Amazing fans. Coming to Romania with Adrian Theiss on 2/3 April and also 6 city tour of China in May

A great piece of journalism by Desmond Kane

Eurosport journalist Desmond Kane about the importance of being Ronnie O’Sullivan … enjoy!

The importance of being Ronnie O’Sullivan

By Desmond Kane

Published on 19/02/2016 at 22:36

The 147 that never was should not detract from Ronnie O’Sullivan’s ongoing and outstanding contribution to snooker, writes Desmond Kane.

Maximum effort for minimum coverage. Ding Junhui, a genuine sporting icon in China, departed Cardiff last night rejoicing in compiling a sixth immaculate maximum break of his career at the Welsh Open despite suffering a 5-2 loss to Neil Robertson in the quarter-finals. Yet there is no chance such a heroic feat, the 117th 147 in competitive snooker since 1982, will command the level of coverage it deserves in the part of the world from whence it came.

Not in the hills and valleys, not in the green and pleasant lands surrounding it and certainly not in Blighty’s world of print journalism suffering from large dollops of football overkill. Back in China, where they are buying up footballers like real estate in London this weather, Ding’s achievement is unlikely to be given such short shrift. He regularly attracts TV audiences of 110m to watch his matches in Asia.

Ding could probably have polished off the colours wearing a blindfold to conclude the maximum and would toil to make four paragraphs in your average national daily in these parts when some two-bit footballer is nursing a groin injury.

For Ronnie O’Sullivan, attention spans differ. He opts to run in 146 instead of 147 and the ‘Rocket’ is suddenly given more space than Tim Peake.

When you have time to stop and think about what O’Sullivan pulled off in Cardiff, you can only admire his bloody single mindedness, a prerequisite in a sport where it is only you against the unforgiving roll of snooker balls. As his sport’s main protagonist, he is oblivious, instinctive and unpredictable yet more importantly of all in the great public relations sell: believable.

Snooker is largely dead to the sunset industry of newspapers, but it is a sport that will outlast dailies. The print edition of The Independent has already departed.

When England won the Ashes in 2005 and cricket was broadcast by terrestrial television on Channel 4, eight sessions of snooker over the year attracted a larger audience than the peak viewing figures at any point during that Ashes series. It remains one of Britain’s most watched sports yet it seems only Ronnie registers with some.

One opinion piece stated that O’Sullivan should retire if he can’t treat the game with more respect while accusing snooker of indulging O’Sullivan. If snooker can’t indulge its greatest player, there is something wrong with snooker. O’Sullivan brings a narrative and a soap opera to snooker that adds an element of intrigue that is cherished beyond the sport.

Another organ suggested Ronnie is all that snooker has got. Both points of view are fairly bogus, not in keeping with the greater truth: snooker is brimming with characters and personalities. They may not be Ronnie O’Sullivan, but they are as fascinating as footballers, tennis players or darts players.

Mark Selby did little wrong in losing 5-1 to O’Sullivan in their quarter-final on Friday. He is a terrific character, a working class hero who was forced to fend for himself when his mum walked out and his father died of cancer in his teens. He battled adversity to become a world champion by the age of 30.

Unless you are throwing frames. there is no level of publicity that snooker should not welcome. Unwittingly, O’Sullivan continues to encourage people to watch what remains a truly glorious sport even when he doesn’t mean to. I think, therefore I am, said the French philosopher Rene Descartes. Or was it Silvino Francisco?

It is fair to say that Ronnie was not thinking much beyond what his dinner or next running route might be during his match with Barry Pinches on Monday when it occurred to him that he was on for the 14th competitive maximum of a career that remarkably shows genuine signs of improvement at the age of 40.

When the break had reached the 80 mark and O’Sullivan discovered there was “only” £12,000 on the table for the maximum, Ronnie, a labour supporter, decided to withdraw his labour from his table.

Instead of opting to proceed with the 147, O’Sullivan was smiling as he ran in a 146. It was reported by some like he had staged a dirty protest, portrayed as act of treachery when it was merely mischievous, not Machiavellian.

“I knew it was £10,000. I could have done it, but I didn’t think the prize was worthy of a 147. So I’ve tried to let it build up until it’s worthy and then go for it,” he said.

“It’s like going into a Mercedes garage and when they say that you can have the car for £3,000, you reply, ‘No way, that’s too cheap. I’m not buying it for that’.”

People just love to be offended these days. There was an immediate stampede to pore in with a false moral outrage about why O’Sullivan had failed to make the 147. Why couldn’t he have earned the dosh and handed it over to charity? Fellow player Ali Carter, who has fought gamely against cancer and Crohn’s disease, accused O’Sullivan of selfishness. Well, sometimes charity has to begin at home.

It was asked if such a sum did not matter to O’Sullivan then he would not miss handing over 12 grand to charity out of his own pocket. Perhaps he should have, perhaps he has. How do we know how much Ronnie gives to charity? That is own personal business. In the world of snooker, O’Sullivan remains pure showbusiness.

Barry Hearn was immediately critical before the World Snooker chairman got with the programme in realising how much publicity O’Sullivan had attracted for the sport. He is a snooker player, not a fund raiser.

“Some have said he has brought the game into disrepute but Ronnie brings the game into fine repute,” said Hearn. “In his little head, he thought it would be funny. He is quite dry. The 147 is the pinnacle but Ronnie has made loads of them, he has got loads of money.

“He is the biggest character in the sport. When he breaks the rules, he gets punished; in this case, it was his choice. Without personality and characters, sport dies. O’Sullivan is the biggest character in the sport.”

Having worked with Ronnie on his blog over the past two years, this onlooker can tell you what you see is what you get. He is not trying to be somebody he is not. Whether people like him, or don’t like him doesn’t matter. Nor should it. He says it as it is. He also loves a touch of theatre hence the decision to make the 146, which should be noted was every bit as good as going one point better.

People are only as nice as the mood you find them in. O’Sullivan’s mood changes with the weather, but that is what keeps the public engrossed. You never know what you are going to get. Always leave them wanting more is the great trick O’Sullivan has unwittingly mastered. Predictability is boring.

What is a shame is that the 146 has been allowed to overshadow the brilliance of his output over the past few days in Wales.

He is arguably playing at a higher level, and striking the ball better than when he lifted five world titles if that is believable. Ahead of his semi-final against Joe Perry on Saturday, he has already ran in seven centuries in winning 21 frames.

Like Roger Federer in tennis, Lionel Messi in football. Sachin Tendulkar in cricket or Tiger Woods in golf, there is an expectation level on Ronnie to carry the good name of snooker beyond the sport. O’Sullivan continues to deliver more than he receives from snooker.

We should appreciate such a once in a generation talent while he can still deliver a straight cue with such artistry. Millions will miss him when he’s gone.

In a week when ‘only” £12,000 caused such wailing and gnashing of teeth, O’Sullivan remains priceless.

Day 5 in Cardiff – strolls, 147 and emotional mayhem

Quarter finals day in Cardiff promised to be enthralling and didn’t disappoint.

It started mildly though with Ronnie on twitter engaging with the fans about how to kill boredom, visiting Cardiff markets, diet and fitness …

Then came match time, and the afternoon session delivered two high quality matches.

Neil Robertson was imperious in beating Ding Junhui by 5-2, but somehow Ding stole the show … with a marvelous 147:

2016 Welsh Open: Ding Junhui 147 – Neil Robertson

Next came Ronnie v Mark Selby, that ended in a 5-1 win for the Rocket. The turning point of the match was frame three, when Ronnie went for a maximum, missed a black at 57, sending it safe, and Mark looked certain to take the frame only to miscalculate and realising too late he needed that black. A black ball game ensued, Ronnie won it and the rest is history.

All this triggered a bit of stir in the media room as Hector Nunns explains, much better than I could,  on inside-snooker:

DING 147 EARNS HIM FRIENDLY REBUKE FROM O’SULLIVAN

Hector Nunns February 19, 2016

Ronnie O’Sullivan and Ding Junhui may have been in different quarter-finals – but the fates brought their stories together on Friday afternoon.

It was almost inevitable after O’Sullivan’s snubbing of a 147 maximum break chance on Monday, and all the resulting publicity, that someone else would make one at the BetVictor Welsh Open.

The script was too perfect, the narrative possibilities just too endless for that not to happen. In the end it was Ding making the sixth of his career, albeit in a losing cause against Neil Robertson.

O’Sullivan, who made surprisingly quick work of despatching world No1 Mark Selby 5-1, is a long-time admirer of Ding, one of few players he bothers to watch on TV (or at least, when not being paid as a pundit to do so).

But although the comments were made with a smile and a dose of good humour, the three-time Welsh Open winner appeared mildly irked by Ding’s undermining of his public stance and protest.

O’Sullivan said: “Ding has really let the lads down there, I’m very disappointed with him – and I’ll have to have a few words over his 147! I said I would shake the hand of anyone who did – but I lied.

“I have done brilliant for this tournament, probably most people didn’t know it was on before this week. It would cost the sport a few quid to buy the headlines and I have played decent snooker.

“This week has been hard work, the pressure of playing top players every day – I feel like I have been fighting Mike Tyson every day.”

Ding, ironically snooker’s biggest earner from huge sponsorship deals in China, took something of a pot shot back at O’Sullivan.

He said: “I heard someone offered Ronnie £61,000 if he made one – but it is not about the money for me. It is about history, records and making 147 breaks.”

The obvious additional point to make here was that if O’Sullivan was attempting, however good-naturedly, to claim that Ding was in some way ‘strike-breaking’, there was a clear problem.

And this was that the solidarity O’Sullivan was hinting at was in fact restricted to a group of one – him. No other player would have passed up the chance of a £12,000 payout on a maximum as he did on Monday.

If Ding was doing the equivalent of crossing a picket line, never a good idea in south Wales at the best of times, then it was past O’Sullivan all on his own at the gates.

O’Sullivan ruthlessly took advantage of a Selby blunder in frame three with the match level at 1-1, the Leicester Jester miscounting when clearing up and forgetting he still needed the final black.

Selby, 32, said: “The third frame was a big turning point, I just miscounted on the clearance thinking I only needed the pink whatever colours I was taking.

“And even after that I could have moved the black from the brown if I had realised. It is one of those things, I haven’t done that many times.

“I don’t think I need to go back to school for maths lessons, but in the heat of the moment I wasn’t expecting the chance and forgot myself.

“But he played really well and has been all week. I have obviously done something to upset him, he has played at the same level against me as he did at last month’s Masters.”

O’Sullivan will play Joe Perry in Saturday’s semi-final after he beat last year’s runner-up Ben Woollaston 5-1.

Robertson, who now plays Mark Allen, could not have been less shaken by Ding’s 147 in frame six that closed the gap to 4-2 – winning the match in the next frame.

Ronnie who is no stranger to contraction then went on to celebrate with a (healthy?) kebab and some tweeting whilst watching the evening snooker on his tablet …

RonnieKebap

 

The evening matches were not of the same stellar standard but the Mark Allen 5-0 win over Michael White certainly brought it’s share of emotions …
Again I’ll leave it to Hector to explain it all:

ANGRY PLAYERS LET RIP – BUT ALLEN BEATS WHITE

Hector Nunns February 19, 2016

Mark Allen started his BetVictor Welsh Open quarter-final in angry mood – but it was beaten opponent Michael White that was himself left fuming at the end.

The 29-year-old Allen will now take on former world champion Neil Robertson in Saturday’s semi-final at the Motorpoint Arena in Cardiff.

And the world No9 from Antrim, enraged by a comment on TV from legend Steve Davis before his 5-0 win, took it out on White. Davis had suggested that Allen was “more Championship than Premiership”.

After a pivotal second frame that saw Allen hit back from needing a snooker after White unluckily fouled the pink and left a free ball, the Northern Irishman clenched his teeth and pumped his fist.

World No17 White, 24, later admitted the triumphalist behaviour left him seething given it was not Allen’s good play but some good fortune that saw him go 2-0 up.

Allen said: “The fist pump was part of the gameplan, as was not apologising for some good running in the next frame. I thought it might get to him.

“He was playing in a big match in front of his home Welsh crowd, I have done the same in Northern Ireland and you are under a lot more pressure.

“I tried to get him more frustrated, and when he smashed the reds in frame three I knew I had him. He is such a good player, I needed a game plan to contain him.

“If he said afterwards that he won’t forget the fist pump next time we play that’s fine – but it shows my game plan worked. It is exactly what I wanted to happen, add more pressure.

“I got a lot of criticism today, a few things I saw and read that really spurred me on. Fellow professionals were criticising me for my style of play and all sorts.

“Steve Davis made a comment. Shaun Murphy made a comment, but I know him well and we have had a chat about it privately, I sort of know where he was coming from.

“Some of these comments were very derogatory and I said to my coach Terry Griffiths I couldn’t wait to get out there.

“I have only won two major ranking events, it is very disappointing, but altogether I have won eight events as a pro which not many can say. They are the same fields.

“Neil has beaten me a few times in big events, and tonight’s plan won’t work on him as he is far too experienced so I will have to be somewhere near my best.

“He is flying, won the UK and the Champion of Champions, and the player of the season to date but there are only four left now and I can beat him.”

White said: “I would like to apologise to all the people from Wales who came to support me tonight. After the way I lost the second frame I lost it for a while.

“I didn’t like the fist pump, really because of the way he won the frame. It wasn’t his good play, I have been very unlucky to knock in the pink and leave a free ball.

“It is something I won’t forget for a long time, certainly when I play him again next time.”

 

The last match of the day saw a quiet 5-1 win from Joe Perry over last year finalist Ben Woollaston. The match was in fact closer than the score suggests, but Joe, albeit not spectacular, was very efficient in punishing Ben’s mistakes.

This leaves us with a semi finals line-up to savour: four top ten players in best of 11…

All the results and statistics are available on cuetracker.net . Thank you Ron Florax.

And if you love snooker and want to read about it from a slightly different angle then follow Hector Nunns on inside-snooker.