The last 32 round of the World Championship 2016 concluded yesterday and it’s fair to say that it already brought its fair share of surprises.
For the first time ever under the current format, both last year finalists went out in the last 32, Stuart Bingham losing by 10-9 to Ali Carter, and Shaun Murphy being beaten 10-8 by Anthony McGill. Shaun had put an an end to Anthony’s brilliant debut last year in the QF … sweet revenge?
But that’s not all.
Neil Robertson, seen by many as one of the hot favourites for the title was beaten, fair and square, by a brilliant and mentally solid Michael Holt.
Alan McManus got the better of Stephen Maguire, who had just squeezed in the top 16 by reaching the SF in the China Open. It’s been a while since Maguire managed to win a match at the Crucible.
Ding Junhui of course is a qualifier but everyone knew how dangerous he could be, and he proved it by sending Martin Gould home, on a 10-8 score. To be fair to both players, this was an excellent match.
Sam Baird saw off Michael White, who later revealed that he was suffering from depression.
Finally Kyren Wilson – who Ronnie tipped to become a great of the game – beat Joe Perry by 10-9 in another high quality encounter.
So that makes it 7 qualifiers through to the last 16 … so much for Peter Ebdon’s prediction that they would be too tired to compete. In fact many of them appeared match sharp and putting a lot of pressure on their seed opponent who came here cold and without any ranking points in case of defeat.
Among the seeds, Judd Trump, Ronnie and Ricky Walden were really made to work.
Judd looked in big danger after the first session, trailing 6-3, but he fought back and somehow, after he won frame 12, to trail only 7-5, his opponent Liang Wenbo completely lost his way whilst Judd grew in confidence and started playing the way he can.
Ronnie was never behind but David Gilbert played extremely well and managed to put him under pressure. Towards the end of the match Ronnie was showing signs of frustration and anxiety. But he hold it together. The after-match is another story …
Ricky Walden eventually came out the winner of a turgid affair against Robbie Williams. I think both players were happy it was over, and so was the audience most certainly.
The other seeds, Mark Allen, Barry Hawkins, Marco Fu, John Higgins, Mark Williams and Mark Selby had an easy passage. Marco Fu and John Higgins in particular looked sharp and at ease, whilst Barry Hawkins and Mark Selby looked vulnerable despite a comfortable winning score.
Marco Fu, by the way, is already though to the quarter finals, having beaten Anthony Mc Gill by 13-9 tonight, and he will be Ronnie’s opponent, if Ronnie progresses.
All detailed results are on cuetracker.net