Yesterday saw all the last 64 round matches of the European Masters played to conclusion except the two that are held-over. There were less shocks than in the previous round and, in the end, those are the top 16 players who will be in Bucharest next week: Mark Selby, Ronnie, Barry Hawkins, Ricky Walden, John Higgins, Marco Fu, Judd Trump, Shaun Murphy, Neil Robertson, Mark Allen and Ali Carter. So that’s 11 of them.
Probably the biggest surprise was Scot Donaldson beating Stuart Bingham 4-3 from 3-2 down. I have absolutely nothing against Stuart but I’m very pleased for young Scot and would really like to see him come to age this season.
The highlight of the day was Shaun Murphy’s 147, his 5th. It came in frame 2 of his match against Alan Taylor. Michael Holt, who is definitely playing very well at the moment, was also on course for one, but missed at 104.
You can watch Murphy’s 147 here
Both Ronnie and Mark Selby came on social media expressing their satisfaction to be Bucharest bound. This is what Ronnie said on Facebook:
Pleased to qualify for Romania, will be a great event out there. Great fans, great venue and great friends organising it
So having a day off, Ronnie took the opportunity to promote the Home Series on Eurosport. Himself and Jimmy White were interviewed. Again this is what Ronnie put on facebook:
Doing some promotion for the home nations series with jimbo this morning. Eurosport
Regarding the Home Nations Series, Worldsnooker is taking the opportunity to honour some of the greatest players of the past: the English Open trophy will be named after Steve Davis, the Northern Ireland Trophy will honour Alex Higgins, and the Welsh Open Trophy will bear Ray Reardon‘s name. Ray of course was Ronnie’s coach and mentor when he won his 2004 World title and the two remain excellent friends.
Today will see the start of the last 128 qualifying round of the International Championship and Ronnie plays James Cahill tonight in a best of 11. It won’t be an easy match! The funny thing about the poster for this qualifying event is that it features three players who aren’t in it! Indeed Ding, Selby and Higgins all have their matches held over being China n°1, World Champion and Defending Champion respectively …
Ronnie of course needs to play more this season as he will try to avoid to have to qualify for the Crucible. He’s taking this very seriously as those tweets by Jason Francis prove:
to help Ronnie concentrate on the tournaments our show in gosport on 4th Nov has been moved to Sunday 7th may. Gosport pool arena. Apologies
Also our show at Victoria snooker centre on Jan 13th has been moved to Saturday 6th may. Apologies for the change
But the Eleven30 matches against Mark Selby this week-end in Bulgaria are definitely on! Ronnie said in his last radio show a few weeks back that what he expected from these was good competitive snooker.