Day 4 in Belfast saw the last 32 and the last 16 played to their conclusion, and, as the quarter-finals are scheduled to be completed today, Mark Allen, ranked 10, is the highest-ranked player remaining in the tournament. I can’t remember the last time a quarter-final stage featured none of the top 8.
A lot of things happened on the day, so, where shall I start?
This proves to be a good tournament for the young and the rookies. Yan Bingtao (still only 16), Scott Donaldson, and Hossein Vafaei Ayouri all reached the last 16, and Hossein is in the quarters where he will face a veteran, Mark King. This means that all three have already put themselves in a good position to retain their professional status. Yan, in particular, has an impressive run this season: this was his 4th last 16 already.
Speaking of veterans, Mark King, Anthony Hamilton, and Mark Williams are also in the quarters. “Willo”, whose last title came in 2011, said that he feels that he can win again. I’d love that. Hamilton, one of the best breakbuilders on the tour, has never been in the top 16 and could lose his tour card at the end of the season, but this run gives him a very good chance to secure his professional status.
So, what happened to the favourites?
John Higgins’ impressive run came to an end at the hands of Mark Williams. In a way, despite the 147, I saw it coming already on Wednesday: he had made a few uncharacteristic mistakes that weren’t punished. It was confirmed yesterday. The 4-0 win over Zhou Youelong was a bit misleading, Zhou was totally off his game and never really challenged Higgins. But Mark Williams wasn’t going to be intimidated, they are the same class, the class of 92, and he duly inflicted an out-of-sorts John Higgins damning 4-1 beating
Ronnie went out as well, beaten by Kyren Wilson, but this was a completely different story altogether. Ronnie had played very well in the last 32, against Zhang Anda.
Here is the match:
And here is what he had to say to the pundits on Eurosport after that win. I had noticed how often he was checking his tip during the match and wondered if something was wrong; in fact, it’s a new one and he isn’t fully used to it yet.
In the last 16, he played Kyren Wilson, who he had interviewed on his show last season after Kyren won his first ranking title: the Shanghai Masters 2015. In short, Kyren ran to a 3-0 lead, aided by a deadly long potting and a solid breakbuilding. With his back against the wall, Ronnie went out all attack and knocked in 3 centuries in the next three frames to level the match. But it was Kyren who took the deciding frame, in one winning visit, after Ronnie missed a mid-long pot. I asked this question to the official “anorak”, Matt Huart: “Did anyone before lose a best of 7, whilst making 3 tons?”. Apparently not, so it seems it’s a new record, but surely not one that Ronnie wanted. Now, in a best of 9, Mark Williams made 4 centuries and a 53 and still lost a match in the China Open in 2011…
Here is the official report by Worldsnooker.
Friday 18 Nov 2016 01:01AM
A sublime display from Kyren Wilson saw him defeat tournament favourite Ronnie O’Sullivan in the match of the tournament so far at the Coral Northern Ireland Open.
It was their first meeting in professional competition and they produced a fantastic spectacle in front of an enthralled Titanic Exhibition Centre crowd in Belfast.
It was apparent from the off that the 2015 Shanghai Masters Champion Wilson was going to go for his shots. Despite not making any contributions over 40 in the opening frames, the Warrior sunk several fearless long reds to go 2-0 in front. A run of 63 in the third saw him speed into a surprise 3-0 lead and it looked like it was going to be a quick evening’s work before the Rocket hit back.
The five-time World Champion deposited a sublime long red with the white close to the top cushion in the fourth frame. That was the catalyst for a thunderous comeback. O’Sullivan went on to compile a run of 107 from it in just over six minutes. The Rocket wasted little time in restoring parity at 3-3 thanks to two further centuries, 108 and 117.
It looked as if the momentum lay with O’Sullivan, however it was Wilson who managed to hold himself together in the final frame. A steely break of 70 secured a 4-3 win and a quarter-final clash with Mark Williams.
“I’ve felt good all week really,” said Wilson. “I just thought that we brought out the best in each other there. I was pleased to come out the winner, even if he did make three centuries.”
Mark Williams earned his quarter-final spot by ending the 11 match winning streak of John Higgins. The two-time World Champion closed out the game from 2-1 in front courtesy of consecutive breaks of 67.
Williams said: “A couple of those matches in his 11 wins in a row were against me. I said before the game I was very unlucky not to win one of them if not both of them. I was pleased to get one back on him today.”
Mark Allen came through a tense late night battle with Gary Wilson. The home favourite came from 2-0 down to secure his place in the last eight with a narrow 4-3 victory.
His opponent in the last eight will be Anthony Hamilton who edged out Chinese 16-year-old Yan Bingtao 4-3
Hossein Vafaei Ayouri reached his first ever ranking event quarter-final with a 4-2 defeat of Scott Donaldson. Ayouri, a former World Under-21 Champion, is the first ever professional player from Iran and he sealed the biggest win of his career this evening in Belfast. He opened up a 2-0 lead thanks to contributions of 53 and 75. It was a lead which he wouldn’t relinquish, running out a 4-2 winner. He faces Mark King next who booked his first quarter-final appearance of the season courtesy of a 4-2 win over Norway’s Kurt Maflin.
Barry Hawkins progressed to the quarter-final stage thanks to a 4-0 whitewash of Jack Lisowski. From 2-0 up the Hawk ruthlessly dismissed his opponent thanks to runs of 79 and 117. He faces Michael White tomorrow who saw off fellow Welshman Dominic Dale 4-2.
And here is the match:
Ronnie was obviously disappointed to lose, and he could do with the ranking points too, but he now has a few days to prepare for the all-important UK Championship that starts next week.