UK Championship 2016 – Contrasting Semis

Semi Finals Saturday in York, in a marvelous one table setup …

pictures posted on twitter by BBC

and we couldn’t have got more contrasting matches. Mark Selby totally outplayed his opponent, Shaun Murphy, whilst Ronnie very nearly went out by 6-4 to Marco Fu, before taking advantage of a missed final green to force a decider, that he then wznt on to win  with a stunning 130. Ronnie later said tha he somehow felt “gutted” for Marco who had been the better player and is a lovely man.

Worldsnooker official report on the Selby v Murphy semi final

Saturday 3 Dec 2016 05:32PM

Mark Selby reached the final of the Betway UK Championship with a 6-2 defeat of Shaun Murphy to remain on course to become only the sixth player to win snooker’s two biggest ranking titles in the same year.

Leicester’s Selby outplayed his close friend Murphy in York and, having conquered the Crucible in May, is just one win away from following Steve Davis, Stephen Hendry, John Parrott, John Higgins and Ronnie O’Sullivan as the only players to win the World and UK titles in the same year.

On Sunday he will face either Ronnie O’Sullivan or Marco Fu, with first to ten frames to take the trophy and £170,000 top prize. Victory would also make Selby the sixth player to win all three Triple Crown events on multiple occasions, following Davis, Hendry, Higgins, O’Sullivan and Mark Williams.

Murphy took the opening frame today with a break of 99 before world number one Selby hit back with 55 and 83 to take the next two. Frame four came down to the colours and Selby got the better of a safety battle on the green before clearing to the pink to lead 3-1 at the interval.

The next two frames were shared, then Selby crucially won the seventh with a colours clearance to lead 5-2. A run of 51 put him in charge of the next frame, and although he missed a red to a top corner with the winning line close, he got another chance after a weak safety from Murphy on the penultimate red. This time Selby made no mistake as he reached his third UK final in five year, having beaten Murphy in the 2012 final then lost to Neil Robertson in 2013.

I played well after the interval, I shut Shaun out and scored well,” said Selby, who has already won three ranking events in the past seven months – the World Championship, Paul Hunter Classic and International Championship. “To be one of the elite players to win the World and UK in the same year would be fantastic.

It’s a great feeling to be back in the final here although if I lose tomorrow I will be devastated. If I play Ronnie then the atmosphere will be fantastic, although it will probably only be (wife) Vikki and (daughter) Sofia cheering me on. But there’s no guarantee he will beat Marco tonight.

Worldsnooker official report on the Ronnie v Marco Fu Semi Final

Saturday 3 Dec 2016 11:42PM

Ronnie O’Sullivan survived a huge scare to book his place in a sixth Betway UK Championship final with a 6-5 win against Marco Fu at the Barbican Centre this evening.

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The ‘Rocket’ will be looking to maintain his 100% record in UK finals when he plays world number one Mark Selby tomorrow and if he can win the title will equal Steve Davis’ record of six UK crowns. First to ten frames will take the £170,000 top prize.

O’Sullivan will also be aiming for his 29th career ranking title which would put him ahead of Davis and John Higgins, though still well behind Stephen Hendry’s record of 36.

The first two frames of the match were shared, before O’Sullivan took a 3-1 lead at the mid-session interval with breaks of 76 and 54. Fu hit back with a century break after the interval, before O’Sullivan responded with 58 for 4-2.

Back though came Fu, capitalising on uncharacteristic misses from the world number eight with breaks of 85 and 59, before he stole the ninth frame on the black to move to within a frame of his reaching second UK Championship final  and first since 2008.

A strong safety shot on the final red looked to have set up a match-clinching chance for Fu, but a missed green with the rest would ultimately prove costly. O’Sullivan cleared the table for 5-5 then dominated the decider with a stunning break of 130 to seal victory.

You just find something sometimes, you have to,” said O’Sullivan, who will be looking to win his first ranking title since the Welsh Open in February. “I tried the whole match. I stayed focused, I stayed professional, I didn’t beat myself up. I did everything that was in my control to do but just sometimes it’s either there or it’s not there and I just had to grind it out.

“I’ll be underdog going into this match [tomorrow’s final against Mark Selby] which is probably the first time in a long time that I will be going into the final and not being the favourite. I’d much rather be the favourite, I don’t mind that pressure, I enjoy that. But I will just have to go out there and do what I did tonight. Stay professional and stay patient.

I was a little bit nervous,” said Fu. “The yellow I was slightly the wrong side. I tried to go off two cushions for the green, but I just nudged the blue otherwise I would have been perfect and the rest shot I just twitched a little bit under pressure.

“I tried my best, I played quite well and put him under pressure but at the end of the day it was still not quite good enough. But I’m happy that I am playing well again. I have had a tough season and I was just trying to find a bit of form. Ronnie was just too good on the day.

All you need to watch about the Ronnie v Marco Fu match

The ES pundits preview before the Ronnie v Marco match:

The match itself:

The ES pundits analysis after the match:

Ronnie’s postmatch interview with Rob Walker:

So what to expect for today’s Final? 

Well, if I’m honest, I have to make Selby favourite. He played the better of the two, especially in the QF and SF and he will be fresher too. He’s got a shorter match, in the afternoon, whilst Ronnie’s match was harder, longer, with a late finish, and Ronnie almost certainly had to record some piece with the BBC afterwards too, for today’s head of the show. I would be very surprised if he was in bed before 2 am, and would still be full of adrenaline at that stage given the way the match went. But on the other hand, every day is different and this time the pressure of being the favourite will be on Selby. So, who knows?

Let’s just try to enjoy it and hope for a good match, they will both try theit hearts out there I’m sure.

Also, Ronnie did what he had to do this week already: he secured his top 16 spot. He’s up to 12th in the provisional seedings, up to 11th in the provisional end of season rankings and 5th in the one season list. All this means that he’s in a very good position to qualify for the World Grand Prix 2017 and the Players Championship 2017 – both lucative ranking events with good prize money garanteed from round 1 on – as well as to avoid the need to qualify for the Crucible.