Scottish Open 2016 – QF round-up

We only have four players standing and surely not all of them were expected to still be live in the tournament at this stage: John Higgins, Judd Trump, Marco Fu and … Yu Delu!

Read here Worldsnooker reports on the QF day and how we got here:

Afternoon session:

Friday 16 Dec 2016 03:18PM

John Higgins outplayed Ronnie O’Sullivan in a battle of two of snooker’s all-time greats, winning 5-2 to book a semi-final spot at the Coral Scottish Open.

Home favourite Higgins is now just two wins away from claiming the 29th world ranking title of his career, which would put him ahead of Steve Davis and O’Sullivan on the all-time list, behind only Stephen Hendry.

If Wishaw’s 41-year-old Higgins does go on to take the title and £70,000 top prize in Glasgow it would also be his third piece of silverware in the past six weeks having won the China Championship and Champion of Champions. His next opponent in the semi-finals at 1pm on Saturday will be Judd Trump (tickets still available, click here for details) who beat Robert Milkins 5-3.

Higgins took a scrappy opening frame today then went 2-0 up with a break of 88. He dominated the third as well and might have gone 4-0 ahead but missed the final green with the rest late in the fourth. In the end it came down to a safety battle on the pink and O’Sullivan doubled it to a centre pocket to raise hopes of a fight-back.

But after the interval Higgins regained control, getting the better of a fragmented fifth to lead 4-1. O’Sullivan made 41 in the next before missing the black off its spot, but he got another chance and added 37 to pull one back. In frame seven, Higgins made 28 before running out of position, but a missed long red from O’Sullivan proved his last shot as his opponent finished in style with a run of 104.

Any time you beat Ronnie it’s a special result, even though he didn’t play anywhere near his best,” said world number three Higgins. “He gave me a few chances too many. It will be another tough game whoever I play tomorrow. It’s great to be able to play here in front of my friends and family.”

O’Sullivan said: “John played really well, his all round game was strong. He’s a class act and very difficult to break down. You always have to feel you can get back into it otherwise there’s no point, but when he’s playing like that he’ll win a lot of tournaments. I’ve had a fantastic week and really enjoyed it. I love my Eurosport work and it means I can’t always prepare as well and focus on tournaments, but it’s the best option for me.”

Trump beat 5-1 Higgins when they met in the quarter-finals of the Coral English Open two months ago and will hope for another victory tomorrow as he chases his third ranking title of 2016.

The 27-year-old from Bristol shared the first six frames against Milkins, with a 58 from Trump in the third the highest break. Six-time ranking event winner Trump then dominated the seventh to go 4-3 ahead before sealing the result in the next with a run of 78.

I have scrapped through the last couple of rounds so it’s good to still be in the tournament,” said world number four Trump. “To play John in front of a big crowd tomorrow is the type of occasion I play snooker for. I think there will be a lot of breaks and high scoring tomorrow. John is probably the best in the world at the moment alongside Mark Selby. But I always fancy my chances when I play him.

Evening session:

Friday 16 Dec 2016 09:43PM

Marco Fu, the best player so far this week at the Coral Scottish Open, thrashed Mark Davis 5-1 to reach the semi-finals.

Hong Kong’s Fu has fired eight centuries and 12 more breaks over 50 in the 21 frames he has won so far in the tournament in Glasgow and will be hard to stop if he continues in the same vein over the weekend. He faces Yu Delu next, at 7pm on Saturday (tickets still available, click here for details).

World number 14 Fu had a poor start to the season but found his form at the recent UK Championship, reaching the semi-finals, and has continued his improvement this week. His first ranking title came in Scotland back in 2007 at the Grand Prix and he is now just two wins away from the third ranking crown of his career and the £70,000 first prize at the Emirates Arena.

In fact it was Sussex’s Davis who started strongly tonight with a break of 114 in the opening frame and he had chances in the second, but Fu won it on the colours. Breaks of 53 and 132 put Fu 3-1 up at the interval.

Davis had a chance to steal the fifth frame from 70-8 down, but missed a tough last red to a top corner on 29 and his opponent potted it to lead 4-1. In frame six, Davis made 62 before missing a red to a top corner with the rest. Fu clinched victory with a tremendous 67 clearance which included a double on the last red to a centre pocket.

I expected a tough match tonight, especially after Mark made a century in the first frame,” said 38-year-old Fu. “I just had to wait for my chances to get among the balls and score heavily, because that’s what I have been doing this week.

“I was really struggling going into the UK in York but then I found some form towards the end. I was able to bring that into the German Masters qualifiers last week and then kept it going in this tournament. After York it was very difficult to pick myself up because I came so close to beating Ronnie O’Sullivan in the semi-finals (losing 6-5). But I took a lot of positives because there’s no disgrace in losing to Ronnie and I played some good snooker.

“It’s always nice to be back in Scotland because I lived in Sterling for one year and I won my first ranking title in Aberdeen.  The fans love the sport here and Scotland is a special place for snooker.

Yu reached the first ranking event semi-final of his career by edging out Liang Wenbo 5-4 in a dramatic Chinese derby. Breaks of 53 and 56 helped world number 59 Yu race into a 3-0 lead, then Coral English Open champion Liang recovered to 3-3. Yu made a superb 76 clearance to win the seventh frame, then passed up a golden chance to secure victory in the eighth when he missed the final black off its spot, allowing Liang to pot it for 4-4.

But Yu bravely regained his composure in the deciding frame and took control with a break of 44, helped by a fluked blue. He added 17 points to leave his opponent needing a snooker, and Liang’s hopes eventually died when he accidentally knocked the pink in when trying to lay a snooker on the yellow.

Yu Delu is probably a bit of an unknown quantity for many of the readers of this piece so, here are is what you should know about him before the matches today:

tp_0300

Yu is managed by Grove, as are Judd Trump and Neil Robertson, and he is part of their stable for many years now. This is is first semi final in a full ranking event. He is 29 years old and a pro since 2011. His best ever ranking was 46, and he’s currently back to that level in the provisional seedings, having been in danger to drop off the tour this season. Yu may not be the more impressive or consistent player but he is extremely solid under pressure and that’s related to his slightly peculiar background: indeed he used to earn a living by playing big money matches in snooker halls in China. Not for the anxious!

Ok, then … so who will be lifting the Stephen Hendry Trophy tomorrow?

Here, for what it’s worth, is my “why X will win” bit:

Why John Higgins will win:

First of course, there is is pedigree, he’s one of tha all time greats. He’s playing on home turf, surrounded and supported by his family and he’s super motivated. He’s been extremely solid all week and he is surely feeling confidence. What could go wrong? if someone can put him under pressure and he starts to struggle, the home support with the expectations attached to it could be his undoing.

Why Judd Trump will win:

Judd has not been at his best in this tournament yet but he’s still in it and he’s got a goot record against John Higgins who is his opponent today: in fact he’s won 5 of the their last 7 encounters. So he will not be afraid of John, and he has the type of game that can derail the Scot. He will certainly not be dragged into playing the type of game John favours, he will stick to his own guns.

Why Marco Fu will win:

Marco has been the best player all week, he’s made 8 centuries and 12 more breaks over 50 in 21 frames he won. He’s holding the tournament high break too, in fact he’s holding 3 of the 4 highest breaks in this tournament currently. Marco when on form is rock solid, steady, methodical and extremely difficult to beat. He’s a tournament winner, and he has won in Scotland. He will fancy the job. Without jingles or bells, but deadly efficiently.

Why Yu will win:

Basically Yu has already exceeded every expectations anyone had on him, he’s rescued his season, he’s already earned his highest pay-day ever … he can afford to  go out, relax and enjoy the occasion and if he manages that, it will make him very dangerous.