Masters 2017 – Day 4 as it happened

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If the Judd Trump v Marco Fu match was fantastic on day 3, the Mark Selby v Mark Williams one was even more extraordinary yesterday. Mark Williams was trailing 3-1 after the MSI and Mark Selby was looking unstoppable and then … “Willo” showed the world how the Jester can be derailed from his winning tracks. It was an incredibly tactical performance, messing up the table and breaking the rythm. At a point the commentators on BBC were about “doing a Selby on Selby”.  It almost worked. It was clear at a point that Selby had lost his confidence, partially at least. And then, Williams in the balls in the decider had a terrible kick on a blue that took the ball out of it’s intended path, missed, and credits must be given to Selby for the way he got himself together to clinch the match with a remarkable 89.

The second match on the day was the total opposite, it was about as one-sided as one-sided can be. My dark horse Barry Hawkins absolutely trashed a totally out-of-sorts Shaun Murphy.

Here is the Selby v Williams match report on Worldsnooker:

Wednesday 18 Jan 2017 05:58PM

Mark Selby won an enthralling match 6-5 against Mark Williams in the first round of the Dafabet Masters to boost his hopes of holding all three Triple Crown titles simultaneously.

Once again the Alexandra Palace crowd was treated to a dramatic conclusion as this was the fourth consecutive afternoon match to go down to a decider. And Selby, renowned for his calmness under pressure, made a brilliant clearance having benefited from a stroke of bad luck for Williams who got a kick at a crucial moment in the last frame.

World number one Selby goes through to the quarter-finals to face Shaun Murphy or Barry Hawkins on Friday afternoon (tickets still available – click here for details).

And having won the World Championship in May and the UK Championship in December, Leicester’s Selby is looking to become the first player to have all three Triple Crown trophies on his mantelpiece since Williams himself won all three in the same season in 2002/03.

Welshman Williams won the opening frame with a break of 65 before Selby hit back with 139 – the new target for the £10,000 high break prize – 62 and 109 to lead 3-1. After the interval, Williams battled back to 3-3 and he had a chance to win frame seven but missed the final green, allowing Selby to clear and regain the lead.

A run of 50 gave Williams frame eight and again he had to chance to edge ahead, but missed the brown with the rest late in frame nine, letting Selby clear to go 5-4 up.

Breaks of 53 and 58 from Williams set up the decider, and he had first chance but made just 20 before suffering a kick when attempting to pot the blue to a baulk corner. It missed its target and that proved his last shot as Selby’s clinical 89 saw him home.

“When Mark got that chance in the last frame, I just thought I was going out,” said Selby. “I didn’t expect him to miss and if it wasn’t for the kick, I don’t think he would have done.

“Sometimes this season Mark’s played some great stuff and been back to his best in patches. I knew it was going to be a tough game and it turned out to be.

“I know how hard this tournament is to win. Every match you play is worthy of being a final. At 5-5 when he was in the balls I was thinking, there goes my ‘slam’ but thankfully enough I got a chance, so it’s still on.

“It’s got to be up there with one of my best breaks to win a match. Under the circumstances it was very pleasing.

“It would be an unbelievable feat to hold all three majors, in this day and age where the standard is. I’m still in the tournament now, so hopefully I can kick on and come Sunday I might be in there with a chance to do that. It’d probably be the greatest achievement of my career.”

Williams said: “He played fantastic and that’s why he’s world number one. He’s just class on and off the table. You can’t have a better player to represent our sport.

“I think the others like Ding, Trump and Robertson are excellent players, but they’re not in Mark’s league. He’s just miles above them and he could be number one in any era, he’s got everything.”

This is how Mark Williams started his fight back:

You can find the whole match on youtube, it’s worth it!

And the Murphy v Hawkins match report on Worldsnooker:

Wednesday 18 Jan 2017 10:16PM

Last year’s runner-up Barry Hawkins crushed Shaun Murphy 6-1 in the first round of the Dafabet Masters at Alexandra Palace.

Murphy won this title two years ago but was barely in the match this time as his opponent dominated and stormed into the quarter-finals. In-form Hawkins, who won  a group in the Championship League last week, goes through to face Mark Selby on Friday afternoon (tickets still available – click here for details).

World number 12 Hawkins clearly enjoys playing at this venue as he enjoyed a superb run to the final last year – albeit one which ended with a 10-1 defeat against Ronnie O’Sullivan.

Londoner Hawkins won a scrappy opening frame tonight then took the second with a break of 79. Murphy had a chance to win the third from 64-0 down, but missed a tough last red to a baulk corner on 36, and that proved costly as his opponent went 3-0 ahead.

Lett-hander Hawkins made smooth runs of 89 and 85 to extend his lead to 5-0. Murphy pulled one back with a thumping long pot on the final pink in frame six. But his hopes of a fight back were soon quashed as Hawkins secured victory in the next with a break of 50.

“I’m really pleased with that,” said Hawkins. “I played well throughout the match, and didn’t give Shaun any easy chances. He missed a couple which is uncharacteristic but overall, I got off to a good start and got him on the back foot straight away.

“I was expecting a tough game. Shaun’s a great player, but to beat him 6-1 at the Masters is a great result. I didn’t see that coming. I knew I was playing ok so I knew if I got off to a good start and played some good safety then I’d get some opportunities.

“I wasn’t thinking about last year coming in. You just turn up wanting to play well and hopefully have another good run because it’s such a good tournament to be involved in. It’s pride in performance, you want to put on a good show. People are paying money to come and see you so you want to play well.

“It doesn’t get any easier playing Mark Selby. He’s full of confidence, the best player in the world at the moment. When I come out and play him on Friday, I’m going to have to be on top of my game again. I’ll need an inspired performance. It’s a massive occasion for me and I’m looking forward to it.”