Ronnie booked his place for the main event in Beijing by beating James Cahill by 5-3 in Preston yesterday evening. Just as I expected, it wasn’t a great performance, but he did the job and it’s all that matters. James Cahill was potting well and at 3-3 it was hard to call a winner. Ronnie’s breakbuilding was good but he couldn’t pot a long ball for his life … and splits didn’t work great for either of them.
Eventually, though, experience prevailed I suppose as James started missing more and Ronnie was able to win the last two frames. Here is the match:
Some shots to finish frame 3, where Ronnie made a 107, were pure exhibition!
I said in a previous post that it’s hard for the top players to stay fully committed in this qualifiers environment, just after playing in a prestigious event like the Masters. Both beaten semi-finalists at the Masters, Barry Hawkins, and Marco Fu were beaten in Preston. Stuart Bingham was taken to a decider by James Wattana but eventually won.
All boys on the poster will be in Beijing: Jimmy White continues his good season and managed to beat Sam Baird by 5-4.
There are more matches to be played today, but none involving any of the top 16 players. So 12 of them will be in Beijing: Mark Selby (World Champion), Judd Trump (Defending Champion), Ding Junhui and Liang Wenbo (China n°1 & 2) have their first-round matches held over. Neil Robertson and Mark Allen opted out. In Allen’s case, it may be related to the fact that his wife is expecting their first child and that he doesn’t want to be at the other side of the planet when she comes close to her term.