Judd beat Ronnie by 5-3 yesterday evening in the QF of the Players Championship 2017.
Ronnie couldn’t sustain the level of excellence he had shown in the last 16 whilst Judd was excellent in all departments, especially before the MSI. That’s this match in a nutshell.
Ronnie found himself 3-1 down at the MSI, with a 90% pot success, 82% safety success and 100% long pot success – stats that would normally win you a match – but he only had got 32% of table time and that’s the one that tells the story. Judd prevented him to play: Ronnie scores only 18 in the last three frames of the mini session and his highest break was 36, which he had scored in the opening frame, a frame he had won in two main visits.
The positive aspect of the match is that, despite everything, Ronnie continued to apply himself and fight, although, as the pundits observed, he was playing with more caution and less positively than usual. Alan McManus suggested that he was playing the man rather than the table. I’m not sure of that. My view is that Ronnie isn’t confident at all at the moment and that was the key factor. Since he’s won the Masters he’s not been able to play well consistently. It’s obvious that he has been putting the hours in before this tournament, it showed in the last 16, and even in the QF in spells. But yesterday, he went into his shell a bit, refusing a couple of pots he would usually take during the first mini-session. He came back more aggressive after the MSI and, honestly, I’m not sure what could have happened over a longer format. My feeling is that doubts were beginning to creep in Judd’s mind …
I found Judd’s quotes during the ITV4 aftermatch quite interesting. He stated that practicing with Ronnie had helped his own game massively, he learned a lot, and helped him to bring to the level he’s at now. Ronnie is also coaching three young Chinese players, including the very young Yan Bingtao who, as a rookie, managed to climb into the top 64 already. My husband reaction after yesterday’s match was “He shouldn’t do that, they improve so much they beat him afterwards!”. Maybe … but, in fact, despite some raging outbursts over the years, the fundamental fact is that Ronnie loves his sport, with a passion, and is deeply concerned about the lack of young talents coming through to secure the future. I know that what I just wrote will be met with scepticism by a few but, see, passion hurts when things don’t go the way ones wish, and snooker has brought Ronnie deep suffering at times, as well as triumph and elation at other times. Wearing his heart on his sleeve he’s always expressed his feelings, positive or negative, unfiltered, on the moment.
Finally, Ronnie again gave another non committal postmatch interview. He refused to discuss the match, in particular when Neal Foulds suggested that Judd had got the run of the balls, and instead suggested that he needed to lose weight and eat healthier before the WC because his waistcoat was a bit too tight and hindering his movements … or get a bigger waistcoat. He didn’t look too down about losing. I’m not sure how he really felt. actually. In recent months he has said, in multiple occasions, that he is accepting that he isn’t as good as he once and won’t be winning as much as he used to do was but wants to continue to play and compete as long as he enjoys the challenge. And, he’s working hard too.
Some surely will suggest he should retire if he feels like this, if winning isn’t everything to him . I disagree. It’s up to the player to decide when the time has come for them to retire and everyone is different. Steve Davis continued to play well beyond his glory days. Was he wrong? He had a few brilliant spells late in his career, including that deep run in the 2010 World Championship when he beat John Higgins, the defending Champion, in the last 16, before losing to Neil Robertson, the eventual winner, in the QF. I will never forget the atmosphere in the Crucible when Steve was playing that year: the entire audience was living every ball with him. Jimmy White is still playing and if he loses his tour card, he will be absolutely devastated. He’s also still very popular and heavily supported by a the fans. So?
Here is the match report by Worldsnooker:
Wednesday 8 Mar 2017 10:29PM
Judd Trump has come through a blockbuster clash with Ronnie O’Sullivan, winning 5-3 to reach the last four of the Ladbrokes Players Championship in Llandudno.
Both players are used to facing each other on the big occasion, their last four meetings in ranking competition had been finals, with the Ace in the Pack and the Rocket winning two each. One of those clashes was in Llandudno, where Trump rattled off six frames in a row to defeat O’Sullivan 10-7 in the 2015 World Grand Prix final.
O’Sullivan was looking to reach the 65th semi-final of his career this evening, whilst Trump was looking appear in the last four of an event for the 7th time this season.
Despite the Rocket taking the opener, Trump dominated the opening part of the match courtesy of a brutal display of long potting. He made breaks of 86 and 113 on his way to establishing a 3-1 lead at the interval.
They traded frames after the match resumed, before a magnificent break of 109 from O’Sullivan forced kept the match alive at 4-3.
Trump got in first in the eighth frame, making 60 as he looked to put the tie to bed. However, O’Sullivan found himself at the table with another opportunity. He compiled a run of 31 before failing to find position on the final red. After a brief safety exchange Trump made it and went on to secure the tie.
Next up for the world number three is a semi-final meeting with either Neil Robertson or Ali Carter, who face each other tomorrow afternoon.
Trump remarked: “It was getting quite tough. If it went 4-4 it would have been an edgy one and he probably would have been favourite. I felt like I controlled the whole game and it was mine to lose.
“The main difference between us was the safety. Every time he came to the table he was in a bit of trouble,” said the 2011 UK Champion. “I played a lot against Ronnie in practice and exhibitions in the summer and I kind of got used to his game. I know what he is all about and that I can compete with him now.”
Some more pictures, courtesy of Tai Chengzhe, thanks Tai!
Here are the videos of interest:
The aftermatch with ITV4 pundits: