Match report by Worldsnooker (excerpt)
Wednesday 29 Mar 2017 03:50PM
Mark Joyce scored one of the best wins of his career as he beat Ronnie O’Sullivan 5-4 in the last 32 of the Bank of Beijing China Open.
World number 51 Joyce held his nerve in an exciting finish to knock five-time World Champion O’Sullivan out of the last tournament before he heads to the Crucible. O’Sullivan has not won a ranking title in 13 months, though he did lift the Masters trophy in January.
In the last 16 on Thursday, Walsall’s 33-year-old Joyce will face home favourite Ding Junhui, who thumped Zhou Yuelong 5-0.
Joyce had leads of 1-0, 2-1, 3-2, and 4-3 and each time O’Sullivan fought back to level. It was a high quality contest with Joyce compiling breaks of 79, 66 and 137 while world number 13 O’Sullivan made 106, 132 and 63. The deciding frame was a nervy one as both players missed chances. Joyce failed on a red to a top corner when he trailed 26-29, but O’Sullivan then missed a tough red to the same pocket. A further 31 from Joyce proved enough for victory.
“It’s right up there with my best wins,” said Joyce after reaching the last 16 of a ranking event for the first time this season. “I beat Judd Trump at the UK Championship when he was world number one a few years ago, so this is probably second to that one. I have beaten a few of the top players on TV, it’s on the back tables that I need to start winning and translating these kind of victories into long runs in tournaments.
“I had a good chance to win in the eighth frame tonight and messed it up. The crowd was tough because they wanted Ronnie to win. In the blink of an eye it was 4-4 and that unsettled me. Luckily for me Ronnie missed a red in the last frame and I managed to hold myself together to make a good break. Again tomorrow I’ll be second favourite but I enjoy that underdog tag. If you are at the table and scoring it doesn’t matter who you play. Every round from now on I’ll be playing a top player.”
It was in fact a great match for the neutral … but I’m not neutral (sigh).
Ronnie didn’t play badly – he made two centuries and a 63 – but he mixed some brilliant snooker with unexpected mistakes. He looked rather tired out there, and, like many players in China, he’s probably jet-lagged and suffered lapses in concentration. I can only hope that he comes to the Crucible properly rested and will be able to restore a good level of consistency. It’s certainly not due to a lack of work and practice: I know for certain that the full week before the tournament he worked hard, practicing with Oliver Lines.
In a way, this relatively early exit may prove to be a blessing in disguise. Since the China Open was moved from December to March in the calendar, no China Open winner, won the World Championship in the same season and this is probably linked to the fact that this tournament is so close to the Crucible that players who go deep in Beijing see their preparation suffer. Last year Mark Selby opted out to be fresh ahead of the World and we saw the result, this year Neil Robertson and Mark Allen did the same.
Ronnie is currently 12th in the provisional seeding. As things stand now, at worse, he could finish 13th if Kyren Wilson wins the title (Kyren is the only top 16 player not in the top 6 still in the China Open draw) . It wouldn’t make much of a difference anyway, he would still be in the same quarter of the draw.
Anyway, here is the match:
2017 China Open: Ronnie O’Sullivan – Mark Joyce
And a few images, thanks to Tai Chengzhe!
According to this article published by the Chinese Billiard and Snooker Association, and on my own understanding of the automatic translation versions, Ronnie wasn’t too down on himself after the match during his press conference. He branded his own performance as “average” but was “very disappointed” not to meet Ding in the clash all Chinese fans wanted to see. He also explained why he keeps his answers so short. Asked again about Ding, he said he supports him because he likes him very much. He finished his press conference by thanking the Chinese fans and media in Chinese. From what I understand he will stay in China another couple of days.