China Open 2017 – How things stand as we reach the last 4.

There was another tale of the unexpected in the afternoon session as Hossein Vafaei defeated the defending champion Judd Trump by 5-3 whilst Mark Williams very efficiently neutralised Shaun Murphy, preventing him to dictate either the style or pace of play to win by 5-1.

The evening session saw Mark Selby get the better of Stephen Maguire by 5-1, with both players struggling rather badly before the MSI, and before Selby found some fluency eventually. At the other table Kyren Wilson bullied the local favourite Ding Junhui off the table, and is probably the most hated man in China just now… although, to be honest, I’m not really surprised as Ding looked vulnerable yesterday.

What does this mean in terms of seeding for the World Championship?

  • Mark Williams still has a chance to avoid the qualification rounds, but Stephen Maguire will definitely need to win 3 matches in Ponds Forge to be at the Crucible.
  • Hossein Vafaei broke into the top 64 for the first time and a win tomorrow would probably guarantee that he will start the next season in that bracket. If he loses tomorrow, things will depend on his and others results in Ponds Forge. He would still stay on tour, with a new two years card if he doesn’t manage to finish the season in the top 64. One man however who will be rooting for him is Jimmy White because success for Hossein would increase his own chances to stay on the main tour.
  • The seeding for the Crucible is almost set by now. Only two things could change it: Williams winning the title would mean that he would take the n°16 spot, sending Ryan Day to Ponds Forge and Kyren Wilson winning the title would mean that he would climb to n°10, pushing seeds n° 11, 12 and 13 one down. Not sure however that this would be an advantage as that would move him from Stuart Bingham’s quarter, to Judd Trump’s quarter at the Crucible.

Here are the reports on Worldsnooker:

Afternoon session:

Friday 31 Mar 2017 10:30AM

Hossein Vafaei has recorded the biggest win of his career, seeing off Judd Trump 5-3 to reach the semi-finals of the Bank of Beijing China Open.

Vafaei, who is Iran’s only professional player, has also confirmed his place on the tour next season by virtue of his run this week in Beijing.

Defeat for the in-form Trump, who made the third maximum break of his career yesterday, ends his bid to reach a fourth consecutive final.

It was a confident opening from the 22-year-old Vafaei, who moved 2-0 ahead courtesy of breaks of 45 and 74.  After Trump won the third, Vafaei compiled a century run of exactly 100 to go into the interval 3-1 up.

When they returned from the break it was quick-fire snooker to the finish, with none of the remaining frames stretching beyond the 20 minute mark. Trump took the fifth frame to pull within one and he was then level at 3-3 after making a contribution of 66 to snatch the next on the black.

Hossein appeared to be unfazed by the big match situation and responded with a contribution of 106. He then potted a clutch final pink in the eighth frame to secure a 5-3 win.

Mark Williams boosted his hopes qualifying directly for the World Championship with a  5-1 demolition of 2005 World Champion Shaun Murphy.

The three-time China Open Champion needs to lift the title again to knock compatriot Ryan Day out of the world’s top 16 and clinch his place at the Crucible.

The match started promisingly for the Magician, who made a break of 56 on his way to taking the opener. However, from that point on the 18-time ranking winner Williams took control.

There weren’t an abundance of high breaks in the match, but Williams was getting the better of the tight frames. He came from behind to level the scores in the second. Williams then stole what proved to be a pivotal third frame on the final black and that set the tone for the remaining exchanges.

The two-time World Champion reeled off the next three frames to progress to the last four, where he’ll face Vafaei for a place in the final.

“Nobody wants to go to the qualifiers. However, I put my mind to it about two or three months ago that it was more than likely that I would be there,” said Williams. “I’d love to get to another final, it’s been a while. If I won it would be fantastic. To have already won this event twice is unbelievable but if I could make it a third it would be extra special.”

Evening session:

Friday 31 Mar 2017 04:45PM

Kyren Wilson put on a fine display to defeat Ding Junhui 5-1 and reach the last four of the Bank of Beijing China Open.

It’s a welcome return to form for Wilson ahead of next month’s World Championship. He’s broken a run of four consecutive first round defeats and has reached his first semi-final since the Northern Ireland Open in November.

Ding’s focus will now turn to the Crucible as he looks to go one better than last year, where he was runner-up to Mark Selby.

Wilson played aggressively throughout the tie and he moved 3-1 ahead at the interval thanks to a run of 55 in the fourth frame.

The 25-year-old had a contender for shot of the season in the first frame after the break. He cut back a red above the blue spot into the bottom pocket from long range and went on to clear with a run of 30 to take the frame on the black. A bitter blow for the home favourite Ding, who now trailed 4-1.

The world number four’s fortunes didn’t improve in the next, as the Warrior ruthlessly shut the door with a break of 84 to clinch an impressive 5-1 win.

“It’s nice to be in a semi-final of such a big tournament again, especially before the World Championship,” said Wilson. “I feel like my form is coming together at the right time and Ding is a very good player so to have any win over him is a massive feather in my cap.”

However, it doesn’t get any easier for Wilson in the semi-finals, as he will face world number one and World Champion Mark Selby who crushed Scotland’s Stephen Maguire 5-1.

Defeat for Maguire ends his ambitions of qualifying directly for the Crucible and he will now head to Ponds Forge needing to win three best of 19 matches to reach the World Championship.

Selby has kept his hopes alive of claiming a second China Open title. His other victory in Beijing came in 2015 when he crushed Gary Wilson 10-2 in the final.

The early exchanges were bereft of high breaks, but Selby looked the more composed of the two when among the balls. A clutch clearance of 47 allowed him to go 3-0 ahead after trailing in the third.

After the interval Selby showed his class and made breaks of 76 and 72 to secure a 5-1 win and book a semi-final meeting with Wilson.