Crucible 2017 – Mid way into the last 16 …

We are two days and a half into the last 16, with two more days to play, and here is how things stand.

We already know 4 of our 8 quarter finalists: Ronnie, Ding Junhui, John Higgins, Kyren Wilson. In the qf Ronnie will play Ding, Kyren Wilson will play John Higgins.

I have already covered the Ronnie v Shaun Murphy match  and I want to stress again that despite the previous comments and the needle, Shaun was very gracious in defeat, both in his postmatch interview and on social media.

What about the other matches:

Ding Junhui 13-12 Liang Wenbo

This was an incredibly high scoring match, with 22 breaks over 50, 12 from Liang, 10 from Ding. It was an attacking fest, very entertaining, played in great spirit, with the players embracing at the end of the match. Now that could be Ding’s undoing as Liang seems to suffer from a very nasty cough! Seriously, it came down to the mental strength in the end. Liang lead 12-11 but Ding remained calm and composed. The crazy shot Liang took and missed in the decider tells the story …

You can watch the decider here:

John Higgins 13-9 Mark Allen

This was another very high quality match and Mark Allen will be gutted. He scored 11 breaks over 50, but won only 9 frames, scores more points and potted more balls but still lost the match. John Higgins made 7 breaks over 50 himself . The key frames were frames 14 and 18. In frame 17 Mark Allen made a break of 70, failed to pot frame ball, left a possible 75 on the table  and John Higgins cleared with 72. In frame 18, Mark lead with 58, had a horrible kick, missed a red, and John Higgins, again, stole the frame with 63. That is John’s big strength: taking the frames he should have lost. Had Mark been able to make it 9-9 in that 18th frame we could have seen a different story. More than once this season John has been vulnerable when his opponent got on top, but if they leave him off the hook, they are doomed. The way that 18th frame went looked like it took the stuffing out of a very frustrated Allen. He too went for a very questionable “last” shot in the last frame…

Kyren Wilson 13-10 Stuart Bingham

I can’t really comment on this one as I didn’t watch it … Going by the stats it was a good match too. I didn’t expect Kyren to win it, not because he’s not good enough, but until now he didn’t have the best of seasons, lots of up and downs,  and Stuart is a more experienced player. He will now face John Higgins. Can he beat John? Most think it’s unlikely, but you never know. The pressure will be on John, he’s the one expected to win, that might play in Kyren’s favour. And one thing Kyren doesn’t lack is bottle when it comes to the business end of an important match. Just remember how he held himself together when he won his first raking title, the Shanghai Masters 2015: he beat Judd Trump in a decider having been pegged back from 7-3, 8-4 and 9-7 up.