China Championship 2017 – Day 5 – Quarter Finals mixed bag!

It was again a strange day for the top seeds in Guangzhou: in the afternoon session (morning in Europe), both Shaun Murphy and Ali Carter won their match comfortably; in the evening (afternoon in Europe) both Ronnie and Mark Williams lost, having held a three frame advantage.

Here are the reports on Worldsnooker.

Afternoon session:

Sunday 20 Aug 2017 01:07PM

Shaun Murphy scored a 5-2 win over prodigy Zhou Yuelong to reach the semi-finals of the Evergrande China Championship in Guangzhou.

China’s Zhou, 19, missed the chance to reach his first ranking event semi-final as he was outplayed by former World Champion Murphy.

Zhou won the first frame by clearing from blue to black, and the second with a break of 59. But Murphy then dominated and reeled off five frames in a row with top runs of  55, 50 and 100.

It was pure experience which won me the match, I have been playing snooker since before Zhou was born,” said Murphy, chasing his eighth ranking title. “He is a fantastic player and he will naturally learn from some of his mistakes. Experience teaches you not to panic and to stay calm no matter what the score is.

“This is a massive and very prestigious tournament so to be in the semi-finals is a great opportunity.”

In the semi-finals on Monday, Murphy will face Ali Carter who scored a 5-2 win over Fergal O’Brien. The first four frames were shared, Carter making a break of 112 and O’Brien a 124. Chelmsford’s Carter, who won the World Open in China last season, then pulled away after the interval and took the last three frames with top runs of 65 and 76.

It’s always tough against Fergal because he gives you nothing,” said Carter. “I was a bit lucky to go 3-2 up. I’m delighted to be in the semi-finals, Shaun and I have had many good battles.”

Evening session:

Sunday 20 Aug 2017 05:54PM

Luca Brecel came from 4-1 down to beat Ronnie O’Sullivan 5-4 and reach the semi-finals of the Evergrande China Championship.

O’Sullivan saw his hopes of a 29th career ranking title quashed as he couldn’t get past the winning line in Guangzhou. Instead, Belgium’s talented 22-year-old Brecel goes through to his third ranking event semi-final and first since the 2016 German Masters when he ended up losing to Martin Gould in the the final.

Breaks of 85 and 55 helped O’Sullivan go 4-1 up before Brecel stormed back with runs of 110 and 103 to close to 4-3. He got the better of a scrappy eighth frame to level the tie. Both players had chances in the decider and it came down to the colours, Brecel potting brown, blue and pink to score one of his career best wins.

It was unbelievable,” said a thrilled Brecel. “Against most players you think you can come back from 4-1 down, but against Ronnie you don’t fancy it because he is so good. When I made a century I started believing again. I kept really cool and made some good breaks. I’m looking forward to the semi-finals. I have felt so good this week, as if it can be my week. I am practising consistently with no days off so maybe that’s the difference.

In the semis on Monday, Brecel will face China’s Li Hang, who continued his career-best run with a 5-3 win over Mark Williams. Two time World Champion Williams compiled runs of 58 and 56 in taking a 3-0 lead before 26-year-old Li, playing in his first ranking quarter-final, won five frames consecutive frames with top runs of 66 and 103.

We both got a bit distracted by the noise from the other table,” said home favourite Li.But I didn’t give up even when I was 3-0 down. In the second half of the match Mark wasn’t cueing as well as the first half and I saw my chance. I wasn’t thinking about the result because if I had, it would have affected my performance.

“I knew Luca was 4-1 down at one point so he must have played really well to come back at Ronnie. Tomorrow will not be easy but hopefully I can settle down and enjoy it.

Here are the frame scores for the Ronnie v Luca match:

ChinaChamps2017QFROS-BecelStats.png

What do I make of what happened today?

Ronnie started well, and lead 4-1, but as the scores show, he wasn’t winning the frames in one visit, except for the first one. Both players were making mistakes, and Ronnie was the one able to take advantage when it was going scrappy. At 4-1 down, with nothing to lose, Luca changed his approach: he became far more aggressive, took more risks, and it paid. He took long ones, and got them, he split the pack wide open as early as he had the opportunity and cleared. He kept Ronnie cold in his seat for two frames whilst he was scoring two centuries. It boosted his confidence, whilst Ronnie lost his rhythm totally. Yet Ronnie would probably have won the match by 5-3, if it wasn’t for a massive fluke on the last red for Luca at a crucial time, at the end of frame 8. But it happens, it’s part of the sport, and 4-4 it went. Ronnie had chances in the decider, he missed the final green, and later the final brown, both played at pace. This is something I had noticed earlier in this tournament, and also in Hong Kong: he isn’t as reliable as he used to be playing at pace for whatever reason.  Anyway, it’s history. Luca is in the semi final, and good luck to him, he kept believing, played positively and deserves it.

Here is the match:

The question was raised on twitter as to why Ronnie took the brown with the final red in the decider rather than the blue. Only him will know for sure. But, as far as I can judge by the television image, I can see only one reason: I think that where it was the brown was going in only one pocket, the green bag, the pink preventing it to go into the yellow pocket, and it required precise position too because the brown was very close to the pink.

Screen Shot 2017-08-20 at 18.26.19

Ronnie was in  that position, and, maybe didn’t trust to be able to get there again from the green later. Of course, he knew the brown was going to the black spot and would require the white to travel a lot, but at least it was then in completely open play.

Thanks to Tai Chengzhe for those images!

20 thoughts on “China Championship 2017 – Day 5 – Quarter Finals mixed bag!

  1. Next month (18 – 24 Sep) the World Open will be held in Yushan, China. Last year Ronnie didn’t participate but also the top prize was “only” £90,000, this year it is almost doubled= £150 000. The qualifications are over (biggest shock =Trump was smoked), but there are also 4 wildcards reserved. The tournament will have the same format as the current one in Evergrande and it is a ranking one.

    Ronnie loves to play in China, we are waiting about his decision on this one …..in case anyone has any info regarding his decision, please share it!

    More info about the tournament on the link below
    http://www.worldsnooker.com/tournaments/china-event/

    Judd Trump vs Sam Craigie – Snooker World Open 2017 FULL MATCH

    • Ronnie has not entered and will not play in that one. No professional player can be a wildcard. There is no decision to be made about this.

      • “….No professional player can be a wildcard….”

        Last year, all 4 wildcards for Yushan were given to professional players !

        excerpt from http://www.wpbsa.com/world-open-2016-tournament-preview/

        “………There will also be four wildcards taking part, with Hammad Miah, Zhang Anda, James Wattana and Matthews Stevens the professionals to have drawn the short straw…………”

      • OK. Well, since English is not my mother tongue (but i am very good at it) the phrase “draw/get the short straw” was confusing to me and wasn’t sure what it means in that context – “the professionals to have drawn the short straw”. Initially i understood it like those 4 mentioned professionals were given the wildcards as a way to enter the tournament. It doesn’t make some sense (for me) acording to the explanation given below, like those players where given a chance to enter the tournament via shortcut, with less “resistance” playing with amateurs in the first round !

        http://dictionary.cambridge.org/dictionary/english/draw-get-the-short-straw

        Thanks

      • “getting the short straw” means “getting the bad luck”, in particular when someone, in a group, has to accomplish an unpleasant task for instance.

  2. Hi, Adam, it’s so nice you’re ‘baaaaack’ ! Oh how badly I’ve been missing you. Finally … finally this endless oh so boring time has come to an end. What actually would I do without your competent analyses and comments?
    Thanks to you I finally got a clue what kind of snooker player Ronnie really is. Strange but I always considered him as one of the greatest in his sport … Even so, I’m truly sorry all your efforts won’t do in any way to reduce my deeply rooted admiration for this wonderful man. And maybe I’m even not the only one.
    However, please take care not to miss out any opportunity to vent against Ronnie. But don’t be cross with me if I don’t dedicate myself to your comments any more. You know, sometimes words are pointless, and I just have better things to do …
    Special greetings and best wishes to Monique … Ute from Germany

    • hi Ute, nice to meet you. it’s funny that I seem to you like an antifanboy, am I right? I’m a fan of Ronnie but a fan who can’t deal easily with the fact that his favorite is seemingly getting worse…best wishes,
      Adam from somewhere in Central Europe…

  3. Dear Adam, I become angry like you seeing Ronnie lose such a match and in this manner. You have to understand that Ronnie is almost 42 now, he has no more the same hunger he had when he was younger. I expect him winning some other tournament playing great snooker. But his best is gone! It may be sad, but there has to come an end for every great sportsman. And Ronnie has had a wonderful and successful career, hasn’t it?

    • sure, you have a point. also, I don’t think it’s all over for Ronnie, he can still win tournaments with a little concentration

  4. I hope that with the new cue Ronnie will find his lost confidence. In the next two months Ronnie won’t play any official tournament. I fear sincerely that he’ll lose his actual good form and that he’ll need a lot of time to get it again. Anyway Ronnie will come back as the true season begins, and I think he’ll be at his best in january for the Masters as usual the previous years. The question is whether Ronnie has the will for being still a top player, someone able to win still a big tournament, even a world championship. Or want he continue to be just an entertainer? I hope not.

    • When you are competitive enough to win 5 World titles, that never goes away, but how every sportsperson copes with decline is something personal. Ronnie wants to enjoy the moment and put smiles on the fans faces with entertaining play. There are worse ways to do it …

      • Monique, Ronnie’s snooker has been always entertaining. The matter is whether your motivation is just to play for entertaining fans and crowds, or even play to be competitive and win silverware. Ronnie is a natural winner and competitor, and he doesn’t like playing wrong. I think he’s more similar to Hendry than Steve Davis and Jimmy White which love snooker anyway, even losing.

      • Bernd, have you read “Interesting”, Steve Davis bio? If not, you should, and you will realise how totally competitive Steve was in his prime, and how much of a transformation was needed for him to accept to play and not be a contender for titles. Hendry never managed that, but I think that Ronnie is closer to Davis than he is to Hendry. Time will tell.

  5. Of course you’re back Adam, and you were never around when he won. If you think that Murphy or Carter are not serious opponents you’re badly deluded BTW. I’m fed up with your negativity. If you can’t accept that at nearly 42, Ronnie isn’t at the peak of his power anymore, and enjoy the moment when he plays, and plays well, then i suggest you go elsewhere and support a winner. Mark Selby would be a good choice. I just want to point to you that all of the top 6 went out early, so in this tournament Ronnie did better than them. He’s still a top player, he may no be a serial winner anymore. And don’t come up with “he should retire”. Because fans can’t cope with the disappointment is not a reason for sportspersons to retire if they still enjoy competing. It’s THEIR life and THEIR choice at THEIR time.

    • I’m not saying he should retire. I’m just saying that he probably shouldn’t lose 4 frames in a row to a guy who never ever won a tournament 🙂

      • The said guy is only 22 and didn’t grow up in a country where you have a snooker club at every corner. When Ronnie beat Hendry to win his first UK, he was was also a kid who had never won a tournament. There is always a first time, and this attitude of contempt for Ronnie’s opponents is not on.

  6. I’m baaaaack! Yeah, totally losing your rhythm in 2 frames is exactly what you do when you’re a 5-time world champion in the quarter-final of a ranking tournament that everybody expects you to win since all your serious opponents are out.

  7. I’m not sure, I remember him losing 4-3 from 3-0 up to Mark Davis in one of the Home Nations. Time will tell. When players grow older, inconsistency, lapse in concentration and tiredness creep in unfortunately and it affects their confidence. I hope Ronnie isn’t there just yet and that a new cue will help him regain both consistency and confidence.

  8. Really disappointed for Ronnie. This was such a great chance for him to win another ranking title, and he probably won’t get such a great chance again.

    I hope it’s just a coincidence rather than a growing pattern in his play, but I seem to recall him losing a few “best of 9” matches last season (after the Masters) where he led 4-0 or 4-1…

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