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.
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.”
Sunday 20 Aug 2017 05:54PM
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:
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 he 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.
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!