Luca Brecel was impressive yesterday in beating Judd Trump by 4-0 in about 50 minutes, then knocking out the World Champion by 6-4 in the evening. Mark Selby was visibly extremely tired and did well to go that far actually. Once again he showed his battling qualities.
China Championship winner Brecel won Group Three to set up a semi-final clash with Shaun Murphy on Saturday evening at the Ricoh Arena in Coventry. In perhaps the best performances the tournament has seen so far, the Belgian defeated Trump 4-0 in less than 50 minutes in the group semi-final before fending off a Selby fight back to take the group final 6-4.
World No 1 Selby won the International Championship in Daqing on Sunday evening and had only arrived back in the UK on Tuesday afternoon. He beat Liang Wenbo 4-3 in his semi-final and made a brisk 125 in the opening frame of the group final in the evening.
Brecel hit back with breaks of 57 and 70 en route to a 3-1 mid-session lead. Selby took the fifth frame before the ‘Belgian Bullet’ extended his advantage to 5-2. A 76 break kept the World Champion’s hopes alive and he closed the gap to one by taking the ninth frame.
But when finally given a clear-cut chance in the 10th, Brecel was faultless and claimed his second scalp of the day.
“When I saw the draw I knew it would be very tough, especially not playing with my own cue,” he said. “It was a big test for me but I succeeded. I felt so confident after the first frame against Trump and to beat Judd like that is amazing.
“I was using a different cue because I lost mine in the airport in Beijing. I won’t have my cue back for Saturday – I ordered a new one so maybe I will have it after Shanghai.
“When you get in front against Mark you know it will be tough but I have had good experiences in close games this season, so I was confident of winning. The final clearance, from brown to black I was shaking – it has been a long time since I have been shaking like that.
“This is a beautiful tournament. There is a nice crowd, the table is unbelievable and it is a nice arena. It is a very special tournament.
“I have played Shaun a lot over the last few years, we have four wins each, so it will be a tough game and I think it will be an aggressive game as well on Saturday.”
Selby, who beat Liang Wenbo 4-3 in his group-semi final, added: “Luca played well all match. I missed a blue to go 2-2 at the interval, and if I pot that it could be a different game. He scored well when he got in more times than not, and he made a great clearance at the end.
“He has had a great season so far and he is showing the potential everybody has been talking about for many years.”
Thursday sees Group Four action at the 188BET Champion of Champions. Masters Winner Ronnie O’Sullivan faces Neil Robertson before John Higgins gets his tournament defence underway against fellow Scot, Anthony McGill.
Featuring tournament winners from the last 12 months including Higgins, Selby and O’Sullivan, the 188BET Champion of Champions marks its fifth year as players go head to head for the prestigious title and the £100,000 winner’s prize.
The 16-player field is split into four groups of four players with each group comprising two semi-finals played over seven frames in the afternoon session, followed by a final in the evening played over 11 frames.
The four group winners proceed to the best of 11 semi-finals, with the Group One winner facing the Group Four winner on Friday, November 10 and the players emerging from Groups Two and Three up against each other on the evening of Saturday, November 11.
The 19-frame final will be played over two sessions on Sunday, November 12.
Group Three Results
Mark Selby 4–6 Luca Brecel
125-8 (Selby 125), 8-81 (Brecel 57), 0-87 (Brecel 70), 44-51, 75-8, 31-72 (Brecel 50), 4-79 (Brecel 53), 76-20 (Selby 76), 58-19, 62-65 (Selby 61, Brecel 55)
Mark Selby 4-3 Liang Wenbo
25-71, 79-39, 18-82 (Wenbo 53), 129-0 (Selby 112), 83-36, 46-81, 76-11 (Selby 50)
Judd Trump 0-4 Luca Brecel
10-78, 4-103 (Brecel 103), 12-117 (Brecel 105), 36-87 (Brecel 87)
Of the three semi finalists already known, Luca is the only one who qualified for the Shanghai Masters. Today we have two players, Ronnie and John Higgins, who DID qualify for the Shanghai Masters – a ranking event carrying lots of points – facing two players, Neil Robertson and Anthony McGill, who did not qualify. Whoever plays in the final week-end will inevitably be very tired coming to China; jet lag is a reality as we have seen with Mark Selby yesterday. The schedule is such that it’s humanly impossible to perform well in all events. I wonder how Ronnie and John will handle the situation. I’m NOT suggesting that either may throw the match deliberately. Both are very competitive animals. However they might deep down have mixed priorities, as winning here might jeopardise their chances in Shanghai, whilst their opponents will be 100% focused on this event.