Nothern Ireland Open 2017 – Day 4

Day 4 in Belfast yielded quite an extraordinary line-up for the quarter finals that will be played today. That’s how it pans out:

NIO2017QFLineup

We have only one top 16 player in there, Mark Williams, who, quite extraordinarily, faces a player in Mike Dunn who has never reached a final in his 26 years as a pro, whose highest ranking ever was n°32, but who has defeated him four times in five previous encounters, Mark’s only victory coming in the Shootout of all events! .

We also have four Chinese players in this, three of them members of the Vic Snooker Academy. Yan Bingtao and Lyu Hao Tian are still in their teens. And also there we have Elliott Slessor who defeated Sam Craigie on the back of his win against Ronnie.

Ronnie who was back in the Eurosport studio ahead of the evening session was full of praise for his young conqueror in the preview of the coming matches:

Here is the report on Worldsnooker:

Mark Williams is the only top 16 ranked player through to the quarter-finals the Dafabet Northern Ireland Open after defeating David Gilbert 4-2 in Belfast.

Seeds tumbled in day four’s earlier last 32 clashes. Ronnie O’Sullivan’s hopes of the £1 million pound bonus for winning all four Home Nations events were ended by world number 82 Elliot Slessor.

John Higgins was defeated 4-3 by Gary Wilson in a superb tie and Neil Robertson lost out 4-3 to Robert Milkins.

Williams earned his spot in this evening’s last 16 with a 4-1 win over Sunny Akani. That was the first frame the Welshman had lost this week, but he faced a sterner test this evening against Gilbert.

They went blow for blow in the early exchanges, with a break over fifty each of the first five frames. Gilbert fired in contributions of 67 and 74, but Williams made breaks of 52, 79 and 63 to move to the verge of victory at 3-2. He got himself over the line and booked a quarter-final clash with Mike Dunn.

“I’m sure everyone left in the event is thinking that this must be their best chance to win a tournament,” said the two-time World Champion. “You try and win every tournament you play in. If I win here on Sunday brilliant. If I Iose tomorrow it doesn’t make any difference. You just have to try your best.”

Robert Milkins followed up his superb win over Robertson with a 4-2 defeat of three-time ranking event winner Ricky Walden.

Milkins has reached ten ranking quarter-finals in his career and appeared in a further six semi-finals. However, he admits that with several big names falling by the wayside this week is a chance to go further.

“There’s a big opportunity, but there is a long way to go and I don’t want to put too much pressure on myself,” said the 41-year-old. “All I’ve ever wanted to do is win a tournament, even then I’m feeling nervous and this is just the last 16.”

Teenager Yan Bingtao came through late night thriller against Ryan Day 4-3 and will now face Milkins in the last eight.  Mike Dunn set up his showdown with Williams thanks to a 4-1 defeat of 2014 Players Champion Joe Perry.

Elliot Slessor backed up his defeat of O’Sullivan with another 4-1 win, this time over Sam Craigie. Liam Highfield’s run was ended by China’s Lyu Haotian.

And here is the Mark Williams vs David Gilbert review on ES:

So here are my predictions for the semi finals (for what it’s worth)

Elliot Slessor vs Mark Williams

Yan Bingtao vs Lyu Hao Tian