As the last 16 starts today, only 4 of the top 16 are still in the competition: Ronnie, John Higgins, Shaun Murphy and Mark Allen. The guys trying to get in that bracket are out in force: Ryan Day, Stephen Maguire, Martin Gould, Joe Perry and Ricky Walden are still in this and fighting. This installment of the UK Championship is turning into quite an absorbing tournament, especially with young players like Lyu Hao Tian and Sunny Akani also still in the mix.
Here are the reports on Worldsnooker:
Ronnie O’Sullivan compared himself to Seve Ballesteros and Tiger Woods after thrashing Michael White 6-1 to reach the last 16 of the Betway UK Championship.
O’Sullivan has lost just five frames in his three matches so far in York and will now face Barry Hawkins or Sunny Akani in round four. He is chasing his sixth UK title and third ranking event of the season having won the English Open and Shanghai Masters.
World number four O’Sullivan, the highest ranked player left in the tournament, was not at his best today but capitalised on a series of mistakes from Welshman White. The first two frames were shared, then O’Sullivan took three in a row with breaks of 132, 64 and 71.
Frame six was a scrappy affair and came down to the colours, O’Sullivan converting a thin cut on the blue to a centre pocket to go 5-1 ahead. And he sealed the result in the next with a run of 65.
“This game is like golf – if you’re not set up right or you’re not in line it can affect everything,” said O’Sullivan. “We all go through that and some of us can go through that a little bit better than others, like Seve Ballesteros or Tiger Woods. They’re able to get it round sometimes and that’s what I was able to do today.
“It’s part of the art of the game, some people can do it and some can’t. I’ve won a lot of my matches and tournaments having to do that. It’s great to play fluently but that’s not always the case. Mark Williams, Judd Trump and Luca Brecel are shot makers and so is Mark Selby – he’s able to scramble it round probably better than anyone else. There’s a yin and yang with everything though – with the more robotic players, when they’re really ‘on’ they tend not to make any mistakes.
“Michael didn’t play well today, he was struggling out there and the more you miss, the harder it gets. He got loads of bad luck as well and I felt for him because I like him and he loves the game. It can be frustrating out there and I wasn’t brilliant, but I think I scrambled a bit better out there.”
White said: “I was absolutely awful, so frustrated with myself. It’s just bitterly disappointing. I need to get to grips with dealing with the pressure over events that last a long period of time otherwise the same thing is going to keep happening. He was far from his best but I just couldn’t do anything in the end. In the final frame I didn’t really want to be there at all. I knew my mind had completely gone.”
John Higgins came through a tough tie with Yan Bingtao, winning 6-3 to set up a match with Mark King. Three-time UK Champion Higgins went 3-0 up with top breaks of 66 and 80 then China’s Yan, runner-up at the recent Northern Ireland Open, fought back to 3-3 with top runs of 79 and 81. But Wishaw’s Higgins made a vital 67 to win the seventh frame, and dominated the last two with a top break of 66.
Higgins revealed after his second round match that he needed a new tip on his cue, and yesterday he drove to Southport to have the work done by former pro Les Dodd. “If I had have kept the old tip on I’d have just lost 6-0 today, but with the new one after an hour it felt a lot better,” said the Scot. “I thought I competed well with Yan today and my safety game was good, which it had to be because he’s such a good player.”
Mark King pulled away from 3-3 to beat Luca Brecel 6-3 with a top run of 101. Martin Gould top scored with 84 in a 6-4 win over Hossein Vafaei. Gould still has a chance of getting into the top 16 in the race for the Masters though he needs at least a semi-final berth.
Ronnie will play Sunny Akani tomorrow and it could be intriguing. Akani has a very unorthodox technique to say the least, and he’s quite slow too, but he’s getting the results. Many don’t give him any chance, but I’m not one of them.
World number 84 Sunny Akani scored a shock 6-0 win over Barry Hawkins at the Betway UK Championship to set up fourth round clash with Ronnie O’Sullivan.
With Kyren Wilson losing to Ricky Walden, tonight’s results mean that only four of the world’s top 16 are through to the last 16 at the York Barbican.
Thailand’s 22-year-old Akani turned pro in 2015 and he has since shown signs of his potential, notably reaching the quarter-finals of the Indian Open last season, but victory over world number eight Hawkins is the best result of his career so far. The former Asian under-21 champion will face his idol O’Sullivan on Thursday evening.
He made breaks of 55 and 59 tonight and won each of the other four frames on the colours to send three-time ranking event winner Hawkins home.
“Today I played pretty well and didn’t miss any easy shots,” said Akani, who beat Fergal O’Brien and Michael Holt in the first two rounds. “And I was lucky that when I did miss, Barry could not punish me too badly.
“He is a really top player so it is a great win for me. It wasn’t a good day for him and the balls landed awkwardly when he was at the table.
“I get a lot of fans back in Thailand watching my matches. It is tough succeeding as a professional, there is so much to learn but I have tried very hard to improve from every experience I have during the season.
“This is a very big tournament and I am really enjoying it, I have felt like I have played better this season and I hope I can continue playing at this standard or even better.”
Shaun Murphy booked his fourth round spot with a 6-3 win over Jimmy Robertson. World number six Murphy made breaks of 68 and 88 in building a 3-1 lead before Robertson won frame five on the final pink and frame six with an excellent 90 clearance.
Murphy, the 2008 UK Champion, regrouped and made 93 and 60 to lead 5-3. Robertson looked set to take frame nine until he missed the penultimate red when 40 points ahead, and that proved his last shot as Murphy cleared with 41.
Walden continued his return to form, having suffered injury problems in recent months, with a 6-2 win over Wilson. Chester’s Walden, twice a semi-finalist in this event, fired breaks of 82, 56, 116, 69 and 50.
China’s Xiao Guodong saw off Thailand’s Noppon Saengkham 6-3 with a top break of 79.
Last 16 line up:
Li Hang v Ryan Day
Mark Joyce v Lyu Haotian
Shaun Murphy v Ricky Walden
Mark King v John Higgins
Graeme Dott v Stephen Maguire
Joe Perry v Mark Allen
Ronnie O’Sullivan v Sunny Akani
Martin Gould v Xiao Guodong
From now on all matches will be either on television or on stream as we go to the two tables setup.