It was Quarter Finals day in York and it yielded this line-up for the Semi Finals today:
in the afternoon: Ronnie O’Sullivan v Stephen Maguire
in the evening: Shaun Murphy vs Ryan Day
And we are down to one table!
This was the preview by Hector Nunns and Rob Walker:
Here are the QF reports on Worldsnooker:
The Rocket lifted the trophy in 1993, 1997, 2001, 2007 and 2014 and victory on Sunday night would see him match Steve Davis’s record of six crowns. O’Sullivan is chasing the 31st ranking title of his career and third within two months having won the English Open and Shanghai Masters. First, he will have to win a semi-final clash on Saturday afternoon (1pm start) against Stephen Maguire, who beat Joe Perry 6-3.
World number four O’Sullivan was off to a tremendous start today as breaks of 107 and 106 put him 2-0 up. He got the better of a fragmented third frame then took the fourth by clearing from the last red. And a 55 clearance in the next put him on the brink of victory at 5-0.
Londoner Gould made a spirited fight back by taking the next three frames with runs of 101, 61 and 70. But O’Sullivan’s 94 in frame nine put him into the last four. The result ends Gould’s hopes of a place in the Masters as he remains 18th in the race to Alexandra Palace.
O’Sullivan said: “I just battled and tried to be professional and leave every ounce I’ve got in me on the table. I’ve given up analysing it any more, I just go out there and just try to do my best. Today was probably a bit better than yesterday. I’m kind of detached and I won’t allow myself to get sucked in, I’m here on a bit of a vacation and I’ve picked up a bit of Christmas shopping money and had a bit of fun.
“Stephen Maguire is a great player, he’s been around for a long time and he’s hitting the ball well so hopefully it’ll be a good match for everyone. I really like him as a person, he’s a top guy – if he battered me I’d still be his mate.”
Maguire’s match followed an identical pattern as he raced into a 5-0 lead before fending off a late fight back. Glasgow’s 36-year-old Maguire is through to his first ranking semi-final since he lost to Ryan Day in the final of the Riga Masters in June.
Perry had chances in each of the first three frames but couldn’t take them and Maguire won all three on the colours. The Scot then made a 76 to go 4-0 up and added the fifth with a superb 61 clearance. Perry took the next three with top runs of 57 and 61 before Maguire completed the scoreline with a break of 75.
“I’ve never lost a match from 5-0 up so when it came back up to 5-3 I thought that was a frame that I seriously wanted to win, because if it goes to 5-4 then anything can happen,” said five-time ranking event winner Maguire. “So I was willing to play a bit more safety in the last frame and wait for my chance.”
In 2004 at this event, O’Sullivan said that Maguire could “rule the game for the next ten years.” Recalling that tournament today, Maguire said: “That was a great win, I was up and coming then and I was fearless and everything went in. I’ve got battle scars now but I don’t think I’ve gone any more defensive, I still go for more or less everything I see.
“I hope it’s a great match tomorrow, I’m there to try my hardest and if I lose I’ll be devastated. Ronnie brings the crowd, he’s an entertainer and he’s one of the players that I’d pay money to watch. I actually think he’s playing better now than he’s ever done.”
Perry said: “It was a match of missed opportunities for me and a few early Christmas presents for Mr Maguire. I just keep plugging on, my game is definitely coming back but I missed too many easy balls today.”
King knocked out Luca Brecel and John Higgins in the previous two rounds but he was no match for world number six Murphy. Breaks of 71, 56, 78, 75 and 60 helped Murphy wrap up the result in just 102 minutes and set up a meeting with Ryan Day on Saturday evening.
Murphy is through to the last four of this event for the sixth time and is hoping to double his tally of UK titles having lifted the trophy in 2008. Victory tomorrow would see the 35-year-old through to his fourth final of the season having won the Champion of Champions and finished runner-up at the China Championship and Paul Hunter Classic.
“I knew I was up against one of the men to beat tonight because Mark knocked out John Higgins,” said Murphy, who beat Ricky Walden 6-1 in the previous round. “I had some luck tonight and on another day it could have been a lot closer. When my long potting is good I can be dangerous, and my safety game has been working for the last few weeks. It’s nice for everything to come together in a big week.”
Victory for Day also secured his place at next month’s Masters at Alexandra Palace. Liang Wenbo can still be knocked out of the top 16 seeds if Stephen Maguire beats Ronnie O’Sullivan in the other semi-final tomorrow.
Joyce came from 2-0 down to lead 3-2 with breaks of 54, 106 and 71. The next two frames were shared then Day made 55 and 111 to lead 5-4. Walsall’s Joyce got the better of frame ten to set up the decider.
Day had first chance and made 32 before missing a tricky red with the spider, then Joyce replied with 34 only to miss a red along the top cushion. Pontycymmer’s Day added 25 points which proved enough to cross the winning line.
“I am very relieved,” said world number 19 Day, who won his first ranking title at the Riga Masters in June. “It wasn’t a fantastic match. I won my previous two matches 6-5 so once I got to five frames tonight I was very confident I would win, even if it went to a decider. I fancied winning it in one visit but I got a kick on the red with the spider.
“One of my goals this week was to secure my Masters place as it’s a massive event and it’s been a while since I have played in it. Now I’m in the semis here and there are two more matches I’ve got to win.
“Shaun Murphy is a great player, we grew up together as juniors and played each other countless times so we both know what to expect. I’m really looking forward to it.”
Stephen Maguire is a very genuine lad and, speaking about Ronnie’s predictions that he would one day dominate the game, he expressed himself in a slightly more colourful way than reported above … Reading the press titles this morning some might be under the impression that we are in for a needle match. There is none of that, those titles are misleading. The two are good mates and in many ways very similar persons.
You can read the true story, both sides, here in the Express:
It’s all good-natured banter.
Regarding today’s matches:
I’d have Maguire slightly favourite over Ronnie, mainly because he is probably a lot fresher. Ronnie has won two tournaments and has been in another long final in the last 7-8 weeks, and has traveled between China and UK without much time to recover. But both will want to win and Ronnie nowadays is probably the more patient of the two if it becomes scrappy.
In the other match, I really don’t know. Day tends to be a bit shaky under huge pressure (although he’s improved on that recently) whilst Shaun Murphy always looks confident. On the other hand Day is playing the better snooker of the two for what I have seen. Shaun’s opponents got a lot of occasions, didn’t take them. I’d dare to say that Shaun has had the easiest route to the semi finals of all four still involved and hasn’t been really tested. yet.