Two more predictions proved right yesterday as Ryan Day duly beat Ding Junhui, from 3-0 down, and Judd Trump survived a spirited fight back from Liang Wenbo.
Day had not previously played in snooker’s biggest invitation event since 2010, two years before it moved to its current venue. He has climbed back into the top 16 this season, winning his first ranking title at the Riga Masters and reaching the semi-finals of the UK Championship.
And after a slow start the Welshman showed fine form today as he knocked out fourth seed Ding, who won this title in 2011. Day goes through to a quarter-final clash with John Higgins or Anthony McGill on Friday evening.
China’s Ding dominated the early stages and made breaks of 111 and 58 in taking the first three frames. Back came Day with 79, 125 and 105 as he recovered to 3-3. Frame seven came down to a safety battle on the last red, and Ding failed to escape from a snooker, which allowed his opponent to clear and take the lead.
In the eighth, Ding was on a break of 62 when he accidentally touched the blue when using the rest, trying to pot the third-last red. Day took advantage with a 41 clearance to lead 5-3. Ding pulled one back with a run of 100 but Day responded in kind with a 115, the fifth century of the match, to seal victory.
“At 3-0 I didn’t feel as though I had done a great deal wrong,” said 15th seed Day. “I needed to keep calm and be patient. To win the fourth frame in one visit and to get to the interval on a high was key.
“As long as you stay calm and don’t lose your focus then the match can turn quite quickly. It was a great atmosphere, it was a full house. It’s a great place to play snooker.
“It’s going be a tough game in the quarter-finals but I’m looking forward to it. You just play the table in front of you and hope that your form comes out. To play in a great arena like this with one table is what we practise for.”
Ding said: “Ryan played great, I missed a couple of pots and he came back like Superman. I got a few chances at 3-3 and 4-3 but little bits of luck went against me.”
Although there were five centuries in this match, the standard wasn’t that great. As Neil Robertson observed whilst commenting from the ES studio, there were loads of mistakes – quite elementary mistakes at their level – from both players during the fist minutes of nearly every frame. Ryan Day, who used to be vulnerable to pressure in the past, deserves every credit for the way he held himself together and patiently waited for his form to come out. But Ding fans must be very worried. In my opinion he really could do with someone like Steve Peters.
Sporting a new striped Christian Dior shirt, Trump looked the part as he fired five breaks over 50 in an impressive win over China’s Liang. World number three Trump goes through to face Shaun Murphy or Ali Carter on Friday afternoon (tickets for that session still available, for details click here).
Now making his eighth Masters appearance, Trump has never reached the final and will hope for a deep run this week at Alexandra Palace.
He took the opening frame today with a 50 clearance. Liang potted ten reds with blacks in frame two and although his 147 hopes ended when he missed a tough 11th red, his run of 80 was enough to make it 1-1.
Bristol’s Trump then pulled away as breaks of 83, 72 and 58 helped him build a 5-1 lead. Liang threatened a fight-back as runs of 58, 139 – the new front runner for the £10,000 high break prize – and 116 saw him close to 5-4.
Liang had a scoring chance early in frame ten, but missed a risky pot on the green to a baulk corner, and Trump punished him with a match-winning 85.
“I thought Liang was negative early in the match, he was over-thinking everything,” said Trump, whose best moment so far this season came with victory at the European Masters in October. “After that he relaxed more and started playing well, he put me under a bit of pressure so I was pleased to take my chance to win 6-4. Every win in this event is a good result.”
As for the outfit, Trump joked: “It’s just a shirt, it doesn’t make me play any better!”
This was probably the best match of the last 16 so far. Judd’s shirt got a lot of stick on social media but, although I don’t really this one it myself, I appreciate every effort players make to break the monotony of the dress code outfit…, yes even Yan Bingtao’s red outfit. In the past players used to wear some quite original waistcoats, and even frills. Not always in the best of taste but at least they weren’t all dressed the same. More seriously though, some of the things Judd said in the ES studio at the end of the match are a bit strange and, to be honest, a bit worrying. Him claiming that he doesn’t like to play anyone, and that Liang “didn’t scare him this time“, sounds weird and not a sign of the best state of mind or confidence. I believe that the weight of unfulfilled expectations – including his own – is dragging Judd down. Maybe he too could do with some “Peters” advice.