It was a very bitter-sweet day at Alexandra Palace yesterday, far more bitter than sweet actually.
It started with the very sad news that Jethro Salmon, one of the fitters, had died. Jethro was only 25 and very much appreciated by all. Here is Worldsnooker statement:
All at World Snooker are greatly saddened to hear the news that Jethro Salmon, a table fitter for World Snooker Services, has passed away at the age of 25.
Jethro was an excellent and valued table fitter as well as a very popular character backstage on the circuit and will be missed by everyone who knew him. Our sincere condolences go to Jethro’s family.
A minute’s silence was held in the arena at Alexandra Palace before the start of the match between Ronnie O’Sullivan and Marco Fu.
After the match, O’Sullivan said: “It’s the most horrendous thing, to lose someone at the age of 25 who has been on the circuit with us. Before the match there was a feeling that it is a really horrible day. My heart goes out to his family, we’re with them all the way. The snooker circuit is one big family and we’ve lost a member.
“I’m not a philosophical person but sometimes you have to realise what is important, and things like snooker, how many Masters I have won, how many Worlds I have won – it really doesn’t matter. What’s most important is that you live life to the maximum because you don’t know what is around the corner.”
This is terrible news, and my thoughts are with Jethro’s family and friends, and with his colleagues who must be terribly saddened and shocked but will still, I’m sure, do their job to the best of their ability.
There was a minute of silence before the introduction of the players for the first match on the day, and the usually raucous London crowd showed their respect to the young man. Rob Walker admitted that this was the hardest intro he ever had to do.
Speaking to the press after his match, shared some words of comfort to Salmon’s family.
“It’s so sad you know, such a young guy – 25 years of age. It just goes to show everything I’ve done today… it really doesn’t matter.
“Every day you get you need to appreciate, and love, and enjoy.
“Someone’s been robbed of that, and their family, and we’re all devastated because it’s terrible.
“It shows just how insignificant we are in this game.
“I cant imagine what it’d be like to lose my child before i go. I couldn’t think of anything worse.”
Now onto the action
Ronnie produced a masterclass in beating Marco Fu by 6-0, restricting him to only 35 points in the whole match, 17 of them resulting from fouls. You can read everything about that match here.
Wilson made his debut at Alexandra Palace last year and lost to Ding Junhui, but this time the 26-year-old was delighted to progress to the quarter-finals. He’ll face Mark Williams on Thursday evening (limited tickets still available – click here for details).
Talented Wilson won his first title at the 2015 Shanghai Masters and has since jumped to 14th in the world. Last week he admitted his frustration at taking more than two years to win his second piece of silverware and he’ll hope this could be the moment to end that drought.
Hawkins started strongly tonight with breaks of 131 and 120 in taking a 2-1 lead. Kettering’s Wilson hit back to take three of the next four frames, top scoring with 109 and 106, to lead 4-3. World number seven Hawkins, runner-up here two years ago, made an 85 to square the match.
In frame nine, Wilson led 38-5 when he went for a tough long red, missed it by several inches but fluked another red into a centre pocket. That set him up for a run of 29 to lead 5-4.
The tenth came down to a safety battle on the last red and fortune favoured Wilson again as he got out of a snooker when he trailed 49-26 and left his opponent trapped behind the green, with the red over a top corner. Hawkins couldn’t escape and Wilson seized the opportunity to finish the match.
“I was a lucky boy towards the end but I was pleased with the way I took the chance,” said Wilson. “I have had a few flukes against me this season and it is sickening. When you get a bit of luck you have to make it count.
“It was an enjoyable match which flowed well with a lot of big breaks. Barry started well and that kicked me into gear. I’m really pleased to get my first win here and excited for my next match. I came down to the venue yesterday and got used to the surroundings, which helped me prepare for tonight.
“Mark Williams has been playing well and he is a legend of the game but hopefully I can stop him on Thursday.”
This was actually a very good match, and it’s a shame that it was eventually decided by two massive flukes in the last two frames of the match. There was really nothing to separate the players until then. Of course Kyren still had to make the most of his pieces of luck and he duly did, but Barry looked aggrieved and that’s understandable. The match deserved a decider.