Day 5 in Ally Pally was a very strange one, and not a happy one for Ronnie fans or “Willo” fans, nevermind for fans of both like me. As I wrote on twitter, at least the crumble I cooked was great!
Anyway, here is what happened …
Mark Allen played extremely well in beating Ronnie by 6-1. Many didn’t take Ronnie seriously when he said that he wasn’t feeling well after his last 16 demolition of Marco Fu, but it was clear for all to see yesterday that he wasn’t quite right. After the first frame that Ronnie won, Allen pretty much kept him in his chair, and when he came to the table Ronnie was unable to build anything telling. He keeps saying that he doesn’t care but, to me, the aftermath of the match tell a different story. Defeat DID hurt.
If anything Mark Willams defeat at the hands of Kyren Wilson was even more unexpected. “Willo” didn’t suggest that he had any health issues, and he beat Mark Selby, the World Champion and World n°1 in the last 16. Yet, against Kyren Wilson he struggled badly and missed some apparently very easy balls in about every frame. He had loads of occasions. Kyren was the better player, tactically strong, but not at his best either. It wasn’t a high scoring match: at 4-0 to Wilson the highest break of the match was a mere 44.
Warrior Wilson lost to Ding Junhui on his debut last year but has risen to the occasion on his return to London, beating Barry Hawkins and now two-time World Champion Williams. Kettering’s 26-year-old Wilson will now face Shaun Murphy or Judd Trump on Saturday afternoon for a place in the final. World number 14 Wilson is already guaranteed a £50,000 pay day.
Tonight’s contest was the first of the tournament not to include a century break, but Wilson showed his match-play and tactical strength as he outplayed his far more experienced opponent. His top break before the interval was just 44 yet he took all four frames.
Wilson extended his lead with a run of 63 in frame five, then Welshman Williams took the next in three scoring visits to close to 5-1. But there would be no fight-back as Wilson sealed victory in frame seven with a 76.
“I’m very pleased to get through, ” said Wilson, whose only pro title to date was the 2015 Shanghai Masters when he beat Trump in the final. “The balls went awkward in a lot of frames but I didn’t miss many balls. I’ve got different attributes to my game, I can score heavily when I need to and then go tactical when I need to. I made really good clearances to go 4-0 and 5-0 up which were very important.
“I was surprised at Mark’s performance but it is a hard venue to play in, in front of such a big crowd. The balls don’t always go nice for you. Mark struggled to find momentum and put his stamp on the match. I’ve got another game to improve on my performance. It will be another tough match against either Shaun or Judd, they are both very attacking and aggressive.
“I believed from the start that I could win this. I have put in a lot of good performances this season, getting to a couple of finals and scoring heavily. I feel I am improving.”
Williams said: “I was very poor. I wasn’t expecting to play like that, it’s probably the worst I have played this season. I wasn’t really in the match. I lost 6-1 but Kyren didn’t play that well either. At 5-0 I just wanted him to clear up. I knew I was out and I just didn’t want to be there. I still tried my best but there was just nothing there.”
So there you have it … That I got my predictions wrong is the mother of all understatements. And, actually, I wish it continues today at least regarding one of the matches.