Day 6 in Alexandra Palace saw the completion of the QF stage and once again players who had played really well in the last 16, weren’t able to carry his form in the next round. BTW, Ronnie was back in the ES studio, on the couch with Colin, Jimmy and Neil.
Shaun Murphy was nowhere near as good as he had been against Ali Carter, whilst Judd Trump improved on his first round form. The first part of the match was a bit disappointing, both players appeared to struggle. But that changed after the MSI and it became a really good contest.
John Higgins played really well and had far too much for Day who was under pressure from the start and never really managed to put Higgins under any form of pressure in return.
Trump won 6-4 to reach the semi-finals at Alexandra Palace and set up a match with Kyren Wilson on Saturday afternoon. It’s the third time Trump has reached the last four of snooker’s biggest invitation event, having done so in 2012 and 2016, and he’s aiming to make the final for the first time.
World number three Trump rose to the occasion at the business end today and will now be confident of going on to win his first Triple Crown title since the 2011 UK Championship. He’s also seeking his second title of the season having win the European Masters in October.
The 28-year-old from Bristol took the opening frame with a break of 57 and the second with an excellent 60 clearance. Frame three lasted 31 minutes and went Murphy’s way as he cleared from yellow to pink.
Midway through the fourth, Murphy found the wasps buzzing around his head and there was delay of several minutes as he waited for the insects to fly away. It was Trump who took the frame to go 3-1 ahead.
Murphy, who won the Masters in 2015, made a 54 in taking frame five and he had first chance in the sixth but missed the blue to a baulk corner on 15 and his opponent punished him with 91. World number six Murphy hit back with a break of 95 to close to 4-3.
In frame eight, Trump was on 12 when he was unlucky to knock a red in when splitting the pack, allowing Murphy to make 59 which levelled the match. But it was Trump who stepped up to the plate as breaks of 111 and 113, his first centuries of the tournament, saw him clinch victory in style.
“It was similar to my first game (against Liang Wenbo), I got over the line pretty well,” said Trump. “The game started very scrappy, we were wary of each other. After five or six frames, the standard picked up and we both played good snooker.
“I did well to get a lead at the interval. I kept my head at 4-4 and was pleased with the last two frames. I wanted to carry on and keep playing. That’s a good feeling to have rather than be nervous and itching to get over the line.
“It will be another tough game against Kyren. He’s the favourite, the way he’s playing. I’ve been to the semis and lost so hopefully I can get through this time. We’ll both be eager to win so let’s see what happens. If I beat him then there’s no point getting to the final and losing.”
As for the six-legged intruders, Trump joked: “It could have been the same wasps making Ronnie dizzy yesterday!”
Murphy added: “I’m terrified of wasps! Who likes wasps? But Judd showed his class at the end. He’s an incredible scorer. I just couldn’t get ahead. I had a couple of chances to get on top and I didn’t take them. If Judd scores like he did in the second session of that match, he’ll usually win.”
The result means that John Higgins – who plays Ryan Day tonight – is the only former Masters champion left in the field.
The Wizard of Wishaw has experienced highs and lows at this tournament over the past 24 years, winning it twice but also suffering 12 first round exits. He has looked sharp so far this week at Alexandra Palace and now faces Mark Allen on Saturday evening for a place in the final. Victory would put Higgins into the final for the first time since 2006, when he beat Ronnie O’Sullivan 10-9.
Higgins has met Allen three times at the Masters and lost all three, though he’ll prefer to remember their 2009 World Championship semi-final clash which he won 17-13.
World number five Higgins won the opening frame tonight then Welshman Day levelled with a break of 83. From that point 42-year-old Higgins dominated, taking five frames in a row with runs of 61, 63, 65, 113 and 80.
“I played pretty solid tonight,” said Higgins, who won his 29th ranking title at the Indian Open earlier this season. “Ryan will be disappointed with the way he played. I wondered if he had put a new tip on because he seemed to be struggling with side. I just said to myself to try to keep things tight and not take anything crazy, and to make him try to force the game. To win 6-1 is a brilliant result for me.
“Mark Allen and I have always had really good games here and he has come out on top. I’m sure tomorrow will be a packed house, Mark will raise his game and I’ll have to raise mine. It should be a great game. I have every respect for him and rate him highly. Over the years he has had to contend with the likes of Selby, Robertson, Ding and Trump, never mind Ronnie and myself. So it’s difficult, but he’ll fancy it now he has beaten the favourite in O’Sullivan. He won’t fear anyone else.
“Mark hasn’t been in many semis at the big BBC events but neither have I lately. I might be feeling the nerves a bit but I’ll try to block that out. I feel good about my game.”
We have two semi finals today
Judd Trump will face Kyren Wilson and this will be a very interesting one. In my view, Kyren is tactically the best player and I wouldn’t be surprised if he managed to break Judd’s fluency and win in a rather broken play type of game.
John Higgins is now seen as the favourite to take the title, but my guess is that Mark Allen will have something to say about that. Being the underdog might suit him. He’s very aggressive, and certainly hungry as well. I believe he can win this.