Yesterday in Preston saw the last matches of the last 32 played in the afternoon, and the first four matches of the last 16 played in the evening.
Here is Worldsnooker report on the afternoon session (last 32)
World number one Mark Selby scraped through his opening round clash with Jimmy Robertson 4-3 at the Ladbrokes World Grand Prix in Preston.
The manner of Selby’s victory was far from convincing. However, the Leicester potter showed his trademark tenacity and dug deep to set up a mouth watering last 16 clash with fellow 13-time ranking event winner Neil Robertson.
The World Champion suffered disappointing early exits at the season’s first two Triple Crown events the UK Championship and the Masters and is now looking to build momentum as the season gears towards the Crucible.
The opening frames saw both players craft good chances among the balls, but neither were able to fully capitalise and construct significant contributions. There was never more than a solitary frame between the pair this afternoon, but it was the Jester who produced his best at the vital moment.
With the scores locked at 3-3, Robertson spurned the first opportunity in the decider. Selby then stepped up to the plate and made a break of 75 to force himself over the line.
“I probably should have lost it,” said the World Champion. “I didn’t expect Jimmy to miss in the final frame and I thought he was going to win it in that visit. I was just happy to get a chance and when I did get one I managed to capitalise.
“Winning breeds confidence and if you aren’t winning then it goes the opposite way and you start doubting yourself, no matter what you have achieved in the past. Sometimes you start questioning yourself and go back to the practice table.”
Stuart Bingham secured a fine 4-2 victory over an in form Mark Williams to keep his hopes of clinching a place in the Ladbrokes Players Championship alive.
Bingham has just returned from a three-month suspension for breaching betting rules and he is hoping to hit the ground running this week, in a bid to climb into the top 16 of the one year list and qualify for Llandudno.
Williams produced a blistering display at the recent German Masters, winning 15 of 17 frames in the last four and the final to clinch his 20th ranking title. However, he surrendered a healthy lead this afternoon and fell at the first hurdle.
The 2015 World Champion Bingham trailed 2-0 and was 56-0 down in the third frame, before potting a superb red and clearing with 64 to mount an impressive fightback. He claimed four frames in a row to book a last 16 clash with Anthony McGill.
Ding Junhui brushed aside 2016 Northern Ireland Open champion Mark King 4-1 to secure his last 16 place.
China’s top star hasn’t won a ranking title outside of his home country for four years and will be hoping to end that run this week. He top scored this afternoon with a break of 75.
Ding will face Mark Joyce in the last 16, who came from 3-1 down to defeat Masters finalist Kyren Wilson 4-3.
Mark Selby was indeed very poor in his win over Jimmy Robertson, but he’s through, and, at the end of the day, it’s all that matters. Jimmy should have won it really, but most certainly a mix of lack of experience on the biggest stages and a relative frailty under pressure cost him eventually. He’s improving though and he certainly can play! As for Mark Selby, his tenacity can only be admired but if his game doesn’t improve I doubt that it will be enough against another Robertson, Neil, who he faces this afternoon.
Stuart Bingham is out to prove himself after his suspension. He played really well in beating Mark Williams. He looked a man on a mission out there!
Ronnie O’Sullivan came through a tough battle against Yan Bingtao 4-3 to reach the last eight of the Ladbrokes World Grand Prix in Preston – then accused snooker’s younger generation of being “flaky under the cosh.”
O’Sullivan, chasing his fourth ranking title of the season, had to come from 3-2 down at the Guild Hall to beat talented 18-year-old Yan. The Rocket will now meet John Higgins or Xiao Guodong on Thursday evening (tickets still available – click here for details).
A break of 121 gave O’Sullivan the opening frame then China’s Yan took the second on the colours and made a 71 to lead 2-1. O’Sullivan’s 58 made it 2-2 then his opponent compiled a run of 84 to regain the lead.
Yan had a chance for victory in frame six but could only make 49 and O’Sullivan cleared with 75 for 3-3. Both players had chances in the decider but O’Sullivan eventually won it 81-38 to progress to round three.
“I don’t think either of us played really well,” world number two O’Sullivan told ITV. “I had to dig in because I had no touch and feel. My timing was all over the place but my competitiveness kicked in and that’s why I won.
“Yan is a very good talent. I don’t know if he has got any bottle. A lot of the players that are meant to be doing the business, they’re not doing it because they don’t seem to be able to do it under pressure. It doesn’t matter how good you are – if you can’t perform under pressure then you’re going to get to quarters, semis and finals but then get found out.
“I think there are only four or five players on the circuit who have got any bottle. John Higgins has it, Stephen Hendry had it in abundance, Ding Junhui and Mark Selby have a bit of it – other than that they all get a bit flaky under the cosh.
“If you want to get to quarters and semis and be a journeyman that’s fine, but if you want to win tournaments you have to learn to win under pressure. Stephen (Hendry) taught me that when I was a kid, I watched him and realised I had to change my game and do certain things at certain times in a match.”
Michael Georgiou’s winning streak of eight consecutive matches ended as he went down 4-3 against Stephen Maguire. Coral Shoot Out champion Georgiou came from 3-0 down to 3-3 with top breaks of 57 and 68, only for Maguire to win the decider 70-17. Glasgow’s Maguire now meets Shaun Murphy or Jack Lisowski.
Personally I think that Ronnie was too harsh, both on himself and on his young opponent. For what I’ve seen so far this week, this was one of the best matches on display. yes, there were a few mistakes, but frankly, not that many. both played excellent safeties, both made big breaks.
Ronnie’s reflections on Yan possibly lacking the bottle were probably motivated by the feeling that his young opponent should have beaten him yesterday and didn’t because he managed to get the better of Yan mentally. It may well be so, but, of course, Yan is only 18 and Ronnie has 25 years experience as a top pro. Give the kid some time to develop Ron!
Big thanks to Tai Chengzhe for these images
There was also an incident with the ref, Jan Scheers, who insisted on replacing the cue ball in a certain spot when the TV image clearly showed it wasn’t there originally and Ronnie sticking to his guns and refusing to play the shot until it was right. I was watching on ES with French commentary (they are clueless, honestly, not knowing the rules, not recognising a “snookers required” situation, not even knowing the players’ names sometimes!) and the commentator was giving Ronnie a lot of stick, claiming that the ref was right and that Ronnie was trying to disrupt the match … when the images before/after on the screen were clearly showing that the ball was definitely not where it should be by about 10cm!
I also watched most of the Higgins vs Xiao match. The standard was not as good as the ROS vs Yan match, but Xiao certainly doesn’t lack bottle. He showed his will to win again yesterday evening, against an inconsistent John Higgins who mixed the sublime with the poor. Once again, this match exposed the fact that Higgins isn’t anymore the man he used to be under pressure IMO. Xiao will be Ronnie’s opponent tonight and, although I make Ronnie slightly favourite, I expect a close match.