Yesterday in Preston saw the last 16 round conclude in the afternoon, and the quarter-finals start in the evening.
Mark Selby sealed an emphatic 4-0 defeat of Neil Robertson to progress to the quarter-finals of the Ladbrokes World Grand Prix in Preston.
The world number one looked out of sorts in yesterday’s last 32 clash with Jimmy Robertson. However, he did turn on the style at the crucial moment, by firing in a run of 75 in the decider to win 4-3. Selby carried that momentum over to this afternoon’s clash.
The Thunder from Down Under dropped out of the world’s top 16 for the first time since 2006 last December, but bounced back immediately with victory at the Scottish Open the seven days later. However, this afternoon’s loss marks the end of Robertson’s quest to add to his trophy cabinet this week in Preston.
Selby began the match in commanding fashion, potting a long red from Robertson’s break off in the opening frame and compiling a sublime 134 to move 1-0 ahead. He didn’t take his foot off the gas and further breaks of 56, 68 and 55 helped him to storm to a comfortable whitewash victory.
He’ll face Michael White in the last eight, who eased to a 4-0 win over Joe Perry. Afterwards Selby admitted he was pleased with the improvement shown this afternoon following his first round display.
“I seemed to stamp my authority on the match from the start,” Selby told ITV. “I have pride in my performance and if I’m not playing well I do get down on myself. I think yesterday’s performance was a kick up the backside.”
Ding Junhui also put on a commanding performance to defeat Mark Joyce 4-1 and join Selby in the last eight.
China’s top star is locked with Robertson and Selby on 13 career ranking crowns and will be hoping that he can be the one to claim a 14th this week and move clear.
The two-time UK Champion’s largest contribution of the tie saw him hammer in a break of 134. Joyce takes the consolation of producing the highest break of the tournament so far with a run of 140 and is in line for the £5,000 high break prize if things stay that way.
Ding’s quarter-final opponent will be Anthony McGill, who was clinical in a 4-1 defeat of 2015 World Champion Stuart Bingham.
Victory for McGill, who is currently ranked 15th in the one-year list, is an important one in his bid to be one of the 16 players to progress to next month’s Ladbrokes Players Championship. Bingham will now need a strong showing in his defence of the Welsh Open next week to remain in the race to Llandudno.
The Scot rounded off this afternoon’s win in style with a break of 125 to get himself over the line with two frames to spare.
Every day is different! Mark Selby had been really poor in the first round but looked very sharp in the last 16. To his own admission, pride kicked in … and how! His opponent, Neil Robertson was far from his best though.
McGill produced a clean, efficient performance. As Alan McManus put it “Nothing fancy but excellent”. Stuart Bingham, on the other hand, was well below the form he had shown the day before.
In the evening, Ronnie needed only 55’59” to demolish Xiao Guodong, by 5-0, with a 99% pot success and 4 centuries to boot… what can you say? Even he was happy with the performance!
Here is the report on the evening session (Worldsnooker)
The Preston venue has seen some astonishing displays throughout its 40-year history of hosting major snooker events, such as Stephen Hendry’s 10-5 UK Championship final win over Ken Doherty in 1994, where the Scot compiled seven centuries. The Rocket went into overdrive this evening and the standard was up there with the best seen at the Guild Hall.
The 31-time ranking event winner opened proceedings with three consecutive century runs of 105, 102 and 101. Further breaks of 48 and 55 saw O’Sullivan go into the interval 4-0 up. He made short work of finding the one frame he needed when they returned, firing in a fourth century contribution of 106 to seal victory in just 75 minutes.
Xiao had already secured defeats of illustrious opposition this week in recent Masters champion Mark Allen and four-time World Champion John Higgins. However, he was no match for the five-time Crucible king O’Sullivan this evening. The Rocket clocked up a monstrous 522 points throughout the match to Xiao’s 45 and garnered a 99% pot success ratio in the process.
O’Sullivan, who is currently clear at the top of the one-year ranking list on £425,500, has already won three ranking titles this season at the English Open, Shanghai Masters and UK Championship. Few would bet against him adding to that tally this week, based on his display this evening.
“I do sometimes praise myself and that was a very good match. I can play like that quite a lot of the time, so you can understand when I don’t play like that why I get frustrated,” the 42-year-old told ITV. “I think a lot of it is to do with looking after myself. I’ve been working with a nutritionist and I feel like I’ve got more energy and feel a lot healthier.
“I think I have a slight advantage because I don’t need to chase ranking points and I’m not motivated by that. So I come in a lot fresher and that is where my longevity will come through.”
Stephen Maguire defeated 2005 World Champion Shaun Murphy 5-2 to reach his third semi-final of the season, where he will face O’Sullivan.
Maguire currently sits in 17th spot in the race to the Crucibleand a strong showing this week could prove to be pivotal as he aims to force his way into the top 16 on the latest provisional seedings and avoid having to go to World Championship qualifying.
The Scot was a finalist at the Riga Masters earlier in the season and reached the last four at the UK Championship in December, where he also faced O’Sullivan. On that occasion the five-time World Champion came out on top in an enticing battle 6-4 and tomorrow evening’s semi-final promises to be an equally exciting spectacle.
Of course, today is another day, and Stephen Maguire, who is battling to get back in the top 16 before the Crucible will be 100% up for the fight. He will probably have the strongest motivation of the two and he played well against Shaun Murphy (who was far from his best, it has to be said). The stats are against the Scot though as in 21 encounters, Ronnie has beaten him 17 times (source cuetracker). Whatever it should be a good match!
Thanks to Tai Chengzhe, and Ronnie who shared on FB, for these images!
2018 World Grand Prix: the preview of the Ronnie O’Sullivan – Xiao Guodong match
2018 World Grand Prix: the Ronnie O’Sullivan – Xiao Guodong match
2018 World Grand Prix: MSI of the Ronnie O’Sullivan – Xiao Guodong match