The Welsh Open 2018 started on Monday in Cardiff. The tournament has an kind of random draw, with only the top 16 placed apart from each other, so it’s bound to yield some tough matches from the start, therefore some “shocks”.
Ronnie is one of those who did indeed get a tough draw: he was due to play Robin Hull first, then almost certainly Graeme Dott next. Robin Hull illness means that Ronnie got a bye, and he will indeed face Graeme Dott this afternoon. This means that Ronnie was in the studio, and in the commentary box, yesterday. He delivered this very positive and interesting interview: listen to it here.
He absolutely right about the amateur game state, and the consequences of it for the future of the sport.
Other than that, here is what happened at the Motorpoint Arena
Here are the reports on Worldsnooker
Judd Trump narrowly avoided a shock defeat on day one of the ManBetX Welsh Open in Cardiff, scraping a 4-3 win over Duane Jones.
World number 113 Jones was just six pots away from clearing up in the deciding frame, but missed the yellow with the rest, allowing Trump to edge into the last 64 and a match with Noppon Saengkham or Ross Muir. Bristol’s Trump, ranked third, lost 9-8 to Stuart Bingham in the final here last year and hopes for another deep run at one of his favourite venues.
Trump led 3-1 with a top break of 87 then Welshman Jones took frame five with a run of 93 and won the next on the colours for 3-3. In the decider, Trump built a 61-0 lead, then Jones had an opportunity to snatch victory but after narrowing the gap to 25 points, his missed yellow to a baulk corner proved costly. Trump potted yellow and green which was enough to put him into round two.
“It was a battle – Duane played well in his home tournament,” said eight-time ranking event winner Trump. “He is a solid player and he has improved. I missed too many balls during the match and got unlucky a few times.
“My results this season have been mixed, I have been inconsistent. Mentally maybe I am not as strong as some of the other players because I get spells where I don’t want to play and I struggle to get up for some events. But I like this one because I feel close to home, I get a lot of support and I have always wanted to win it. I was gutted to lose in the final last year.”
Jackson Page made headlines last year when he reached the third round when competing as a 15-year-old schoolboy, and he enjoyed another winning start by beating Sean O’Sullivan 4-3. Welshman Page, now 16, is still an amateur but was handed a place in the tournament after Joe Swail pulled out last week. And he took advantage by coming from 3-2 down to win the last two frames on the colours.
Page now faces defending champion Stuart Bingham, who recovered from losing the first frame to beat Chen Zhe 4-1 with top breaks of 118, 83 and 64.
Graeme Dott continued his fine recent form with a 4-0 win over Sanderson Lam, top scoring with 83 and 77. Dott will now play Ronnie O’Sullivan, who was handed a bye because his opponent Robin Hull withdrew for medical reasons.
Australia’s Kurt Dunham scored the best win of his career so far, beating Welshman Ryan Day 4-2 with top runs of 84, 57 and 103. China’s Yan Bingtao came from 3-1 down to beat veteran Jimmy White 4-3, firing 69, 58 and 110 in the last three frames.
Ding Junhui eased to a 4-0 win over Hammad Miah with a top break of 89 while Neil Robertson made an 88 in a 4-1 defeat of Mark Davis.
Masters champion Mark Allen recovered a 2-1 deficit to beat Cao Yupeng 4-2 thanks to runs of 119, 72 and 56.
In the last match of the evening to finish, World Champion Mark Selby looked in fine form as he beat Christopher Keogan 4-2 with top breaks of 143 and 100.
Some interesting comments there by Judd Trump, as close to an honest admission of the state of his game as I have seen this season. But he had to mention bad luck…
Kurt Dunham did indeed play very well but he was helped by the fact that his opponent, Ryan Day, was playing with a brand new cue and clearly struggled with his long potting. When I write “helped”, what I mean is this: Kurt has won next to nothing in the year and a half he’s turned pro, he certainly didn’t come into this match feeling confident. But Day misses allowed Kurt to build some fluency, and to construct some good breaks early in the match and it’s all he needed to start playing and doing his ability justice. It’s very bad news for Day in the context of the race for the Crucible.
Gerard Greene registered the biggest shock of the ManBetX Welsh Open so far with a 4-0 first round whitewash over Shaun Murphy on Tuesday night.
World number 90 Greene scored one of his best wins in recent years as he outplayed an opponent 83 places above him in the rankings. Greene, age 44, goes through to the last 64 to face Stuart Carrington on Wednesday.
Former World Champion Murphy made several uncharacteristic errors as Greene won the first three frames with a top break of 65. Frame four came down to the colours and Murphy got the snooker he needed on the blue, but then elected to let his opponent play again from a tricky position, and Greene potted an excellent long blue to seal the match.
“I know if I play well and I can challenge anyone,” said Greene, who reached the Players Championship final in 2014. “Once I was 2-0 up I felt if I kept taking my chances and didn’t go for any crazy pots then I had a great chance of winning. Shaun was off his game today but that’s taking nothing away from me because I played well. It’s up there with my best wins. I feel a bit less pressure now than I have done in the past. I work full time at the snooker club which is handy because I can practise a lot.”
Murphy said: “It’s confusing rather than disappointing. I prepared well for this event but then played so badly. I made at least one cataclysmic error in every frame and Gerard put me away. He played very well, which shows how strong our game is from top to bottom.”
Home favourite Mark Williams made a strong start with a 4-2 win over Mark King. Breaks of 134 and 129 helped put Williams 3-0 ahead. King made a 104 as he fought back to 3-2, only for Williams to take frame six with a run of 60.
“I played well, it’s good to keep my form going,” said Williams, who has won the Northern Ireland Open and German Masters ranking titles within the past three months. “I have barely lost in the first round all season. I never thought I would have won two ranking events this season, and if I could get a third here that would be brilliant.”
Williams refused to be drawn into a war of words with Darren Morgan, who had accused his fellow Welshman of being a “bully” and a “keyboard warrior” in a dispute about the awarding of wild cards for this event. Asked about Morgan’s comments, Williams said: “I have nothing to add, I would rather talk about that match and the tournament. He has said what he’s said.” Watch Williams interviewed by BBC Wales
Four-time Welsh Open winner John Higgins came through a high quality match against Matthew Selt 4-2. Wishaw’s Higgins made breaks of 100 and 107 to lead 2-1, then compiled an excellent 65 clearance to win frame four. Selt pulled one back with a 71 before Higgins clinched the result in frame six with a 99.
Shoot Out champion Michael Georgiou kept his fine run of form going with a 4-0 win over Mitchell Mann, while World Grand Prix semi-finalist Stephen Maguire made a 102 in a 4-2 win over Joe Perry.
Iran’s Soheil Vahedi impressed in a 4-0 win over Alex Borg while former Masters and UK Champion Matthew Stevens beat Ken Doherty 4-1 with a top run of 98.
Kyren Wilson was on for a possible 147 – and a £20,000 bonus – in the third frame of his 4-1 win over Robert Milkins, but missed the black with one red left on 105.
Here are the pundits in the ES studio, including Ronnie, reviewing the Greene v Murphy match:
Other than Ronnie playing Graeme Dott, we have some interesting matches today:
John Higgins will play Stephen Maguire, the latter needing points to secure his crucible spot. Mark Selby faces Liang Wenbo in a serious clash of styles, Jack Lisowski vs Lyu Hao Tian should be an all out attack potting fest, and it will be interesting to see how Judd Trump copes with the dangerous Noppon Saengkham.