So after day 5 at the Crucible, we lost another seed and former World Champion in Neil Robertson, but, with John Higgins and Mark Williams winning, the “Class of 92” is in the last 16.
Judd Trump was very composed during the first session of his match against Chris Wakelin, who, himself was very good overall, especially considering that he’s a debutant. Interestingly Judd’s approach to this year championship has been devoid of any bold claims and in this article he explains how and why he’s been away from social media. Probably the right decision.
Here are the reports on Worldsnooker:
Mark Williams completed an impressive 10-5 defeat of Jimmy Robertson to reach the second round of the Betfred World Championship.
Williams, Crucible king in 2000 and 2003, missed out on reaching the final stages last year after a 10-7 defeat to Stuart Carrington in qualifying.
This season the Welshman has transformed his fortunes, claiming a first ranking title since 2011 at the Northern Ireland Open and adding further silverware at the German Masters. In total he has now won 20 ranking events. Williams’ resurgence has seen him fly up the world rankings and he is now in 7th position.
World number 34 Robertson has appeared at the Crucible four times, but is yet to win his first match at the Theatre of Dreams. However, he can take solace from a season which has seen him reach a ranking quarter-final for the first time at the German Masters.
Williams dominated the opening session of this encounter, establishing a 7-2 advantage. It looked unlikely that Robertson would be able to overturn the extensive deficit. However, he started strongly this morning by taking the opening two frames.
Williams then snuffed out any thoughts of a comeback with a typically emphatic response, firing in the highest break of the tournament so far – a sublime run of 140. He backed that up with a break of 100 in the following frame to move one from victory and eventually emerged a 10-5 victor. He’ll now face either Neil Robertson or Robert Milkins in the second round.
“The damage was done in the first session really. It’s first to ten but the first frame was massive, and I beat him on the black and that put him under pressure. He should have won the first two frames really,” said the 43-year-old. “I’m coming into this tournament playing the best I’ve played for many years. I’ve got as good as chance as anyone left in the tournament.
“Neil Robertson is one of the best players in the world, but I don’t play the player, I never have. I just play the balls. Whoever it is I’m looking forward to it. I beat Robert Milkins 10-1 here in 2005, but you don’t beat people like that here anymore. I’d love to have another 147 against him just to see his face.”
Robertson said: “Mark played really well. Over the two sessions he was the better player. I missed a couple of good chances, but it’s tough because he doesn’t give you many, you’re glued to the baulk rail and in trouble all the time. He never really let me get going. It’s gutting to come here and lose again, but I’ll try hard to get back again next season.
“I love playing at the Crucible now. The first time I was here I was dreading it and was really nervous. This time I felt pretty good out there. It didn’t look like that maybe but that’s because he made it really tough for me. I enjoy playing here now, so I can’t wait to get back here.”
Meanwhile, four-time Crucible king John Higgins took a 6-3 lead over Thailand’s Thepchaiya Un-Nooh.
Scotland’s Higgins, who has won two ranking titles this season, took a 4-1 lead with top breaks of 62 and 51, then Crucible debutant Un-Nooh pulled two frames back.
In the eighth, Higgins potted 13 reds with blacks and looked on course for his first Crucible 147 until he missed a difficult penultimate red to a top corner on 104. He went on to win the last frame of the session to lead by three. They resume tonight at 7pm.
Robertson joins Mark Selby, Stuart Bingham, Shaun Murphy, Marco Fu and Luca Brecel as the top 16-ranked players to exit the tournament within the first five days. It’s the second time he has lost to world number 37 Milkins at the Crucible, having done so in 2013.
World number ten Robertson has won two titles this season – the Scottish Open and Hong Kong Masters – but has failed to make an impact on the Triple Crown events, losing in the last 32 of the World and UK Championship and not even qualifying for the Masters.
Gloucester’s Milkins is through to the last 16 in Sheffield for the third time and will now face Mark Williams.
Robertson, the 2010 World Champion, trailed 6-3 overnight but took a 48-minute opening frame today by potting pink and black then won the next to close to 6-5. The Australian had first chance in frame 12 but could only make 8 and his opponent compiled runs of 48 and 36 to go 7-5 ahead.
That proved the turning point as 42-year-old Milkins dominated the next three frames, knocking in breaks of 69, 55 and 54.
“The qualifiers have all had match practice and we’re sharp. I’ve got better every match I’ve played. It puts me in good stead for taking on Mark Williams. We are used to playing these seeded players more now because there are more tournaments. I’ve played Neil loads of times and I’ve beaten him already this year, so there’s no fear.
“I can only speak for myself, but I fear Ronnie! The first thing I looked at was which side of the draw he was in. Everyone knows they can beat Ronnie, I know I can but can I do it out there? To do it over that amount of frames it’s going to be very tough for anybody to beat him. If I do play him I want to play him in the quarter-finals not in the first round.”
Robertson said: “I had bad problems with my cue tip heading into the match, that was pretty evident last night. Rob played so well that he never allowed me to recover from that.
“I put on a new tip this morning and had an hour with it and it was alright, but going out there is completely different. But I’ve got to give Rob credit for how well he played, he was relentless throughout. I had a slight sniff at 6-5 but he rattled off the last four frames amazingly well.
“Long gone are the days where there are shocks in the first round. If I was a qualifier, unless I drew Ronnie O’Sullivan, I’d be quite happy to play anybody knowing I’ve won three matches in a week, against someone coming in cold. Rob came here with nothing to lose. He walks out to the cider drinker song and the crowd goes nuts. He has approached it the right way.
“Ten years ago there would probably be only two or three banana skins in the draw, now there are a lot more. It’s good for the game to have more players coming through, and not to have them crumble.
“For me to come away with two big trophies after a tough season away from the table, I’m pretty happy with that. I’m just disappointed not to have had a good run here as well.”
On the other table, world number four Judd Trump built a 6-3 lead over Chris Wakelin.
The highlight of the session was a superb 141 total clearance from Crucible debutant Wakelin in the fifth frame, the new front-runner for the £10,000 high break prize. He also compiled runs of 95 and 69 in a high quality session, while Trump knocked in 58, 64, 72 and 51.
They play to a finish on Thursday from 7pm.
John Higgins held off a spirited performance from Thepchaiya Un-Nooh to win 10-7 and reach the second round of the Betfred World Championship.
The four-time World Champion Higgins went on a run to the final last year and had looked set for fifth Crucible crown when he led Mark Selby 10-4. However, Selby charged back to inflict a heartbreaking 18-15 defeat on the Scot.
There has been no let-up from Higgins this season, he’s seen his ranking title tally rise to 30 with victories at the Indian Open and the Welsh Open and he will be a strong contender for the £425,000 top prize this week.
Crucible debutant Un-Nooh made himself the fifth player from Thailand to compete in the final stages of the World Championship by qualifying. The charismatic potter from Bangkok is one of the most exciting players to watch on the World Snooker Tour. He plays at breakneck speed with an average shot-time of 17.22 seconds, only Ronnie O’Sullivan plays quicker.
The match provided the fireworks that many predicted it would. Both players threatened to fire in the first maximum break at the Crucible since Stephen Hendry’s 147 in 2012. Higgins was first to attempt the magic break, potting 13 reds with 13 blacks before breaking down on 104. That came in an opening session which saw the Scot establish a 6-3 advantage.
When they returned the pair came storming out of the blocks, Un-Nooh composed a quick-fire break of 121 to reduce his deficit and Higgins responded with a contribution of 81 to make it 7-4. It was then the Thai’s turn to have a go at snooker’s perfect run.
Un-Nooh famously missed final blacks for 147 breaks on two occasions in the 2015/16 season, at the UK Championship and World Championship qualifying. Today he potted 14 reds and 14 blacks before missing the final red to the top left corner with his score at 112.
The Thai continued to impose himself on the match, closing the gap to 7-6 and then spurning an opportunity to restore parity. Higgins punished him with a break of 77 to move 8-6 ahead and eventually emerged a 10-7 victor.
Higgins will now face another quickfire opponent in the next round when he meets world number 30 Jack Lisowski.
Higgins said: “Thepchaiya maybe goes for one shot too many, but he’s brilliant to watch and I’m delighted to win 10-7. I knew he would hit me with maybe three frames where I wouldn’t get a shot. Tonight at 7-6, he took his eye off a red when he had me in all sorts of bother. I let him in but he missed the red when all the balls were there. I managed to get a two frame advantage again and that settled me down.
“I was disappointed not to make the 147. It’s difficult out there to make a maximum break, the pressure is pretty intense. I would love to do one here at the Crucible, it would be an amazing feeling. That’s something I’ll try and do before my career finishes.
“It’s as if I’m playing an upgrade on Thepchaiya in the next round. A few years ago Jack Lisowski was maybe going for a shot too many, but he’s cut that out now. I believe he practices a lot with Judd Trump and Ronnie O’Sullivan, so if you don’t round your game to compete with those guys on the practice table, all you’ll be doing is picking balls out of pockets. He’s obviously learning off those guys, and he’s a totally different player now. He beat me over in China recently where he played great, and he’s another one who makes the game look ridiculously easy. But I’ll enjoy the game and look forward to it.”
Afterwards Un-Nooh was disappointed to once again miss out on a maximum break prize, with potentially £50,000 up for grabs for a maximum break.
“I was thinking about the big prize money! I wanted to show my supporters that I could do it, but I missed the last red. It was really hard to get back for the black and I missed it,” said Un-Nooh. “It annoyed me, it got on my mind. The last blacks from two years ago still haunt me. The thoughts of those two black balls came into my mind, so I missed the red.”
Ryan Day established a 6-3 lead against world number 14 Anthony McGill in the opening session of their first round meeting.
Welshman Day narrowly missed out on automatic qualification for the Crucible, finishing the China Open ranked 17th. After dropping only nine frames at qualifying he appears to have carried that form over to the Theatre of Dreams.
He moved 2-0 ahead with a sublime break of 141. However, McGill showed great character to hit back with breaks of 65 and 75 and draw level at the mid-session.
When they returned Day moved 4-3 in front and crucially won an enthralling eighth frame. McGill required a snooker on the pink, which he got, before hammering home a superb long pot which left tricky position on the final black. He jawed it and left the final ball at Day’s mercy to go 5-3 up.
He hammered home his advantage in style with a tournament high break of 145 to make it 6-3. Amazingly that run saw Day become the first player in Crucible history to make two breaks of 140 or more in a single session.
They will play to a conclusion tomorrow at 1pm.