It was a rather eventful day at the Crucible yesterday.
It started quietly though, with Barry Hawkins efficiently finishing the job and booking his place in the quarter finals. His young opponent, Lyu Haotian, did impress though. He trailed by 5 frames at a point, came back and stayed with Barry until the very last mini session. Lyu is a perfectionist who is easily harsh on himself and that drags him down sometimes. But he should take a lot of positives from his Crucible debut and, if he does, he will be very dangerous next season.
Kyren Wilson was equally efficient against Jamie Jones and he’s certainly a contender for the title. He did damage his tip in the frame before the last, but he should be ok as he has a spare, bedded, tip ready. He will face Mark Allen in the QF and I’m certain that both players will be fired up for this.
John Higgins completely outplayed Jack Lisowski in their first session. I didn’t see any of it, but was told by a reliable source that Jack was missing all sorts and John capitalising on the mistakes. The first session between Robert Milkins and Mark Williams was a rather disjoint affair featuring a lot of careless snooker. I struggled to stay focused on the “action”: it was poor and watching it on Eurosport with French commentary added a touch of surrealism. Here is just one of the gems they came up with: “Robert Milkins reminds me of Cliff Thorburn” … now if you can explain this to me, please do in commentary!
Ali Carter beat Ronnie, fair and square, playing as well as I have ever seen him play. He was absolutely determined to win and it showed. There was a minor incident in the match as Ronnie “barged” Ali’s shoulder and allegedly called him Mr Angry. The press made a big fuss of it, but here is Neal Foulds (on twitter) sensible assessment of the incident
Heat of the moment, nothing worse. Don’t underestimate how much everyone wants to win at Crucible. Quality handshake at the end of the match between two blokes who played it tough. That’s the game
Neal has been a top player himself, he knows first hand how much pressure are on the players and how high emotions can run. Actually, Ali quite often looks angry, and he certainly did again yesterday at the table. Both him and Ronnie are quite emotional guys, and Ali had to face an awful lot over the last years. Crohn disease is extremely draining and painful; it does nothing for anyone’s good mood. Ali was in hospital again only the week before the tournament. He deserves a lot of credit for his performance yesterday and Ronnie was only full of praise afterwards. As Neal pointed out, the handshake was friendly and both players downplayed the incident. But Ronnie wasn’t happy with the press making a big deal of it and I can understand why. Putting the focus on a minor heat of the moment clash, rather than on the positive things happening at the table may be selling papers, and appealing to chief editors, but isn’t the best way to promote the sport. Why not put the focus on how well Ali played out there instead? Why not big up the preview of the Allen v Wilson rematch of the Masters final? Why not do a feature on young Lyu, who at 20 looks like a real prospect despite going through some terrible times when he came first on the tour at 15, far too young and lost in an alien culture?
Oh … and Mark Williams “barged” Brendan Moore. Where is the press coverage???
And while we are into barges…
2018 WSC: Ronnie O’Sullivan: Home From Home on his barge (Eurosport)
Here are the reports on Worldsnooker:
Hawkins looked in danger of a surprise defeat when China’s 20-year-old Lyu came from 8-3 down to level at 10-10. But experience told for 39-year-old Hawkins as he won the last three frames to book a meeting with Ding Junhui or Anthony McGill in the next round.
World number six Hawkins is the only player to have got to the last eight in Sheffield every year since 2013. He was runner-up to Ronnie O’Sullivan that year, and has since got to the semi-finals three more times, including 2017 when his run was ended by John Higgins.
After a slow start to the current season – his game affected by a family tragedy – Hawkins has shown improved form in recent weeks, reaching the final of both the Welsh Open and the China Open.
The Londoner looked to be cruising to victory at 8-3 up against Lyu, but finished the second session just 9-7 in front, and this morning Lyu started strongly with breaks of 91 and 100 to draw level at 9-9.
Hawkins regained the lead in frame 19 and in the 20th he led by 18 points with just pink and black left. But, trapped in a tough snooker, he went in-off after hitting the pink, handing Lyu the chance to pot pink and black and level at 10-10 at the interval.
World number 68 Lyu, who beat Marco Fu on his Crucible debut in the first round, also had first chance in frame 21 but could only make 46. Hawkins replied with 54, then converted an excellent pot on the penultimate red to a centre pocket, and added 23 to go 11-10 up. That proved the turning point as he fired runs of 132 and 76 in the next two frames to cross the winning line.
“I’m really pleased to win that match,” said three-time ranking event winner Hawkins. “He wouldn’t go away. I missed a couple of balls at 8-4 yesterday and he just kept potting balls. I couldn’t shake him off, it was a really good standard.
“I lost a big frame to go 10-10, and it was a horrible way to lose it. I knew the in-off was on but I didn’t want to under-swerve it and miss it on the other side. That was tough to take but I’ve got to give myself credit for coming out and winning the next three frames. I showed a little bit of bottle out there and finished off the match really well.
“There’s no better place to play than the Crucible. I’m up for it more, my focus seems to be better here. It’s a nice feeling to be able to chill out now for a couple of days, watching everyone else slog it out.
“Lyu is unbelievable. If he carries on like that he’ll go far. When he’s at the top of the game I’ll be long gone!”
Lyu said: “At 10-10 I had a good feeling but the frame after that was the key moment. My choice of safety led to a mistake and Barry played well. I had my chances but didn’t take them.
“I have done well here but my lack of experience, shot selections and safety lost me the match. I will be working on those to try and catch up.
“I was feeling fine throughout the game, not that nervous. I was feeling up for the job. I’m looking forward to coming back, it’s a great atmosphere. The crowd are really enthusiastic and different from any other event.
“I’ve had a good season, but I hope next season can be even better. I want to improve my skills and stay more competitive.”
Meanwhile, Kyren Wilson took control of his second round match with Jamie Jones, surging 11-5 ahead. Ninth seed Wilson is looking to reach the quarter-finals for the third year in a row and needs just two more frames when they resume at 7pm.
Kettering’s Wilson made a 63 clearance in the first frame today to go 6-3 up, then Welshman Jones hit back with an 80 clearance in frame ten. Wilson won the 11th and led 37-0 in the 12th when he missed a black off its spot. Jones punished him with an 83 clearance to trail just 7-5 at the interval.
Wilson made a yellow to black clearance to win a scrappy 13th frame, then pulled away to take the next three with a top run of 67.
Kyren Wilson is through to his third successive Crucible quarter-final after brushing Welshman Jamie Jones aside with a 13-5 victory at the Betfred World Championship.
The Warrior made the last eight in 2016 with a run which was ended by the eventual winner Mark Selby. Last year he defeated 2015 Crucible king Stuart Bingham, before struggling against John Higgins in the quarter-finals after requiring a tip replacement.
Wilson, 26, will be hoping that he can clinch a place in the one-table semi-finals for the first time. He appeared in his maiden Triple Crown final at the Masters in January, where he lost out to Mark Allen. The pair will meet again in the last eight here in Sheffield. Allen booked his quarter-final berth by beating Joe Perry 13-8 in their second round tie.
World number 51 Jones will be able to look back on a memorable run. He came through qualifying in the most emphatic fashion possible, hammering Liang Wenbo 10-0 to clinch his place at the Theatre of Dreams. Jones went on to beat 2005 World Champion Shaun Murphy 10-9 in round one.
Much of the damage was done in the first two sessions. Wilson came into this evening with an 11-5 advantage and it didn’t take long for him to cruise over the line.
He made a break of 79 in the opening frame, although did take a chunk out of his tip on the final shot of that run. Wilson then took a 15-minute break to attend to the damage. However, he played on with the same tip and got himself past the finishing post in next.
Wilson said: “I have to keep putting in the performances now. This is my third consecutive quarter-final here and that speaks volumes of how much my game has improved. I do genuinely believe that I belong at this level. I work very hard, I’m very dedicated, and I keep my feet on the ground. You reap the rewards when you do the right things.
“I’ve taken a big chunk out of my tip. I can see it when I’m down on the shot, so the tip has got to be changed. Luckily for me it happened at a very good time, being at the end of the match.
“I learned from last year’s mistake against John Higgins. Straight after the Masters final this year I changed my tip, took it off and preserved it in case this ever happened again. I’m very confident that I have one that’s ready to go on and is bedded in.”
Jones remarked: “Looking back, I won three good games at qualifying last week, so it’s not a bad tournament for me really. It’s not been a great tournament either, but I won three in qualifying and one here, so it’s not a disaster I suppose.
“Kyren’s stepped up a level. He looks like he belongs up there. He plays the game the right way. You can’t pot all the balls all the time, and Kyren’s tactical game is very good and he can score heavily. He’s got it all really.
“One thing I need to work on in these longer games is that when I’m being shut out, I need to control my game around that and not get frustrated. I went missing for four or five frames in that match and you can’t do that against these top players.”
Meanwhile, Mark Williams established 5-3 lead in his last 16 clash with Robert Milkins.
The Welshman is enjoying his best campaign on the World Snooker Tour in several seasons, winning his first ranking title since 2011 at the Northern Ireland Open and adding another piece of silverware at the German Masters.
Williams put himself in the driving seat of this tie tonight, making breaks of 65, 87 and 53 in the process.
The pair will return for their second session tomorrow at 2:30pm.