Three days into the World Open, and as we reach the last 16, this is what tomorrow has in store for us:
This means that the likes of Ding, the defending champion, Liang Wenbo, Yan Bingtao, Neil Robertson, Ali Carter, Judd Trump, Luca Brecel, Mark Allen, Stephen Maguire and Ryan Day are all on their way home. This does not mean that they all went through the same story…
Ding admittetly did not come in Yushan to defend his title under the best circumstances. His wife, Apple, is about to give birth to their first child any day now and this has been a huge source of distraction for Ding. Apple herself insisted that Ding should play, but he came ill prepared and struggling to focus on his snooker. Understandably.
Liang had been playing in Haining the week before this one and there too had got an early exit, plus a fine for conceding the match in a petulant fashion with still enough points on the table to win the frame in progress. This week his performance was simply terrible. Something isn’t right, but what is anyone’s guess.
Neil Robertson who has won the first ranking event of the season, the Riga Masters, less than two weeks ago, has been raking in the centuries but lost to Ricky Walden today despite making two centuries. But a century wins you only one frame and Neil wasn’t able to win the scrappier ones today.
Luca Brecel managed to lose from 4-0 up … to Fergal O’Brien. The always hard as nail Fergal absolutely needs results this season to stay on tour and by the looks of it is firmly determined to do just that!
Ali Carter as well was 3-0 up, then lost 5 on the trot to David Gilbert. Mark Allen was outplayed by Jack Lisowski – the runner-up in Riga – and admitted that he struggled to sleep properly. That said, Jack is class when on form and seems to finally be playing the way he can.
Now, something that probably doesn’t help is the humid heat that affects both the players and the conditions. Mark Williams was seen putting a towel on his head – towel that had been put in the ice bucket first – in an attempt to cool himself a bit.
I haven’t had much time to watch the snooker, but for what I saw, a lot of players were struggling, with jet-lag, with the heat and with their positional game. Mark Selby was far from his best but got out of jail against Elliott Slessor, and similarly Mark Williams could easily have gone out against Lukas Kleckers.
Interestingly, Marco Fu, whose career looked in jeopardy last season because of eyes problems is still in this. As is also Ricky Walden who has suffered so much from back issues but now looks definitely on the mend.
Anthony Hamilton, another one who looked finished – plagued by neck and back issues – is still in the draw as well and dead set to pull out the miracle he needs to stay on the tour.
So, even if the last 16 line-up isnt what most expected, it certainly offers interesting matches!