China Championship 2018 – Held over and last 64 round-up

After two days in Guangzhou, we are only at the last 32 stage and two of the guys on the poster are already out of it: Marco Fu and the defending champion Luca Brecel.

Only one wildcard, Chang Bingyu is still in the draw, having beaten Jimmy Robertson in the last 128 and Robert Milkins in the last 64. He will face Mark Selby tomorrow.

Among the high-profile players, other than Marco Fu and Luca Brecel, we have seen defeats for Ali Carter, Stephen Maguire, Anthony Mc Gill, David Gilbert and Michael White.

None of those defeats happened on a television table. Mark Williams, the World Champion was on a side table today and came up with on twitter.

Very very very tough conditions on the outside tables AGAIN.

And Mark King with this:

Well pleased to get through that game,conditions very poor and water leaking on table so had to switch tables and done me a favour, Sams a class act and will be a major player soon.

I’m not saying that those players would have won on the main tables, but this is a professional event and conditions should be such that those pros can truly show the full extend of their skills.

Also, Luca Brecel was the defending champion, the first ever player from mainland Europe to win a ranking title and what happened? He was made to play yesterday, on the television table all right, but a 3:30 am CET and only available on the ES player, then on an outside table today. If really snooker is to be developed in mainland Europe and young people to be inspired to play snooker, this isn’t the best way to achieve it.

Yesterday I didn’t have much time to watch snooker. From what I saw, John Higgins wasn’t playing great: in fact he played very well in patches, and awful in patches as well. He did enough but it was a bit bizarre. Mark Williams outplayed Rod Lawler, and looked like he was losing his concentration at times, but Rod was unable to take advantage. Watching Rod out there made me sad: he looked very down on himself. This is a man who loves the game and he’s facing the end of his career. I hope that he can find a new lease of life on the World Seniors Tour when the time comes.

Today I was able to watch a bit more. To say that the Selby v Akani match was a hard slog is an understatement. Neither player was flowing. Mark Selby is probably low on confidence, he’s not got the best last 15 months on the baize. Maybe that’s why he was rather defensive and even negative in his game today. Several times he refused pots that I really expected him to take, and his long potting was dire. He still won eventually but it wasn’t pretty. Judd completely outplayed Rhys Clark. Rhys though had opportunities, at least in the first three frames. Rhys hasn’t won a match yet this season, he’s won only one match all last season. This was a total mismatch and nobody really likes or wants to see this. The other matches on television featured Ding Junhui playing Daniel Wells, and Shaun Murphy playing Liam Highfield. Both matches ended on a 5-1 score. I know that Ding will always be on the television table in China, but… maybe there should be a rethink about who is on television taking into account the expected “competitiveness” of the matches.

Anyway, here are the reports on Worldsnooker

From yesterday

Luca Brecel began the defence of his Evergrande China Championship title with a 5-1 defeat of tour rookie Joe O’Connor.

The Belgian picked up ranking silverware for the first time in his career last year in Guangzhou, thanks to a stunning 10-5 win over Shaun Murphy in the final.

However, Brecel’s season ended on a low point after suffering a first round exit at the World Championship against Ricky Walden. Following today’s game he admitted that defeat spurred him on to make a lifestyle change to help him on the table.

Brecel said: “After the World Championship I said to my family that I have to change something. I changed my diet, I changed my fitness and I practise every day now. I wouldn’t have been doing that last year. That is paying off now. My game is in good shape, I just need to get some confidence and I can maybe get back to semi-finals and finals.”

World Champion Mark Williams swept aside Rod Lawler 5-0 to book a clash against Ken Doherty, the man he defeated in the 2003 world final, in the next round. The Welshman compiled breaks of 56, 64 and 102 on his way to a comfortable victory.

China’s number one Ding Junhui battled past a determined Lee Walker to come through a 5-3 winner. He clinched victory with a break of 68 in the eighth frame.

Scotland’s Four-time Crucible king John Higgins was made to work for his 5-3 victory against Allan Taylor, as he battled back from a 2-0 deficit.

Higgins’ compatriots Scott Donaldson and Stephen Maguire battled it out in their last 64 clash, with world number 54 Donaldson recording a surprise 5-2 win.

Fergal O’Brien put on a fine display to emphatically defeat four-time ranking event winner Ali Carter 5-1. The Irishman composed runs of 88, 121 and 71 on his way to the win.

It was a disappointing defeat for Carter, but his solitary frame did come in spectacular fashion. He fired in a 144, the highest break of the tournament so far.

Neil Robertson downed Gerard Greene 5-2 to progress. While Iran’s Hossein Vafaei recorded an impressive 5-3 win over the recent Yushan World Open finalist David Gilbert

From today

Shaun Murphy eased through his opening match at the Evergrande China Championship, defeating Liam Highfield 5-1 in Guangzhou.

The 2005 World Champion, who was runner-up at last year’s China Championship, looked to be in good touch this evening as he wrapped up the victory in just over an hour and a half. However, Murphy had previously been struggling to find his best this campaign.

The Magician suffered qualifying round exits at the Yushan World Open and the European Masters and a first round defeat at the Paul Hunter Classic. Those losses came amid plenty of changes off the table for Murphy, who has become a father for the second time after his wife Elaine gave birth to a girl named Molly. Their family have also recently moved to Dublin.

After reaching five finals last season and winning one title, at the Champion of Champions, he now hopes this can be the moment he can kick on in 2018/19.

Murphy said: “There are always positives to be found in situations, perhaps having a few weeks off at the start of the season, which was out of my control, could pay dividends. It is such a long and tiring season. I am here now and feeling good, I can’t wait to play again.”

Ding Junhui produced a fine display to see off the challenge of Daniel Wells in a 5-1 victory. The Asian number one fired in breaks of 89, 125, 79 and 53 on his way to the win.

World Champion Mark Williams went one better than Murphy and Ding, securing a 5-0 whitewash of the man he beat in the 2003 Crucible final, Ken Doherty.

World number one Mark Selby came through a gruelling three hour and 40 minutes clash with Thailand’s Sunny Akani 5-3.

Judd Trump put on a blistering performance to defeat Scotland’s Rhys Clark 5-0 in under an hour. While Martin O’Donnell secured one of the biggest wins of his career to send defending champion Luca Brecel crashing out by a 5-3 scoreline.

Why the main subject of today’s report is Shaun Murphy is anyone’s guess …
Find here on all detailed results so far as well as some footages