It was a rather eventful day in Guangzhou as, quite extraordinarily, Zhao Xintong, 21 years old, came back from 3-1 down to beat the World Champion Mark Williams. Last season Zhao dropped out of the main tour but immediately re-qualified. He’s now in a QF for the first time.
Another young Chinese, Lyu HaoTian is responsible for Shaun Murphy exit. Lyu is only 20. He too dropped out of the main tour a couple of years back. He was clearly too young and lost in a completely alien culture when he first turned pro, and he had a very hard time. So it’s nice to see him doing well.
And finally, Yan Sijun, only 18, did beat the very experienced and tough Mark King, scoring four breaks over 50 in the process.
This was Ronnie’s reaction on twitter to today’s outcome
To his question, I’m afraid that, the answer is no, when it comes to mainland Europe, at least in the near future. We simply don’t have the structures, nor do we have the infrastructure, to really develop our aspiring snooker players. And this is despite remarkable efforts from some snooker passionate in France, Belgium and Germany. But it’s largely individual efforts.
Anyway… I’m glad to see young players coming through and I don’t care which nationality they are TBH.
As for what I watched, which is not much, the Mark Selby v Hossein Vafaei was a close and good match and Mark Selby seems to be playing well and more positively.
Zhao, 21, is the oldest of three Chinese players through to the last eight of the tournament in Guangzhou, alongside 20-year-old Lyu Haotian and 18-year-old Yuan Sijun.
Last season, Zhao was relegated from the pro tour after a string of defeats, but he bounced straight back via Q School, and is now living up to his potential with an excellent start to the 2018/19 campaign. He is through to the quarter-finals of a ranking event for the first time and will now face Barry Hawkins.
Williams made a break of 108 to lead 3-1, but Zhao took control after the interval and won four frames in a row with top breaks of 52, 94 and 74.
“I played well, especially in the second half of the match,” said world number 97 Zhao. “I was playing with a very good attitude. I didn’t play well last season but now I’m playing with good confidence. There are a lot of Chinese players from the young generations coming though now which is brilliant.
“The conditions at this tournament might have affected the top players, but I grew up as a junior player in Guangzhou so I got used to it very fast, maybe that gave me the edge.”
Lyu scored a 5-3 win over Shaun Murphy with a top break of 75 while Yuan saw off Mark King 5-3 with runs of 82, 76, 56 and 66.
Yuan, who had never previously been beyond the last 32 of a ranking event, said: “I took my chances better than my opponent and I had the advantage throughout the game. I have put in a lot of work since the World Championship because I want to make sure I stay on the tour at the end of the season. It seems like that has paid off.
“I’m so glad so many fellow Chinese players have reached the later stages of the tournament. It’s not a British players’ show any more.”
Judd Trump has lost just three frames in his three matches so far. He swept aside Yan Bingtao 5-1 today with breaks of 53, 81, 111, 56 and 55. Trump now meets John Higgins in a mouth-watering clash – a repeat of their World Championship quarter-final earlier this year which Higgins edged 13-12.
Today, Higgins won an all-Scottish battle against Scott Donaldson 5-3. “I lost a couple of really bad frames,” said Higgins. “I’ll need to play a lot better against Judd. He usually brings the best out of me because it will be a free-flowing, attacking game. I feel like the under-dog because Judd has played a lot better than me, I haven’t even made a century this week which is pretty sad. I can only improve.”
World number one Mark Selby scored a 5-3 win over Hossein Vafaei, pulling away from 3-3 to take the last two frames with a top run of 108. Hawkins beat Graeme Dott 5-2 with a top break of 79.
Martin O’Donnell scored a 5-2 win over Liang Wenbo with a top run of 62. O’Donnell’s only previous appearance in a ranking quarter-final came at the Shoot Out earlier this year when he got to the semis.
Friday’s quarter-final line-up
Martin O’Donnell v Lyu Haotian
Judd Trump v John Higgins
Mark Selby v Yuan SiJun
Barry Hawkins v Zhao Xintong
And, not snooker related, Ronnie will feature in the Fifth Gear show tonight and this is the rather amusing short trailer.