Well, well … after yesterday’s action none of the poster boys are still in the competition.
We had two rounds played to completion, the last 32 and the last 16.
Defending champion Ronnie O’Sullivan, John Higgins, Judd Trump and Neil Robertson were among the winners in the last 32 of the BetVictor English Open. The last 16 takes place at K2 Crawley on Thursday evening.
However World Champion Mark Williams was the biggest casualty of the round as he lost 4-3 to China’s Zhou Yuelong.
O’Sullivan scored a 4-1 win over Matthew Stevens to move a step closer to a 34th career ranking title. He took the opening frame with a break of 75, then Stevens responded with a run of 90 for 1-1. Welshman Stevens scored just five points in the last three frames as O’Sullivan took them with a top break of 60. He now meets Eden Sharav, who reached the last 16 of a ranking event for the first time with a 4-0 win over Craig Steadman
Stuart Bingham made a 131 as he edged out Thepchaiya Un-Nooh 4-3. Trump came from 2-0 down to beat Jack Lisowski 4-2 with a top break of 107.
World number eight Shaun Murphy slipped to a 4-1 defeat against Robert Milkins while China’s promising teenager Luo Honghao saw off Anthony McGill 4-2. Daniel Wells came from 3-1 down to beat Barry Hawkins 4-3 with top breaks of 80 and 78.
Tonight’s last 16 line up:
Ronnie O’Sullivan v Eden Sharav
Neil Robertson v Luo Honghao
Judd Trump v Ryan Day
Mark Davis v John Higgins
Ricky Walden v Stuart Bingham
Ali Carter v Daniel Wells
Robert Milkins v Noppon Saengkham
Stephen Maguire v Zhou Yuelong
The World Champion was beaten by Zhou Yuelong who held himself together quite well in the latest parts of the match where neither played outstandingly well. I didn’t see anything from the Murphy v Milkins match, but Murphy hasn’t been in top form for quite some time and Milkins is a very heavy scorer on his day. So, no real surprise there.
As for Ronnie, his match against Matthew Stevens was quite entertaining and played in good spirit. Those two know each other since juniors days, Matthew being only a couple of years younger than Ronnie. There were a lot of smiles on both sides throughout. Ronnie was more optimistic after the match, saying that he felt more in control as compared to the previous matches.
Also thanks to Tai Chengzhe for those images!
The evening session delivered something else altogether, with a lot of matches going against the seeding/ranking.
China’s latest young snooker talent Luo Honghao beat Neil Robertson 4-2 at the BetVictor English Open to earn a quarter-final with his idol Ronnie O’Sullivan.
Tour rookie Luo, age 18, has earned the nickname The Virtuoso as he is a highly accomplished piano player and could have pursued a career in music. He chose snooker instead and won the WSF Championship this year to secure a tour card. He is now proving his ability on the baize and has knocked out Adam Duffy, Stuart Carrington, Anthony McGill and Robertson this week in Crawley to reach the last eight of a ranking event for the first time.
After losing the first frame against Robertson, world number 105 Luo took four of the next five with top breaks of 69, 56 and 74.
“It’s my biggest win,” said Luo, who comes from Nanchong in China’s Sichuan province. “I enjoyed being out there in front of a lot of people. Ronnie has been my idol since I started playing snooker. I am so excited about playing him and I hope I can pot at least one ball. I’m not sure if I can beat him but anything can happen. I will try my best and enjoy it. I can’t believe I have the chance to play him – I’m so happy.”
Defending champion O’Sullivan eased to a 4-1 win over Eden Sharav with top breaks of 76, 72, 59 and 72.
“Eden is a good player and a tough competitor so I knew I needed to play decent stuff,” said world number three O’Sullivan. “I am working on my sighting at the moment so every match is a chance to get more comfortable and take my game to a higher level. I was watching Luo on the next table and he is a proper talent. He is the real deal.”
Mark Davis continued his hoodoo over John Higgins, beating the four-time World Champion for the seventh time in their last eight meetings. Sussex cueman Davis came from 2-1 down to take the last three frames and win 4-2.
Stuart Bingham top scored with 82 in a 4-0 win over Ricky Walden. He now meets Ali Carter who edged out Daniel Wells 4-3 with a top run of 116.
Stephen Maguire beat Zhou Yuelong 4-0 with a top break of 83. His next opponent is Thailand’s Noppon Saengkham, who made a 52 in the decider to edge out Robert Milkins 4-3.
Friday’s quarter-final line up:
Stuart Bingham v Ali Carter
Not before 2pm
Mark Davis v Ryan Day
Ronnie O’Sullivan v Luo Honghao
Noppon Saengkham v Stephen Maguire
Mark Davis leads John Higgins by 10-5 in their head-to-head, so this is no fluke, even if it’s a bit surprising. After the heights of beating the World Champion, Zhou Yuelong must have suffered a kind of anti-climax effect playing Maguire on a side table. It’s quite common in fact and, of course, Maguire is a top player. I’m not surprised that Maguire won, just that it went 4-0. Ryan Day played incredibly well against Judd Ttrump and, if he can sustain that level, he’s the favourite to lift the trophy come Sunday. He was awesome to watch.
As for Ronnie, he played well himself in beating Eden Sharav. After the match he explained that Sightright has changed the way he’s sighting the ball and that he’s still adjusting to the changes. He also spoke about the changes in his break-off.
Whatever happens for Ronnie from now one there’s already a lot of positives to be taken. He’s playing an “unknown quantity” tonight. Luo is quality, no doubts, and playing Ronnie on television can either intimidate him or having him relax completely knowing he’s the underdog, with no expectations on him. I think the latter scenario is the more likely and the pressure will be on Ronnie.
This is what Ronnie said about his young opponent:
“I was watching Luo on the other table, he is a real talent – a proper player. I heard he is also a great piano player so a genius really, to be that good at two things.”