English Open 2018 – Semi Finals day as Ronnie’s defence comes to an end.

It will be Stuart Bingham vs Mark Davis in the Final today and here is how we came to this:

Stuart Bingham beat Stephen Maguire by 6-3 (Worldsnooker report)

Stuart Bingham reached his ninth career ranking final by beating Stephen Maguire 6-3 at the BetVictor English Open.

Basildon’s Bingham came from 3-2 down to win the last four frames against Glasgow’s Maguire to reach his first ranking final since the 2017 European Masters. He is chasing his fifth career ranking title and first since the Welsh Open in February 2017.

The 42-year-old will face Ronnie O’Sullivan or Mark Davis over 17 frames at K2 Crawley on Sunday, with the winner to collect the Steve Davis Trophy and a top prize of £70,000.

Maguire made breaks of 69 and 72 to lead 2-1 then world number 15 Bingham levelled with a run of 76. After the interval, Maguire regained the lead with a 93 before Bingham squared the match again with a 72.

A tight seventh frame went the way of 2015 World Champion Bingham as he went ahead at 4-3. In frame eight, Maguire trailed 33-56 when he missed a tough pot on the final green along the side cushion. Bingham slotted in the green to extend his lead.

World number 16 Maguire looked set to win frame nine but missed the penultimate red to a top corner at 55-35. Bingham made a cool 36 clearance to book his final place.

“I don’t feel as if I played that well, I missed a lot of easy balls,” said Bingham after reaching his first ranking final since returning from a three-month ban for breaching betting rules. “I felt a bit of pressure out there and the scoreline flattered me.  When I looked at my half of the draw at the start of the week I could see it was very tough, so I’m happy to get to the final. I don’t care who I play. If it’s Ronnie it will be a big occasion but it would also be great to play Mark because he’s a mate.”

Maguire said: “I missed too many balls, I had loads of chances. If you miss those kind of balls you deserve to lose. The table had been re-covered and I couldn’t get used to it. My positional play was like a 12-year-old’s. I knew after the first frame I was all over the place. I thought I would get used to it, but I didn’t. You can’t win if you can’t control the white.

“The most important thing this week is that my sciatica has been a lot better. I will get some work done on it next week and hopefully I’ll be ok to go to the International Championship in China.”

Neither player was at his best in this match, and Maguire in particular looked out of sorts.

Mark Davis beat Ronnie by 6-1 (Worldsnooker report)

Mark Davis reached the final of a ranking event for the first time, 27 years after turning professional, with a shock 6-1 hammering of Ronnie O’Sullivan at the BetVictor English Open.

Having lost in five previous ranking semi-finals, 46-year-old Davis could have been forgiven for thinking he might never make it to a final. But he produced one of the best performances of his career to send defending champion O’Sullivan crashing out.

Davis has travelled the world since 1991, playing in over 100 ranking tournaments across the planet, and has now reached his first final in Crawley, just 45 minutes away from his home in Hastings. He will face Stuart Bingham over 17 frames on Sunday for the Steve Davis Trophy and a top prize of £70,000. Victory would make Davis the oldest winner of a ranking event since Doug Mountjoy won the 1989 Classic.

EnglishOpen2018-ROSSF-1O’Sullivan made errors throughout the contest as he slipped to his first defeat of the season, having won four matches to take the Shanghai Masters title last month and five more to reach the semi-finals this week.

World number 45 Davis dominated the opening frame, then O’Sullivan made it 1-1 with a break of 56, which turned out to be his highest of the match. Runs of 102, 93, 84 and 65 gave Davis four frames in a row as he surged 5-1 ahead. He trailed by 27 points in frame seven, but made 52 before playing safe, and he later trapped O’Sullivan in a tough snooker which created the chance to seal the result.

“It’s amazing to get to my first final, I can’t believe it,” said Davis, who was watched by son Jack and daughter Millie. “A few weeks ago I was struggling with my game. I was practising with Jimmy Robertson and I just said ‘I can’t play any more’ and walked out of the club. I never usually do that but it wasn’t good. But I have kept working at it and my game has turned around.

“Perhaps subconsciously it has given me a lift, playing in front of friends and family this week. I had a lot of support out there tonight. I have had a tough draw this week but if I play well I can give anyone a game. I’ll just try to keep the same thoughts and enjoy the match tomorrow. It would mean everything to win it, but that is still a million miles away.”

O’Sullivan said: “He played well and I didn’t put up much of a fight, I was lucky to get a frame. I was outplayed.”

Ronnie’s defence came to an end in the Semi Finals yesterday with a very poor performance and it’s legitimate to ask one-self how much the foul incident in the QF match did affect his state of mind. Since working with Steve Peters Ronnie has been able to manage his emotions far better but that does not mean he’s immune to them and all reports I got stated that he was really mortified after what happened.

There were inevitably people talking about “cheating” but lots of players, and  WPBSA chairman Jason Ferguson himself, came on social media clearly stating that Ronnie’s integrity was absolutely not questioned. He’s never been anything but totally honest. But Ronnie himself felt very bad and probably the tought entered his head that he didn’t deserve to be in the semi-finals.

That said Mark Davis played extremely well, as he had all week. We shouldn’t forget that he had beaten John Higgins and Neil Robertson to come to that stage. He might well have won this match even if Ronnie had not been as out of sorts as he obviously was. It’s sad that Ronnie’s run had to end this way, not the fact that he lost – that’s sport – but how he lost, and the circumstances around the match.

As you can hear, in the aftermatch, Neil Foulds did question Ronnie’s decision to tinker with his game, and his sighting. I tend to agree with him. Of course, it’s only commandable that even after so many years and so many titles, Ronnie still wants to improve. But there is also a risk that it could destroy his game too. I hope he sits back, discusses it with people who have been at his side for a long time and, maybe, reconsiders. I’m not convinced sightright is working for him (which does not mean it doesn’t work for others, it clearly did for Willo, but everyone is different)

I have met Mark Davis many times on the tour, and at SWSA, and he really is a lovely man. I will be supporting him today. After 27 years of hard graft as a pro, this is his first final, close to his home, with his family watching. It would be fantastic – and totally deserved – for him to lift the trophy tonight.

People on social media call him “Dark Mavis”, but many fellow pros use another nickname: “The Smiler”. That says a lot. Good luck, Mark!

And on a lighter note…

7 thoughts on “English Open 2018 – Semi Finals day as Ronnie’s defence comes to an end.

  1. Regarding Sightright and Ronnie tinkering with his game, we always need to remind ourselves that Ronnie judges himself against his own standards and that those standards are different from the standards that most other people use.

    I think it’s fair to assume that most people (including most Ronnie fans) share the following preferences for Ronnie:
    1. Ronnie wins and feels good about his cue action, cueball control, etc.
    2. Ronnie wins but doesn’t feel good
    3. Ronnie loses but feels good
    4. Ronnie loses and doesn’t feel good

    But this is where Ronnie is different from most of the rest of us, as he seems to have this set of preferences instead:
    1. Ronnie wins and feels good about his cue action, cueball control, etc.
    2. Ronnie loses but feels good
    3. Ronnie wins but doesn’t feel good
    4. Ronnie loses and doesn’t feel good

    His #2 and #3 are in the reverse order from that of most other people, which is why the rest of us can watch Ronnie win tournaments and automatically conclude that his game is not broken (and therefore in no need of fixing), whereas he can end up feeling like his game is a disaster and in need of major repairs. In our set of preferences, winning is the top priority with feeling good being second priority; in Ronnie’s set of preferences, feeling good is the top priority with winning being second.

    The rest of us look at Ronnie’s 2017-18 season and the fact that he won 5 ranking events and conclude that his game is in incredible shape and that he shouldn’t tinker with it because “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” But according to Ronnie, he only felt good about the state of his game for 1 of those 5 victories, which makes him conclude that he needs to “reinvent” himself in order to have a chance of feeling good again…

  2. And it was nice to see him again on the Eurosport.
    I think he’ll play back to back weeks in November to play both of them: CoC, NI Open.
    We’ll see

  3. Ronnie was far away from last year’s form.
    But like Shanghai Masters despite the bad form his attitude is excellent.
    Would love to know what will happen if there is not that controversial quarterfinal.
    Davis is on form but let Ronnie some ‘tourning point chances’ what Ronnie simply failed.
    To have 79% pot success rate shows me that his head WAS NOT on the match.
    He wanted to go and NOT because he gave it up.
    He wanted to leave the arena asap because of the QF’s accident.

    If he founds his rhytm at the table he is a real contender for the trophies again.
    (To reach semi at your first ranker since the Crucible is a good point!)

  4. I think it’s still too soon to judge the results of Ronnie’s work with sightright. And in my opinion Ronnie is trying this method because it helped Bingham and Williams to win a world title. I noticed sometimes that Ronnie thinks too much about his shots. And his cue action becomes less fluent. But if he thinks that his game has to be reinvented then we have to accept his reasons. I’m still convinced that Ronnie should work on his mental attitude. The last season he won 5 rankings (without sightright) playing really well until the Uk Championship. Then at the Crucible he was overwhelmed by his demons, as always since 2015. When he’s in Sheffield he become unable to handle with the pressure and the expectations of himself and the fans. Ronnie proved many times that he is able to deal with pressure, except perhaps when he has to play Selby. And his issue with the Crucible is bond with his defeat in 2014. Anyway Ronnie knows his job and he knows what he has to do.

  5. Thank you Monique, raising all these questions: I totally agree and was thinking about them too last night. Mark Davis played very well and he might have won if Ronnie had played better, but with a score less devastating: the way it went, even when the balls were beautifully set up for a break and Ronnie was among the balls, he made some terrible mistakes and that was it.

    I kept wondering how much that foul affected him: people said here and elsewhere that it might affect his upcoming match and it is very easy to imagine that the thought got to him that if he defends his title, people will always look at it as a little tarnished, not necessarily because he “cheated” as most people I believe do not think he did, but simply because he carried on to win a frame when he should have stopped or been stopped there and taken it from there either direction it might go (Ronnie might still have won). Now that he lost the issue will hopefully fall into the “circulez y’a rien à voir” category.

    But it was even more interesting to listen to the discussion at the end when Neil Foulds said that Ronnie really should not tinker with his game and he had a marvelous season last year, so why try to fix something that is not broken? Of course, Ronnie won the Shanghai Masters and we remember how it was heralded by SightRight people as a triumph of their method, and he got to the semis here, but despite his beautiful 135 break and of course the flawless and sweet 147, after every match they said and Ronnie said he did not play very well, only there was nobody who did challenge him (“my bad game is better than his bad game” is a hilarious quote, but not too reassuring). It was really interesting what Neil said that he has not seen Ronnie play so bad for a long time as he did in the semis, so maybe Sight Right is not for him, and I sure hope he will give it a good hard look in the upcoming weeks.

    For today the best of luck to Mark Davis. It would be quite a story to win his first ranking title at the age of 46.

  6. Yes I agree with your view that Ronnie’s competitive spirit was wrecked by what happened in the Q-final. He just appeared jaded from the very beginning. In fact, for me the biggest signs that this would happen came from Jimmy White, in the post-match interviews on Friday (where he appeared ashen faced), and in the pre-match build-up before the semi-final, where he stated several times “Ronnie always tries his best to win”. Jimmy knew what was going to happen, and so did Mark Davis after a couple of frames, which probably explains how easily he picked up the pieces. Ronnie’s supporters were similarly subdued, and Mark Davis (a local man) had enough support in the crowd to make him relax.

    I though Bingham and Maguire weren’t so bad in the afternoon. It was a big semi-final, and a new table for them. There were a few near misses, otherwise there would have been two or three centuries. I expect Bingham to be strong favourite today, as he’s far more experienced at finals, and has been playing extremely well. But of course if Mavis can hang in anything can happen, and we’d probably all love to see him win.

    Once again, these Home Nations events have provided a few shocks, nice surprises and some interesting talking points!

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