There weren’t any big surprises in this round, except, maybe, Martin Gould’s win over Barry Hawkins, mainly because Martin had a stinker of a season up to now.
World number one Mark Selby is through to the last 16 of the International Championship in China and hopes he can finish a “tough” week by dedicating the trophy to Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha.
Selby is a fan of Leicester City and has close links with the football club, particularly since he won the 2016 World Championship on the same day that the Foxes won the Premier League title. The club’s owner Srivaddhanaprabha tragically died in a helicopter crash last Saturday.
After beating Robert Milkins 6-4 today with top breaks of 102 and 131, Selby said: “This week was always going to be tough for me, given what has happened in Leicester. I just need to try to deal with it, go out there and try to play as well as I can and maybe bring the trophy back for Vichai. Snooker is our job, you have to pick yourself up and carry on.
“People back home have been supporting me and telling me to try to win it. I have to try to stay focused because there is no point in playing if your head is not right. If I do lose I’l be getting home as fast as possible to pay my respects.”
Mark Allen made a rare break of 146 as he beat Hossein Vafaei 6-3. Northern Ireland’s Allen was runner-up to Selby in this event last year and will make the quarter-finals this time if he can beat Alfie Burden on Wednesday.
World number 12 Allen trailed Iran’s Vafaei 2-0 but hit back to win six of the next seven frames with runs of 142, 53, 54, 68, 78, 146 and 65. The 146 was the third of his career and puts him in line for the £3,000 high break prize.
“I started slowly today but dug in and scored heavily from 2-0 down,” said Allen. “The balls play nicely here and the conditions are good so it’s a chance to score heavily.
“I feel as if I should be competing for titles, especially given how much work I have been putting in on the table. It’s a tough school, there are a lot of good players around and everyone is sharp because there are so many events. I’m getting closer to the form I had when I won the Masters earlier this year, I have scored well this week.”
Stuart Carrington earned a match against Selby as he enjoyed a tremendous fight-back to beat Ian Burns 6-5. World number 48 Carrington was 5-1 down and needed a snooker on the last red in frame seven, but got it and cleared up for 5-2. He then rattled through the last four frames with 116, 76, 64 and 70.
Neil Robertson came from 4-2 down to beat close friend Joe Perry 6-5, making a 76 in the deciding frame. Home favourite Ding Junhui top scored with 112 in a 6-4 win over Zhao Xintong.
“I played ok today, hopefully I can play better tomorrow,” said Ding. “It’s still the early stage of the season and it hasn’t gone that well for me so far. Zhao is a brilliant player, he is very solid and making progress too. He has had a fantastic season so far and he will get the experience he needs.”
Judd Trump eased to a 6-1 win over Michael Holt while Yan Bingtao edged out Ryan Day 6-5 by coming from 55-0 down in the decider to clear with 64.
Martin Gould scored a 6-3 victory over Barry Hawkins while Jack Lisowski beat Marco Fu 6-3 with a top break of 112, which could prove a significant result in the race to the Masters.
As for what I saw …
Jack Lisowski played really well to beat Marco Fu who wasn’t playing badly at all himself.
Yan Bingtao was dominating the match against Ryan Day until frame 9. Then he had an opportunity to finish the job with a 6-3 win. He just needed to clear on the colours up to the blue. Incredibly, he missed a rather simple yellow. Ryan didn’t take advantage. Then Yan missed the match ball blue and left it. Incredibly again, Ryan missed it too, and left it … only for Yan to miss the match ball blue again. And again he left it. Ryan potted it, but immediately missed the pink, and left it… oly for Yan to miss another match ball, the third in a few minutes. This time Ryan made no mistake. It was 5-4 to Yan instead of 6-3. After this extraordinary end of frame Ryan went on to win the next frame to force a decider, and was first in too in the final frame. At that stage I thought that Yan’s head was gone. Not so. Quite extraordinary, really.
Robert Milkins made Mark Selby work for his win. Neither player was at his best, but neither was terrible. It was a decent match … bizarelly, my thought at the end of it was that Robert could have won it, had he been a bit better with the rest. He missed about every pot he attempted with the rest and there were a few!
Finally, the 146 by Mark Allen was his third, and that’s a record … that he now shares with Ronnie.