International Championship 2018 -Quarter Finals

The quarter finals round in Daqing delivered some very high quality matches, especially in the evening session.

Here are the reports on Worldsnooker:

Afternoon session

Jack Lisowski overcame close friend Judd Trump 6-2 to reach the semi-finals of the International Championship in Daqing.

The win sees Lisowski secure his third appearance in a ranking event semi-final and his second trip to the last four this season, having been runner-up at the Riga Masters in July. His maiden ranking semi-final came at last season’s Shanghai Masters, where he lost out to Trump.

Lisowski has previously admitted to finding it difficult to play against his friend Trump and coming into this tie he had lost four out of their last five meetings. However, on this occasion he took control against the eight-time ranking event winner.

Breaks of 95 and 71 helped him to establish an early 3-0 advantage. That was a deficit which Trump was unable to recover from. Eventually, with the score at 5-2, Lisowski got over the line with a century run of 106 to progress.

World number 21 Lisowski’s new found consistency has seen him surge up the rankings and he is now within touching distance of the top 16 and a potential Masters debut. He will face either Mark Selby or Neil Robertson over two sessions on Saturday in the semi-finals.

“I definitely want to be a top 16 player. If that happens it happens. I’m just working as hard as I can and trying my best in every tournament. If I can keep it up then in a few months, who knows,” said Lisowski. “I’m starting to find some consistency, I’m not sure where from but I’m riding a wave and I want to keep it up as long as I can.

“When I win I get a lot of adrenaline. It is hard to sleep and hard to calm down. That is something I’ve been getting used to. Like I say, this is new to me so this is all a learning curve.”

Mark Allen put on a sublime display to thrash Ali Carter 6-0 and clinch his place in the last four.

The Pistol was runner-up last year in Daqing, losing a tight final against Mark Selby 10-7. He will be hoping to go one better this week and looks to be in tremendous touch, having already made eight centuries.

Allen composed breaks of 129 and 70 on his way to establishing a 4-0 advantage. He then landed a crucial low in the fifth frame, stealing it after requiring two snookers, before winning the next to secure the whitewash victory.

The Northern Irishman will face Martin O’Donnell or Matthew Stevens in the last four tomorrow.

It’s great to see Jack Lisowski finally getting to the latter stages of events regularly. He’s a tremendous player when on form but until now never really played to his potential consistently. His win today get him provisionally in 16th spot for the Masters. I’d love to see him there. As for Judd, it’s a bit of a worrying pattern that he regularly seems to be a major contender for events in early stages, only to collapse towards the latter stages.

Evening session

Neil Robertson produced one of the best performances of the season so far to come from behind and beat world number one Mark Selby 6-4 in their quarter-final clash at the International Championship.

Defending champion Selby has taken home the trophy from Daqing for the previous two seasons, but today’s victory for Robertson ends an 18-match win streak at the International Championship the Jester.

Robertson has already added a 14th ranking title to his CV this season with victory at the Riga Masters and he will be hoping to secure the £175,000 top prize and a further piece of silverware this weekend.

Selby set the tone for the high quality encounter with a sublime break of 137 to take the opening frame. Australia’s Robertson claimed the second, before a contribution of 135 saw him take the lead for the first time at 2-1.

Three-time World Champion Selby then managed to assume control of the match. Breaks of 83 and 133 helped him on the way to taking three frames on the bounce and establishing a 4-2 cushion.

However, 2010 Crucible winner Robertson wasn’t to be denied and he produced a blitz of his own to surge to the finish post. The Thunder from Down Under fired in breaks of 113, 95 and 53 in a run of four consecutive frames to emerge the 6-4 victor.

“The purists and anyone who understands modern snooker would really have appreciated that match. It was break building and potting of the highest standard and just incredible tactical play,” said Robertson. “It was one of the highest standard of matches I have ever played in for sure.

“Mark Selby has won three world titles so that clearly separates us. However, I am working as hard as I possibly can to make sure another one is just around the corner. I would be really disappointed if I retired and had only won one world title.”

Matthew Stevens reached his first ranking semi-final since the 2013 Wuxi Classic by beating Martin O’Donnell 6-5.

O’Donnell had led 4-2, but the former Masters and UK Champion Stevens battled his way back into the match to lead 5-4. A gutsy clearance of 37 saw O’Donnell to force a decider, but it was Stevens who eventually came through to set up a semi-final tomorrow with Mark Allen.

The semi-finals will both be played over two sessions across the best of 17 frames, with Stevens facing Allen tomorrow and Robertson taking on Lisowski on Saturday.

The Mark Selby v Neil Robertson was a fantastic match on all accounts. Both players were excellent.

Also, it’s good to see Matthew Stevens returning to form. It’s quite baffling that it’s been nearly 5 years and a half since he reached a semi final. I couldn’t watch the match today, but in his match yesterday, I noticed that he seems more confident than he had been for a very long time. He wasn’t pondering shots for ages, looking for problems, on the contrary, he played a fluent attacking game.

So what can we expect from the semi finals?

Jack Lisowski and Neil Robertson are both managed by Grove. I’m not sure how often they practice together if ever, but if they do, which is likely, it could be an important factor. Remember what Ben Wooollaston said after beating Mark Selby two weeks ago in Crawley? He said that playing Mark Selby was just playing a mate for him, as they practice together. There was no fear factor, and this could well apply to the Jack v Neil match too. I’d still make Neil favourite.

Mark Allen looks in blistering form and I think that he will have too much for Matthew Stevens tomorrow. But who knows?