Yesterday in York decided on the quarter finals line-up and it didn’t yield what most expected. Indeed in the afternoon, bot Judd Trump and Ding Junhui crashed out. Actually I’m not surprised at Dings defeat, he never looked in any sort of form in the earlier rounds. As for Judd Trump, I expected Joe Perry to give him a serious challenge but still expected Judd’s potting power to get him through. Not so. Once again Judd has been found out when forced to play a game that isn’t his natural “pot them all” approach, and it’s strange because he has a very good safety when he applies himself to it.
Martin O’Donnell scored the best win of his career as he beat two-time champion Ding Junhui 6-4 at the Betway UK Championship, while another former winner, Judd Trump, was also knocked out, losing 6-4 to Joe Perry.
World number 59 O’Donnell had never won a match in this tournament in five previous attempts, but has got through four rounds this time in York to ensure his biggest career pay-day of £22,500. And he has earned the chance to take on defending champion Ronnie O’Sullivan in the quarter-finals on Friday at 1pm.
London’s 32-year-old O’Donnell has enjoyed a significant improvement this season as he had never previously gone beyond the last 16 of a ranking event, but has now made three quarter-finals, having reached the same stage of the China Championship and International Championship. With the help of former world number 16 Ian McCulloch, his coach for the past three years, O’Donnell has found consistency in his performances and a knack of dealing with pressure on the big stage.
From 3-2 down against Ding, O’Donnell took three frames in a row with top breaks of 44, 49 and 90. China’s Ding, who won this event in 2005 and 2009, pulled one back and had a scoring chance in frame ten but ran out of position on 21 and played safe. O’Donnell knocked in an excellent long red to initiate a match-winning run of 41.
“I’m not here just to get to quarter-finals so I haven’t achieved anything yet,” said O’Donnell, who has beaten four Chinese players in this event. “I’ll relax tonight and get ready for tomorrow. Ronnie is the greatest player ever and it will be a privilege to play him. I’ll just keep doing what I’m doing and take the game to him. I practise six or seven hours a day believing that when I get my chance I’ll be able to take it.
“A lot of players seem to struggle to play their own game against Ronnie. I’ll find out tomorrow what it’s like to play him. He’s got that aura around him. But I’ll just focus on my own game and see what chances I get. That will be the challenge for me, not to look over at him in his seat or worry about what he’s doing. I’ve got to stay calm, be patient, be aggressive and see what happens. He could beat me 6-0 and it has still been a good tournament for me.
“I have sat in many venues watching Ronnie and cheering him on myself. I’d imagine the crowd will be one-sided tomorrow. But crowds like a battle so hopefully I can stand up and produce that.”
World number 21 Perry enjoyed a superb win over Trump to reach the UK quarter-finals for the sixth time. Fifth seed Trump had arrived in York in top form having won the Northern Ireland Open last month, but his winning streak comes to an end and the 2011 UK Championship remains his only Triple Crown title.
Trump made breaks of 81 and 97 in taking a 3-1 lead then Perry hit back strongly after the interval, making a run of 100 in frame five then a vital yellow-to-pink clearance in the sixth for 3-3. Trump regained the lead with a break of 100 but Perry took a scrappy eighth frame and cleared from the last red in the ninth to go ahead for the first time. And The Gentleman finished the contest in style with a 136 total clearance in the tenth.
“Judd blasted me off the table before the interval, which is what you expect when you play him,” said Perry, who won his only ranking title at the 2015 Players Championship. “I got back into it and rode my luck.
“I don’t think I’m going to get better at snooker at my age, but I can still learn, and over the last five years my temperament has got so much better. I can deal with stuff out there now, whether I win or lose. I’m not going to lose any matches any more through bad temperament. You just have to stick in there whatever happens.
“Tom Ford is a very talented player who hasn’t fulfilled his potential, he’s a great scorer and very natural. I always enjoy playing him.”
Trump said: “We both had loads of chances and missed quite a few balls. There was a big turning point at 4-4 when he doubled the last red. But before that I had chances to go 4-2 and didn’t take them. Joe got a bit of run at the wrong moments for me.
“I haven’t felt great in this tournament, I have just been scraping through and you can’t rely on that. I should have got through the match today with my experience but I missed too many balls. Sometimes I try too hard instead of being relaxed.”
The evening matches went the way most expected probably. Stuart Bingham has been scoring heavily this week, and that, combined with a touch of luck here and there, was too much for Akani. Kyren confirmed that he’s a man in form. Barry stayed with him before the MSI but, after that, it was very one-sided.
Kyren Wilson emphatically reached his first Betway UK Championship quarter-final after a 6-2 defeat of world number six Barry Hawkins.
In fact, prior to this week, Wilson had never been beyond the last 32 here in York. However, the 26-year-old has enjoyed the best calendar year of his career so far in 2018.
The Warrior was runner-up to Mark Allen at the Masters, appeared in the World Championship semi-finals and has picked up silverware at the Paul Hunter Classic and Six Red World Championship. He will be hoping to cap off a golden 12 months with a maiden Triple Crown title this week.
Hawkins established the early advantage this evening after making a contribution of 87 to take the opener. However, that was the only time he would be lead for the remainder of the tie, as his opponent turned on the style.
Breaks of 69 and 49 helped Wilson into a 2-1 lead, before a century run of 102 from Hawkins saw him restore parity at the mid-session.
When they returned Wilson stormed to victory with a clean sweep of frames. Breaks of 95, 78, 81 and 61 allowed him to him win four on the bounce and secure the impressive 6-2 win. He will now face 2015 World Champion Stuart Bingham in the last eight.
“It was nip and tuck up until the interval and It looked like it was going to be really close. Once play got back underway I just thought I needed to stay positive,” said Wilson. “If I got into a bit of a tactical safety battle he might have outplayed me. He gave me a chance in the fifth frame and I felt like from there I really had to punish him. After that I had the momentum.
“It will be a clash of the top 16 against Stuart in the quarter-finals. Nowadays that isn’t always the case at this point in an event, as the standard is so strong and people you wouldn’t expect to get this far are creeping into the latter stages.
“Stuart is a very good player and I always enjoy matches with him. He attacks, goes for his shots and scores quite quickly. It is always an enjoyable match and I will look forward to it.”
Bingham defeated Thailand’s Sunny Akani 6-2 to set up his quarter-final showdown with Wilson.
His victory ensures he will compete in the UK Championship last eight for the sixth time. Thailand’s Akani bows out at the last 16 stage for the second consecutive year, after he lost out 6-5 in a memorable clash with Ronnie O’Sullivan 12 months ago.
Bingham top scored in this afternoon’s clash with a run of 117. His last eight meeting with Wilson will take place tomorrow evening at 7pm.
So this is what we have today:
Afternoon: Ronnie v Martin O’Donnel and Joe Perry v Tom Ford
Evening: Stuart Bingham v Kyren Wilson and Mark Allen v Stephen Maguire
There is a clear favourite in each of the afternoon matches, although neither Ronnie or Joe should underestimated their opponent. The evening id definitely “heavyweight” and both matches will probably be very close.