There were more surprises on day 2 in Cheltenham as the World Champion, Mark Williams and Neil Robertson. Neil was suffering from a flu and looked very tired. His opponent Xiao Guodong is a very good player but he rarely performed on the TV table. Yesterday he held himself together to win the deciding frame. Mark Williams didn’t play badly, but, just like Ronnie, he played against a player at his absolute best. Only that Yuan Sijun is only 18, not an experienced pro like Marco Fu who has been in the top 16 for years. Impressive … and a bit worrying for us Ronnie fans as that kid could well be his last 64 opponent at the Welsh Open next week!
It was a great day for the Chinese players – who were celebrating the Chinese New Year; it’s the Year of the Pig – as Ding Junhui also went through with a 4-1 convincing victory over Jack Lisowski.
Judd Trump went through but only just. This match showed that he is far from unbeatable. The key however is not to play the type of game that suits him, fast and open, potting fest. Yesterday Stuart Carrington methodical approach, slow going, with lots of safeties clearly frustrated Judd Trump who went cold, looked anxious, became impatient and started to miss all sorts. Carrington could and should have won that match.
Here are the reports on Worldsnooker:
Yuan Sijun produced a sublime display to defeat World Champion Mark Williams 4-3 on day two of the Coral World Grand Prix in Cheltenham.
The 18-year-old Chinese star had already shown a glimpse of his potential this season with a fine run to the quarter-finals of the China Championship, which included a win over Ding Junhui.
Despite falling at the first hurdle today, Williams remains in 4th place on the one-year list and in a strong position to qualify for the remaining events in the Coral Series. The top 16 will progress to the Players Championship in Preston and the top eight will contest the Tour Championship.
The pair battled out a pulsating match this afternoon. With the score at 1-1 Yuan took to the front for the first time with a century run of 100. The 22-time ranking event winner Williams responded immediately with a contribution of 138 to level.
Williams then edged to the verge of victory by taking the fifth frame on a re-spotted black to make it 3-2. However, Yuan forced a decider with a run of 131 and he got over the line for a huge victory in the final frame.
Yuan said: “My form has been pretty good recently and I knew I had the chance to beat top players. I was a little bit surprised to qualify for this event after a tough first season on tour. The World Grand Prix wasn’t even in my thoughts six months ago.”
China’s Xiao Guodong also secured an impressive win on Chinese New Year. He defeated 2010 World Champion Neil Robertson 4-3.
It was a very successful day for his household, as he actually lives with fellow victor Yuan in Darlington. Xiao is now a very experienced player on the circuit, having competed for 11 years as a professional and is pleased to see Yuan performing well in his second year on tour.
Xiao said: “I’m very happy to see him win. We stay together and sometimes I cook for him. He is a young player and he can’t speak English that makes it hard to come and live here. He is doing well this season and I am pleased to see that. Sometimes he asks me things and I am happy to help him.”
Ali Carter also progressed thanks to a hard fought 4-3 win over Martin O’Donnell. While Mark Davis overcame Jimmy Robertson 4-3 to book his last 16 spot.
Trump is aiming for his third title of the season having won the Northern Ireland Open and the Masters, and he looked sharp as he took the first three frames against Carrington with top breaks of 92 and 122.
His opponent fought back bravely to 3-3 to threaten an upset, and he had two clear chances in the decider but couldn’t take them. World number five Trump snatched victory with a 30 clearance to set up a last 16 clash on Wednesday evening with Tom Ford, who edged out Joe Perry 4-3 with a top break of 79.
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Ding made it a good day for China as he joined Xiao Guodong and Yuan Sijun in round two. And the 13-time ranking event winner was in sizzling form as he fired breaks of 52, 88 and 126 against Lisowski.
Cheltenham’s Lisowski took the opening frame but his hopes of a deep run in his home tournament were short lived as Ding won four in a row, finishing the match with 349 unanswered points. He now plays David Gilbert or Yan Bingtao on Thursday.
“I’m very happy to have played well out there,” said world number nine Ding. “Jack played some bad safeties and gave me some easy balls to start breaks. My cue ball control was good.”
Ding is currently 24th on the one-year ranking list and needs to be in the top 16 by the end of this month to qualify for March’s Coral Players Championship in Preston. “This is a good chance to climb up,” he added. “The next target is to play well in this tournament and get into the top 16.”
Stephen Maguire top scored with 73 in a 4-1 win over Mark King, setting up a match with Chinese teenager Yuan, who knocked out Mark Williams earlier today.