Day 4 is also very busy in the Home Nations as 32 become just eight, and yesterday was no exception. Another host of top players went out: Ronnie, Mark Allen and Barry Hawkins in the last 32, then Mark Selby, Jack Lisowski and Ding Junhui in the last 16. This leaves us with an eclectic line-up featuring only three of the last 16: Neil Robertson, Stuart Bingham and John Higgins, the defending champion. The latter isn’t playing particularly well but is still winning. Yesterday evening, Jack Lisowski really left him off the hook. Ding Junhui’s defeat means that he won’t be at the Players Championship, nor at the Tour Championship this year.
Alexander then went on to lose to Xao Xintong who seems to be in great form and scoring heavily. Xao who dropped off the tour at the end of last season, immediately requalified and has already won more money and points this season than any other Chinese player.
The man who stole the show though was Noppon Saengkham, who made a 147 and …
and the 147
Ronnie was back in the studio.
Here is some coverage:
And the reports on Worldsnooker
Switzerland’s Alexander Ursenbacher scored the best win of his career so far as he beat Ronnie O’Sullivan 4-2 in the third round of the ManBetX Welsh Open.
So far this season, world number 71 Ursenbacher had not been beyond the last 64 of a ranking event, until this week as he is now into the last 16 in Cardiff to face China’s Zhao Xintong on Thursday evening.
Ursenbacher got to the semi-finals of the English Open last season but the 22-year-old subsequently struggled to replicate the same form – until today when he outplayed four-time Welsh Open champion O’Sullivan.
World number three O’Sullivan took the opening frame with a break of 118, his 994th career century, but he lost three of the next four frames as his Swiss opponent got on a roll with runs of 70, 52 and 57. In frame six, O’Sullivan had a chance to clear from 42-0 down to make it 3-3, but he missed the yellow off the last red on 35.
Ursenbacher was left with a tricky thin cut on the yellow to a baulk corner, playing the the rest, but executed it perfectly and cleared to the pink for victory.
“I didn’t expect to beat him, though I knew it was possible if I took my chances. I’m feeling good!” said Ursenbacher. “It’s my biggest win. If you play well then the wins come automatically. I’m full of confidence now but I won’t go any further if I don’t concentrate on each ball.”
Asked about the crucial pot on the yellow in the last frame, he added: “I wasn’t even sure if it went. I just knew if I hit it really thin with loads of side and didn’t hit the brown, it might go in. And I knew if I potted it I would win the match. Ronnie asked me at the end if the yellow went because he didn’t think it did, and I said ‘I don’t know!’ I just went for it.”
O’Sullivan said: “The better man won on the day. He potted some great balls and played with freedom and abandonment which is a fantastic way to approach any game. I’ve got nothing but praise for him, he’s great to watch. I had fun out there and gave it my best shot.”
Following the exits of Judd Trump, Mark Williams, Kyren Wilson and now O’Sullivan, there were further surprise results as Shoot Out champion Michael Georgiou scored a 4-2 win over Barry Hawkins while Ian Burns top scored with 103 in a 4-2 win over Mark Allen.
Burns said: “Mark is one of the best players in the world and his form has been unbelievable. He wasn’t at his best today but I played some good stuff myself.”
World number one Mark Selby beat Noppon Saengkham 4-1 in a high quality match. Selby compiled breaks of 107 and 115 while Thailand’s Saengkham made his first 147 in the second frame.
Jack Lisowski knocked in breaks of 127, 101, 82, 63 and 54 as he edged out Sam Craigie 4-3. Ding Junhui came from 2-0 down to beat Joe Perry 4-2 with a top break of 98. Neil Robertson recovered a 3-1 deficit to beat Paul Davison 4-3.
Defending champion John Higgins made a trademark clearance in the deciding frame to beat Jack Lisowski 4-3 and reach the quarter-finals of the ManBetX Welsh Open.
Higgins is through to the last eight of a ranking event for only the second time this season and first since September’s China Championship.
The 43-year-old will take confidence from the way he finished off the match tonight in Cardiff, as he kept his pursuit of a sixth Welsh Open title alive.
It was high quality snooker with three centuries within the first four frames, Higgins making a 103 while Lisowski knocked in 134 and 115 to leave the score at 2-2. Scotland’s Higgins got the better of frame five, then Gloucestershire’s Lisowski levelled at 3-3.
Lisowski had two clear chances in the decider, but missed the green to a baulk corner on 26, then a tricky red to a centre pocket on 14. From 40-1 down, Higgins cleared the table superbly with 71.
Higgins will now face tour rookie Joe O’Connor, who scored the best result of his career so far with a 4-1 win over Ding Junhui. Leicester’s 23-year-old O’Connor scored a top break of 93.
“I played well, I took my chances,” said O’Connor, who also knocked out Kyren Wilson yesterday. “This has been my best tournament so far and I just want to enjoy it from now. It means the world because my dad and a few friends are here and it’s nice to see them proud.”
Stuart Bingham, who won this title two years ago, finished off a 4-2 win over Robbie Williams in sensational style. From 2-1 down, Bingham took the last three frames with breaks of 128, 103 and 124.
Neil Robertson took just 53 minutes to beat Michael Georgiou 4-0, knocking in runs of 79, 75 and 62. “When you play a second match in a day you never know who is going to recover the best,” said Australia’s Robertson.
“We had a laugh afterwards because Michael told me how knackered he was after the first couple of frames. Everyone today is just desperate to get to the quarter-finals, this is the trickiest day of the tournament. I’m really looking forward to tomorrow now.”
Alexander Ursenbacher knocked out Ronnie O’Sullivan earlier in the day but couldn’t keep his run going as he lost 4-2 to gifted Chinese potter Zhao Xintong, who fired runs of 104, 73, 56 and 86.
Scott Donaldson reached the semi-finals in Cardiff in 2017 and he needs just one more win to match that run. In the last 16 he saw off Ian Burns 4-2 with a top break of 110. Norway’s Kurt Maflin was another 4-2 winner, beating Elliot Slessor with a top run of 78.
At this stage, I admit that I’d like to see an “outsider” win the title. Joe O’Connor who is in his first year on the tour really impressed me since December, and Xao Xintong proving he’s not a flash in the pan would be great as well. Unlikely, but the way this comp is going you never know…