Welsh Open 2019 – Day 6 in Cardiff – SF

After a tournament that produced surprises aplenty, with many top players crashing out in early rounds, we and up with two members of the top 16 competing in the final.

Indeed, yesterday, Stuart Bingham and Neil Robertson emerged the winners of two one-sided semi finals. Here is how we gor there (source Worldsnooker)

Stuart Bingham 6-2 Joe O’Connor

Stuart Bingham is through to the ManBetX Welsh Open final after defeating Joe O’Connor 6-2 in their last four clash at the Motorpoint Arena in Cardiff.

The five-time ranking event winner will now have appeared in three Welsh Open finals. Bingham lifted the Ray Reardon trophy in 2017 when he defeated Judd Trump, and also suffered a narrow loss against Stephen Maguire in the 2013 showpiece clash.

O’Connor’s fairytale run comes to an end. However, the 23-year-old tour rookie from Leicester can head home with memories of giant killing victories against Kyren Wilson, Ding Junhui and John Higgins. O’Connor pockets £20,000 for his run to the last four.

It took both players time to settle this afternoon and the pair traded two scrappy opening frames to make it 1-1. However, from there Bingham burst into life, with century runs of 107 and 100 putting him 3-1 ahead going into the mid-session interval.

Leicester’s O’Connor pulled one back when they returned. 2015 World Champion Bingham then swiftly regained control of proceedings. Further breaks of 104, 125 and 67 saw him surge over the line to book a place in tomorrow’s final.

“I’ve been there done it and got the t-shirt. That was probably the difference in settling down,” said Bingham. “We had a couple of frames when we couldn’t pot a ball and then I went on a four frame spurt when I couldn’t miss.

“I think when they make a mistake and you make a century, your opponent will start to second guess on 50/50 shots. It is like playing Ronnie, you know if you miss you are going to sit in your chair for the rest of the frame.  My game is there and long may it continue.”

O’Connor said: “It is a bit disappointing not playing as well as I have all week. Stuart played well and you can’t say much when he has made four centuries. He is a deserved winner and good luck to him.

“Beating Kyren Wilson, Ding and John Higgins, has sent my confidence through the roof at the moment. As long as I can avoid playing how I did today then I can compete with anyone.”

Neil Robertson 6-0 Hossein Vafaei

Neil Robertson produced a blistering display to brush Iranian Hossein Vafaei aside 6-0 and reach the final of the ManBetX Welsh Open at the Motorpoint Arena in Cardiff.

Australia’s Robertson is through to his third Welsh Open final. He dramatically won the title in 2007, defeating Andrew Higginson 9-8 to claim silverware and lost out in the 2016 final against Ronnie O’Sullivan. The Thunder from Down Under now faces Englishman Stuart Bingham in tomorrow’s showpiece match for £70,000 and the Ray Reardon Trophy. They will do battle over the best of 17 frames, with the first session starting at 1pm.

This week has already been an eventful one for the 14-time ranking event winner. He fired in the fourth 147 break of his career in the opening round against Jordan Brown. Last night, Robertson survived a scare in the quarter-finals, coming from 4-2 down to defeat Kurt Maflin 5-4. This evening’s match was a more one-sided affair.

Vafaei, competing in his second ranking event semi-final, struggled to settle and produce his best snooker. His learning curve at this stage of major competition has been a steep one, having lost out to Mark Williams 6-1 in the last four of the 2017 China Open. Iran’s first ever professional player will have to wait a little while longer to reach his maiden ranking final. However, he does pick up £20,000 for reaching the semi-finals.

There was a clear gulf between the pair’s performances this evening, with 2010 Crucible king Robertson stamping his authority from the off. A fine century run of 103 got Robertson off to the perfect start. Further breaks of 61 and a sublime 140 moved him 4-0 up at the mid-session.

It was a swift kill when they returned, with Robertson needing under half an hour to wrap up the final two required frames and seal a whitewash victory.

Robertson said: “You never really expect to win so comfortably. Hossein had his chances in the first four frames. Every little mistake he made I punished fully. That is what you have to do. You can’t let the crowd get behind the underdog. I just kept applying the pressure.

“I feel at the top of my game. No doubt. I’m hitting the ball great and playing with a smile on my face. The goal is to go out there and entertain the crowd and make them go away thinking about what a great match they have seen.

“Stuart Bingham is more than capable of crushing anyone on his day as well. He is such a heavy scorer. He plays the game very aggressively. We both play attacking snooker and hopefully I can get on top and have a good run and win convincingly. I’m also prepared for it being scrappy and can fight it out if need be as well.”

I didn’t see anything of the first match. Neil Robertson was truly impressive in the second one, but he also got some help from his opponent who never got going. Hossein didn’t play well, he made a lot of mistakes and every time left something for Neil who duly capitalised. During this match Neil had the form and the luck on his side!

It’s hard to predict a winner, but I slightly favour Neil Robertson today.

Ronnie was in the studio all day.

MissingClips ES Studio Bingham v O’Connor

The latter with a lovely interview with Joe O’Connor

MissingClips ES Studio Robertson v Vafaei

One thought on “Welsh Open 2019 – Day 6 in Cardiff – SF

  1. Outsiders usually hit the wall at the semi-final stage. There are a lot of players now on tour who have made it to a ranking semi-final, but no further. It’s a mixture of pressure on the main table, plus fatigue of playing a series of tough matches that ultimately takes its toll.

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