Players Championship 2019 – Day 2

Day 2 in Preston saw wins from Mark Willams, Neil Robertson, Judd Trump and Jack Lisowski. Mark Williams is returning to form as was to be expected with the Crucible starting next month. There were still a few unexpected misses here and there – and Ali didn’t punish him – but overall he was very good. Judd Trump did play some incredible balls in a total demolition of Jimmy Robertson. The truth however is that Jimmy Robertson didn’t give him any sort of opposition. In frame 3, Judd missed a red in the top right pocket and looked shell-shocked for a split second. All reds were in the open, no ball was safe and there was more than enough on the table. At that level you would expect your opponent to clear, but Jimmy didn’t and Judd made it 3-0. That must have given him all the confidence he needed that his opponent wasn’t going to punish him. Again in frame 5, Judd needed four visits to win it, Jimmy had chances, didn’t take any. Personally, I’m not so sure how the match would have gone, had Jimmy taken frame 3, as he should have, and maybe planted seeds of doubt in Judd’s mind. Jack Lisowki beat Kyern Wilson quite convincingly: Kyren continues to struggle.

Here are the reports by Worldsnooker:

Afternoon session:

Neil Robertson and Mark Williams will go head to head in the quarter-finals of the Coral Players Championship, as they both came through their first round matches on Tuesday.

Robertson, in action for the first time since he won the Welsh Open in February, scored a 6-3 win over Joe Perry in Preston. The Melbourne native was content with his own performance, but less impressed by the Australian accent used by Ronnie O’Sullivan in his post-match interview on Monday night.

“Ronnie’s Aussie accent was way off, I don’t know what it was,” said Robertson. “You have to go deep into the bushes to find something like that back home. He could do with watching a bit more Chopper Read or some Aussie films to improve his accent.”

World number eight Robertson took a 5-2 lead over Perry with top breaks of 80, 107 and 101. Perry pulled one back and had chances in frame nine, crucially missing the final yellow when he looked set to make it 5-4. A relieved Robertson took advantage to seal victory.

“There were a couple of tactical frames but in the others I had some good breaks,” said Robertson. “Joe struggled a bit early on so I knew I had to get a good lead. It looked like going 5-4 in the end so I was pleased to finish it off.

“After the Welsh Open I had four or five days off to recharge the batteries. It’s a big part of the season coming up with massive tournaments, all at really good venues which is exciting, that’s what we play the game for.

“This event is the top 16 on the one year list so it’s the players in form, even more so than the Masters. A lot of the players in the field have won titles this season. It will be really tough to win. It’s fantastic to have best of 11 matches from the first round.”

On Thursday afternoon he’ll be up against Williams, who scored a 6-2 victory over Ali Carter. World Champion Williams has struggled to find his best form in recent months, admitting his dedication to practice has wavered. But breaks of 118, 131, 51, 70 and 79 today suggested he has regained his appetite, with the defence of his Crucible crown just a few weeks away.

Williams is close to guaranteeing a place at the Coral Tour Championship in Llandudno later this month which is only for the top eight players on the one-year ranking list – for more on that raceclick here.

“That’s probably the best I have played all season,” said the Welshman. “I felt good out there, I have been practising hard for the last few weeks and it showed. My break building was good, my safety was good and I enjoyed it.

“My main aim this season was to qualify for the Tour Championship, I am on the border of doing that now. I won a tournament at the start of the season (the Yushan World Open) which almost put me into Llandudno and that was my downfall because I haven’t played much since.”

Evening session:

Judd Trump crushed Jimmy Robertson 6-0 at the Coral Players Championship and is now just six wins away from a possible £500,000 pay-day.

Trump is through to the quarter-finals in Preston for a Wednesday evening showdown with close friend Jack Lisowski, who beat Kyren Wilson 6-4.

Bristol’s 29-year-old Trump won the Coral World Grand Prix last month, one of three events in the 2019 Coral Snooker Series, along with this week’s tournament and the new Coral Tour Championship in Llandudno later in March. If he captures all three trophies to complete the Coral Slam, he’ll have his prize money for those events rounded up from £375,000 to a massive £500,000.

And the world number five looked at the peak of his powers tonight as he whitewashed Robertson in just 81 minutes. Breaks of 105, 71, 50, 104 and 115 helped him to an emphatic victory.

“I started off well, scored heavily and my long potting was good,” said Trump, who has also won the Masters and Northern Ireland Open this season. “When you are winning tournaments, playing well and practising hard, you can relax from the start of matches, rather than worrying about how you are going to play as I have done in the past.

“This is an enjoyable period of the season with a lot of big tournaments and a lot of prize money. I really enjoy playing when there are one or two tables and longer matches, the atmosphere is a bit more special and there is prestige attached to these events.

“Jack has been consistent this season and when he wins his first title he will shoot up the rankings and you’ll see another level to his game.”

Asked about the possible £500,000 jackpot, he added: “Six matches is less than you would need to win a home nations event so it is reasonably close. But to do it I’ve got to beat six top players so it will be tough. If I can keep playing consistently the same way I will have a chance, or at least it will take someone playing unbelievably well to beat me.”

Lisowski reached the quarter-finals of a ranking event for the sixth time this season with an impressive display against Wilson.

From 1-0 down, world number 15 Lisowski took five of the next six frames with top runs of 50, 65, 121 and 59 to lead 5-2.  Wilson won a scrappy eighth frame then made an 83 for 5-4. But a superb pot on a red to a centre pocket early in frame ten set Lisowski up for a match-winning 110.

“I felt pretty calm,” said 27-year-old Lisowski. “I have been working on a few things to calm me down in the big arena. I managed to keep my concentration in front of the cameras. I’ve got great people around me and I’m listening to them to try to get better.

“I let Kyren off the hook a bit at 5-2 and it nearly cost me because he’s a great competitor and he wasn’t fazed by being behind. So in the end it was nice to pot a good red, get a bit of luck and make a century. My season has gone a bit quiet for the last few months so I’m not too high on confidence but I’m happy to be in another quarter-final.”

He and Trump are set to meet for the fourth time this season. Lisowski has only won one of the previous three, though that was also a best-of-11 meeting, at the International Championship when he scored a 6-2 success.

“He’s pretty much the best player in the world at the moment so it doesn’t get any harder than” said Lisowski, before heading with Trump to a late night pancake house in Preston. “If he has an off day and I can score then anything is possible. I’m looking forward to it.

“We’re so used to playing each other, we know it’s tough but we’re mates anyway. We’ll get some pancakes now then I’ll ignore him all day tomorrow.”

Today Mark Selby takes on John Higgins and it’s a hard one to predict: neither Selby nor Higgins have played their best snooker recently, and Higgins did go deep in India last week and might still be tired. Also Stuart Bingham and David Gilbert will meet in a match that may well decide who of the two will be in Llandudno. Stuart looked the stronger recently.

Later, in the evening, we will have the first quarter-final. Judd Trump will play Jack Lisowski and Jack has a good record against Judd.