Ronnie beat John Higgins by 6-4 to book his place in the semi finals of the Players Championship 2019. It was a match in two parts. For the first three frames neither player looked able to control the cue ball and there wasn’t a single break over 50. Ronnie’s long potting had gone missing and he was leaving a tempter for John from each break-off. John’s long potting was better but he was missing unexpectedly in the balls. From what Ronnie said in his press conference the conditions were really difficult – the cushions being “pingy” – and they needed time to adapt.
In the last before the MSI John made a 96 and the match changed. After the MSI, Ronnie’s long potting was still poor, but he was focused, his safety was very good and he was very reliable in the balls. That made the difference. Ronnie had a 92 and two centuries. The last frame was very, very tense. Overall it was an enjoyable match for the neutral, it had a bit of everything.
Here are a few images, thanks to Tai Chengzhe.
and the report by Worldsnooker:
The Rocket will face Mark Allen in the last four at the Preston Guild Hall in Saturday at 7pm, with the winner going through to Sunday’s final to compete for the £125,000 top prize (limited number of tickets still available, for details click here).
Just as he did after the opening round on Monday, O’Sullivan put on a comical Australian accent for his post match interviews. But on the table there are no distractions from the serious business as he seeks to defend this title and chases a fourth trophy of the season. The 43-year-old is also just three centuries away from a milestone achievement of 1,000 career tons.
Today’s meeting between O’Sullivan and Higgins was their 62nd since turning pro in 1992, with O’Sullivan now leading the head-to-head record 34-28.
It was a cagey start, the first three frames taking 52 minutes, without a break over 50. O’Sullivan took two of those, then Higgins got going with a run of 96 for 2-2.
After the interval, O’Sullivan stepped up a gear with 101 and 92 to go 4-2 up. Higgins responded with 65 and 61 to take the seventh frame, then O’Sullivan’s 116, his 997th career century, made it 5-3.
A scrappy ninth frame went to Wizard of Wishaw Higgins and he had a clear chance in the tenth but missed the pink to a top corner on 16. O’Sullivan replied with 53, and though he under-cut a frame-ball pot on the penultimate red to a centre pocket, he got another chance and potted the last red to seal the contest.
“It’s always a tough game with John, he’s a great player,” said five-time World Champion O’Sullivan. “I’m pleased to be in the next round. Mark Allen has had a very good season, winning two tournaments. I’ll have to play well.”
Today’s result means that Higgins cannot qualify for the Coral Tour Championship in Llandudno later this month, as he had to win the title this week to earn a spot in North Wales. The top six players on the one-year ranking list (Mark Allen, Judd Trump, Neil Robertson, Mark Selby, O’Sullivan and Mark Williams) are sure of their places. Next week’s Gibraltar Open will see Stuart Bingham, Kyren Wilson and David Gilbert battle for the other two spots.
There is another aspect too: should Ronnie win this tournament, he would return to World n°1 in the provisional seeding that will count for the Crucible … maybe not for long as there are a lot of points for the grabs in Llandudno and he’s not going to China, but still.