The last day of the second round at the Crucible had only two sessions but it was quite intense! This is the line-up it delivered for the quarter finals:
David Gilbert v Kyren Wilson
John Higgins v Neil Robertson
Gary Wilson v Ali Carter
Judd Trump v Stephen Maguire
Before going to a mini-preview of those matches here are the reports by Worldsnooker on yesterday action.
Ali Carter won six consecutive frames in the final session of his match with Zhou Yuelong at the Betfred World Championship to win 13-9 and reach the quarter-finals for the sixth time.
Chelmsford’s 39-year-old Carter has a reputation for raising his game at the Crucible, having reached the final in 2008 and 2012, and once again he found his rhythm when he needed it most. He trailed China’s Zhou by margins of 5-1 and 9-7, but dominated the final session to win comfortably.
Carter goes through to the quarter-finals to face Gary Wilson on Tuesday and Wednesday. Both players have now won five matches in the event having come through the qualifying rounds.
World number 19 Carter has been unlucky to run into an in-form Ronnie O’Sullivan in both of his previous visits to the final, but with O’Sullivan out of contention this time, he could be forgiven for dreaming of the ultimate prize. Having battled cancer twice as well as Crohn’s disease, he has come through tougher tests in his life.
World number 35 Zhou was the youngest player in the field at 21 and had reached the second round in Sheffield for the first time, but fell away today in the concluding stages. Still, the £30,000 pay day is the biggest of his career.
A scrappy opening frame today went Carter’s way, and he rattled through the next three frames with breaks of 72, 72 and 55 to go 11-9 ahead. Frame 21 came down to the last red, Carter potting it and clearing up to extend his lead.
The 22nd also came down to the last red, and this time Carter missed a tough long pot to gift his opponent a chance to clear. Zhou got to the final black but over-cut a tricky pot to a top corner, leaving Carter to slot in the black for victory.
“It feels like I’ve swum the Channel to get through that match,” said four-time ranking event winner Carter, whose best run so far this season took him to the final of the World Grand Prix in February. “It was only in the end where Zhou’s lack of experience showed and that’s about the only thing I had over him in the end.
“He just kept coming back at me in the second session. I climbed a mountain to go 7-6 in front and then slid all the way back down again to go 9-7.
“I gave Peter Ebdon a call before I went out today. I said it’s about time I did something special and I need a special performance to get through. He just told me to go out and do what I know how to do. I produced it to 12-9. It was a bit sticky to get over the line but I’m delighted to get through.
“I just stuck to my principles in the last six frames, doing the simple things well. It’s the hardest thing to do when you’re bang under pressure, and I can’t tell you how much pressure there is out there.
“Gary Wilson is a very good player, he did a job on Selby. He’s going to want to get to the one table set up just as much as I do.
“I feel like I deserve to be world champion. I haven’t won it, I’ve lost in the final twice to Ronnie. It’s my chance to put things right. This tournament is the one that means everything to me. I’ve been here for 17 years and with everything I’ve been through, to get to another quarter-final is not a bad record in itself.”
Zhou said: “Ali played better than me today. Coming into the last session I was a little bit nervous. I still had a chance in the last two frames but I’d lost some concentration. I didn’t sleep well last night so I was feeling the pressure.
“In the last two weeks, since the qualifiers started, I haven’t been eating well. Every day I have just a little bit to eat, because of the pressure. Now the game has finished I can relax now, and it has made me want to win more.”
I didn’t see anything of the last session, so can’t say anything about the action. But I listened to both players post-match interviews with Eurosport and Ali was full of praise for his young opponent, branding him a “very tough match player”. That coming from someone who is a very tough match player himself means a lot, especially considering that Zhou is only 21. Zhou’s interview was revealing about how much pressure he felt, unable to sleep and eat properly. He never played a best of 25 before, over three sessions. Ali himself admitted that experience played a major part in the outcome of this match. I’m sure that we will see much more of Zhou.
Kyren Wilson 13-11 Barry Hawkins
Kyren Wilson completed a fightback from 6-1 down to beat Barry Hawkins 13-11 and reach the quarter-finals of the Betfred World Championship.
The high quality encounter saw the pair fire in nine centuries between them, with Wilson contributing five and Hawkins compiling four. That is second only to Ding Junhui and Alan McManus’ 2016 semi-final, where they made ten centuries – the most ever in a single match at the Crucible.
27-year-old Wilson is now through to his fourth consecutive Crucible quarter-final, where he will face David Gilbert, who beat defending champion Mark Williams. The Warrior reached the one-table semi-finals for the first time in 2018. His superb run was ended by John Higgins on that occasion, as he succumbed to a valiant 17-13 defeat against the four-time World Champion.
Wilson has enjoyed one of his best seasons on the World Snooker Tour. The world number eight has picked up two ranking titles in a season for the first time. He earned silverware by coming from 2-0 down to defeat former mentor and 2002 World Champion Peter Ebdon 4-2 in the final of the Paul Hunter Classic. The Kettering potter was also victorious at the German Masters, beating David Gilbert 9-7 to lift the trophy in front of 2,500 fans at Berlin’s Tempodrom.
Crucible specialist Hawkins misses out on reaching the quarter-finals for the first time in seven years. The Londoner made the world final in 2013, losing to Ronnie O’Sullivan, and has won more matches at snooker’s Theatre of Dreams than any other player since that year.
Wilson claimed yesterday evening’s session to cut Hawkins’ advantage to 9-7. It didn’t take long for the Warrior to wipe out the Hawk’s remaining two-frame cushion this afternoon. He took the first two of the session to draw level for the first time since the start of the match at 9-9.
However, three-time ranking event winner Hawkins moved to the front once again in the following frame, compiling a run of 64 to go 10-9 up. Wilson then ensured parity at the mid-session interval with a break of 84.
Wilson had looked in position to edge into the lead, before breaking down on a contribution of 43. That allowed Hawkins to step in and counter with a break of 69 to regain the lead at 11-10
Fortunes were reversed in the following frame. Hawkins was in first, before misjudging a plant to the bottom corner on 41. Wilson stepped in and made a sublime clearance of 81 to make it 11-11.
From that moment Wilson ruthlessly charged to the line. He made consecutive century breaks of 125 and 132 to clinch a superb win.
Wilson said: “Towards the end I was able to reel off the frames very comfortably, and scored very heavily. I’ve worked really hard for this event. This is where you put in the time practising for, you rely on it and it comes out. Obviously it’s very pleasing for me that I managed to play well at the key part of the match.
“I always feel like I bring my best game to the Crucible. I usually start off quite slow. It’s one of those venues where you just need to ease your way into it. I played some very good snooker yesterday evening and today. My form is starting to rise and that is what you have to do if you want to try and go all the way in the tournament.
“It’s going to be a very tough game against David Gilbert. He’s probably one of the best cueists on the tour and he’s fantastic to watch. We had a good game in the German Masters final earlier this season and I’m sure another one is in store. He’s beaten the defending champion and looked good in doing it.”
Hawkins said: “The session yesterday evening cost me. The way I started I felt great, but last night it disappeared. That sums up my season, up one minute and down the next. I’m a bit disappointed but he finished the match off brilliantly at the end there.
There isn’t much to add to this. It was one of the best matches of the tournament so far. Kyren Wilson fighting spirit is quite something and I would love to see him go all the way. Barry Hawkins used to be a picture of consistency, but wasn’t this season, as himself admitted, and that made the difference. Both made mistakes in this match, but Kyren managed to step up a gear when he needed to. That’s a very positive sign.
John Higgins 13-11 Stuart Bingham
Four-time Crucible king John Higgins won a tough battle against Stuart Bingham 13-11 to set up a blockbuster quarter-final against Neil Robertson at the Betfred World Championship.
Robertson has been the player of the tournament so far but could face an almighty test against one of snooker’s all-time greats. After a poor season, barren of silverware, Higgins has the capacity to rise to the occasion in the Crucible cauldron.
The 43-year-old Scot was devastated to lose in the final in both 2017 and 2018, missing out a fifth world crown, and will use that as motivation for another title challenge.
Higgins was pushed all the way by 2015 champion Bingham and there were never more than two frames between them after Higgins recovered an early 4-1 deficit.
Going into tonight’s conclusion they were level at 8-8. World number five Higgins won the opening frame with a break of 97. He had a chance to clear from 60-0 down in the next but ran out of position on the yellow on 46, and Bingham got the better of a battle on the colours to restore parity.
A trademark Higgins clearance of 76, from 51-0 down, put him 10-9 ahead. Bingham looked set to level in frame 20 until he missed a red to a baulk corner on 67, and again Higgins punished him with a 50 clearance.
After the interval, world number 12 Bingham showed his fighting qualities as he took two fragmented frames to level at 11-11, before Higgins made a 43 in the next as he regained the lead. Early in frame 24, Bingham went for a risky plant on two reds, which missed its target. Higgins took advantage with a break of 63, and he later potted the penultimate red to secure a 15th Crucible quarter-final.
“It’s a great win,” said Wishaw’s Higgins. “Stuart’s a tough player, an unbelievable player, so I’m over the moon. I nicked a couple of frames from 9-9. When it went 11-9 the pressure went back on to me, I seized up a little bit and Stuart played well. I felt as if I wasn’t getting through the ball, I was bashing it. I managed to regroup and played two decent frames to win it.
“I put in some work with Anthony McGill and Stephen Maguire before coming here, so I was coming prepared better than I have been in the rest of the season.
“Neil’s the tournament favourite for a reason. He could be sitting here with five tournaments under his belt this season but for Ronnie O’Sullivan beating him in a couple of finals. He’s playing with a lot of confidence so he’s going to be tough to stop. I’ve just got to play my own game and see where it takes me.”
Bingham said: “I had my opportunities in the first four frames tonight and I probably could have won all of them. When you’re 50 points up and you leave John a chance he will punish you. At the moment it’s tough to take, but I enjoyed myself and it was a good battle.
“Overall I’ve had a very good season, winning a couple of tournaments, and I have to take the positives out of having a good match with John.”
Not the result I wanted. I’m no fan of either player here but I would support anyone against John Higgins in any match. I used to like him, really did. He’s a formidable player, no question. But I was in the media room on a certain night in May 2010 and, unless dementia gets the better of me, I will never forget what I saw and heard that night. The absolute horror of it, felt by all at the time, amplified by the fact that Higgins was (still) the reigning World Champion and the World n°1. It remains my opinion that he got away with it extremely lightly. Enough said. Bingham’s attempt of that plant was the wrong shot at that time of the match in my opinion. The way the balls opened, leaving a red over a pocket, I knew this was the end for him. I switched off the television.
Judd Trump produced a blistering display, as he came from 9-7 down to defeat Ding Junhui 13-9 and reach the quarter-finals of the Betfred World Championship.
Victory sees Bristol’s Trump secure his sixth appearance in the last eight of snooker’s biggest tournament. He will face Stephen Maguire for a place in the one-table semi-finals, which Trump hasn’t featured in since 2015.
Masters champion Trump has now levelled Ding at 6-6 in their head-to-head record. Both players are former finalists at the Theatre of Dreams and have been heavily tipped as contenders to be the next first time World Champion. However, it is Trump who remains in the hunt to break his Crucible duck this year.
Ding appeared to have the momentum at the end of yesterday’s second session, taking the final two frames to secure his 9-7 lead. However, Trump stopped China’s 13-time ranking event winner in his stride this evening.
Breaks of 93, 79, 53 and 103 helped him to take the first five frames and move one from victory at 12-9.
World number seven Trump then appeared to be in position to complete a clean-sweep of the frames when he missed an easy blue on 47. Ding had the opportunity to steal, but missed the pink when trying to force position on the final yellow. A safety battle ensued, before a mistake from Ding allowed Trump to deposit the yellow and clear to secure victory.
“I was prepared to go out there and fight for every point tonight. I went out with the mentality that I wasn’t going to lose,” said 29-year-old Trump. “Stephen Maguire is always going to be a tough player. Ali Carter is always going to be a hard game and Gary Wilson is playing the best snooker of his life. There are no easy games anymore. This is the last eight of the World Championship, so I’m going to have to be on my game from the very start.
“I can’t afford to start the next match how I have in the first couple of games or it will be a long way back and I’ll be going home. Hopefully I can play like I did tonight. I just need to stay calm.”
Ding said: “He played great this evening. I only got a few chances. In the first two frames I had some opportunities, but didn’t score heavily enough. He came back strongly this evening and looked very good.
“I’m going to spend some more time with my daughter now. She was born at the start of the season, and I haven’t had a lot of time with her. I’ll look forward to next season, but I’m not going to worry or push myself too much.”
Judd Trump played well in this session, and sensibly too. In his interview with Eurosport he said that he had been working hard between sessions and made a few technical changes. It showed, and all credits to him for that. However, unless he improves further I can’t see him winning the title this year. Of course he still has the opportunity to improve and build himself into better form. What I mean is this: in the studio, the ES pundits were piling up the superlatives about Judd’s game, however, when Jimmy White was asked who was playing the better snooker between Judd Trump and Kyren Wilson, his answer was immediate: Kyren. Trump’s game is more spectacular, but not necessarily always efficient just yet. As for Ding … what can I say? IMO he will never win the World Championship, I’m not even sure if will ever win another tournament again. He looked like a man with no self-belief and no motivation at the table, or later during his press conference. He was all smiles. He was going to see his little girl … Well, Ding has been carrying far too much expectations, for far too long, and from a very young age. I don’t blame him if he just wants to “live”. His little girl will grow up fast, those early years are to be treasured. Will he be allowed to? I’m not sure. I think he should be. Away from the limelight. He’s only 32 and a good long break from the game might rekindle his appetite after a while. Carrying on like this will not.
Now onto my mini preview for what it’s worth
David Gilbert v Kyren Wilson
Both players impressed me. Both played really well in the first two rounds. Very little separates them in terms of the snooker they played, although they have quite different styles. What could make a difference here is experience of the bigger stage, and experience of winning. For that reason I make Kyren favourite. Kyren Wilson 13-10.
John Higgins v Neil Robertson
Neil has been the better player in the second half of the season. Since February he has only lost two matches, both finals, and the man who beat him isn’t in the draw anymore. He’s also the youngest player of the two, and has got some time to rest before this match. I think (and hope) that he will have too much for Higgins. Neil Robertson 13-9 (or better).
Gary Wilson v Ali Carter
Experience is on Ali Carter’s side, but in my opinion Gary Wilson has played the better snooker coming into this match. Gary’s tactical game has been impressive: his accuracy with pace and angles was phenomenal. He’s also got some time to rest. Ali Carter just came out of a very hard battle. Gary Wilson 13-10.
Judd Trump v Stephen Maguire
Now I’m not sure what to do with this one. Neither player has been consistent. About anything could happen. However I would be surprised if Maguire ran away with the match, whilst Trump might win by some margin if Maguire gets frustrated, although he recovered well from bouts of frustration in the previous rounds. I’ll abstain. Twiches, outrageous flukes and cuebangs.