It’s only the second day, and only the conclusion of the last 64, but it already feels like a long tournament, with so much happening after a long break.
World number 75 Jak Jones recorded a shock 6-2 defeat of three-time World Champion Mark Williams to reach the last 32 of the International Championship in Daqing.
Welshman Jones had lost all three of his previous meetings with legendary compatriot Williams. However, it was Jones who looked more at ease in today’s clash and his win sets up a meeting with Robert Milkins in the next round.
22-time ranking event winner Williams did take the opening frame. However, Jones made breaks of 95 and 118 on his way to claiming six of the next seven to progress.
“Mark is probably the most successful Welsh player ever so to beat him is a really good win,” said Jones. “Hopefully I can be the same as players like Mark and Matthew Stevens in the future and be as successful as them. Obviously Matthew has started playing well again now and it is good for the game that the Welsh players have started playing better.”
2005 World Champion Shaun Murphy came through a dramatic deciding frame on the final black to defeat talented Chinese teenager Yuan Sijun 6-5.
Murphy is in need of a strong showing this week in Daqing, with it being the final event before the cut off for Shanghai Masters qualification. The Magician is currently ranked 15th in the provisional seedings, with the world’s top 16 gaining a place.
His spot in the elite 16 has come under threat after a dip in form last term and Murphy will be hoping today’s thrilling win can kick start a revival for him.
Triple Crown winner Murphy had trailed 4-2 and 5-4, before forcing a final frame where a clearance of 32 was required to come from behind and snatch victory on the last ball.
Murphy said: “It was unbelievable for a last 64 game. He played like a regular tournament winner. I was sat there thinking about what I was going to say afterwards when he was ahead. He played fabulously well. He played great snooker, he scored well and was clinical in the balls. I’m not really sure how I’ve won that game.
“After last season I need a good week every week. I’m used to needing to play well. Unfortunately I can do nothing about the ranking list. All I can do is prepare well for each game. It is a bit of a cliché, but all I can control is what I do out there and my attitude.
“Last year was the worst of my life. It is my job to try and turn that around. It is one match at a time, one ball at a time, one break at a time. I come to these tournaments to try and win them. I’m not here to make the numbers up.”
Defending champion Mark Allen booked his last 32 place with a 6-1 demolition of Sam Craigie.
Allen lifted the title last year after a 10-5 win over Neil Robertson in the final. He remained in the hunt for another Daqing title courtesy of today’s win over Craigie, which included breaks of 66, 141 and 66.
World Champion Judd Trump is still in the running for silverware on his first appearance of the season, thanks to a 6-2 win over China’s Zhang Anda. While Asian number one Ding Junhui overcame Zhao Xintong 6-4.
Three-time Crucible winner Mark Selby progressed after a 6-3 win over Liam Highfield and Riga Masters winner Yan Bingtao beat compatriot Chang Bingyu 6-3.
The big news is indeed Mark Williams exit, but considering the kind on “preparation” Mark is getting – if his twitter feed is being trusted anyway – it isn’t really surprising that he isn’t in stellar form. Jak Jones on the other hand has surely been working hard over the summer as his good run in Riga already showed ealier.
Everyone was as baffled as Shaun Murphy to see him emerging a winner yesterday. Here are the frame scores for that match:
Yuan should never have lost that match, even if Murphy was surely giving it his all, if only because his top 16 spot is in danger after a disaster last season.
Django Fung once told me that his Chinese players, when he was managing them, were always feeling a lot of pressure when playing at home. Only too often, they lose matches they dominated for most of the playing time. Zhao Xintong was another example against Ding yesterday. And Xiao Guodong won his match, but did this to himself, triggering a decider that he could maybe have avoided:
Mark Allen looked very solid. Judd Trump played a lot of brilliant pots but didn’t look fully at ease in broken, defensive play. Zhang had not what it takes to really put him under pressure, but IF there is a way to derail the Trump train, it clearly is by messing up the table and breaking his rythm. Easier written than done…
Liang Wenbo, who also badly needs results, managed to beat Duane Jones by 6-5 from 4-1 down, and going by the scores played very well. Jack Lisowski, on the other hand, was 4-1 up against Andrew Higginson and managed to lose by 6-5. Andrew’s HB was 56 and it was the only break over 50 he made all match. It’s hard to be a Jack fan!