China Championship 2019 – Day 6 – SF

So, we will have Mark Williams v Shaun Murphy in tomorrow’s final.

In the first semi final today Mark Williams beat Hossein Vafaei by 6-5 in an excellent match. Hossein came back fro 5-2 down to force a decider and deserves a lot of credit. Both players players some fantastic shots.

As Mark Williams mentioned in his post-match interview, although he won quite a few matches, he hasn’t played really well for a very long time, even in this tournament. Today he was markedly better though.

Quite remarkably, Hossein Vafaei had not lost a match this season before today. In both previous ranking tournament this season, the Riga Masters and the International Championship he had been forced to withdraw because of visa issues. He is provisionally ranked n°31, his better ranking to date and a 10 place improvement from his current n° 41. However, every season he’s missing several tournaments because of visa issues and he should be higher really.

Here is the report by Worldsnooker:

Mark Williams held off a Hossein Vafaei fightback to clinch his place in the final of the Evergrande China Championship with a 6-5 win.

Tomorrow will be the 35th time Williams has graced a ranking event final. He will be up against either Shaun Murphy or Mark Selby over 19 frames, with the winner picking up £150,000.

22-time ranking event winner Williams hasn’t appeared in a final since the Yushan World Open at the start of last season. On that occasion he mounted a remarkable comeback to beat David Gilbert 10-9 from 9-5 down.

Vafaei will have to wait in his quest to reach a maiden ranking event final. The Iranian number one has now lost all three of his semi-final appearances, having also bowed out in the last four at the 2017 China Open and the 2019 Welsh Open.

It had looked as if Williams was in for a comfortable afternoon today when he took the opening three frames to lead 3-0.

The Welshman then appeared to be in position to go four up at the mid-session. Vafaei was trailing in the frame and came to the table with the white stuck perilously underneath the jaws of the left hand baulk pocket. However, he deposited a sensational long red to set up a clearance of 42 which made it 3-1.

They then traded frames, with Vafaei composing a superb break of 134 to stay in touch at 4-2 down.

Williams made it 5-2, before three frames on the bounce from Vafaei forced a decider. Three-time World Champion Williams showed his metal by potting an incredible cut back red to the top right to set up a break of 91 which wrapped up victory.

“He was looking stronger towards the end. I pulled out a fantastic red. I thought I had to go for it,” said 44-year-old Williams. “I could have played that shot another 20 times and not got it. I am glad to get over the line.

“Apart from four frames on the bounce against David Gilbert I have been playing my C game. I have just been sticking in there. I haven’t had a century break since I have been here. I’ll have to play better to win the final. Even if I lose the final who cares, I am amazed I am still here.”

Here is a mini collection of great shots this match produced:

The second semi final saw Shaun Murphy beat Mark Selby by 6-3. Neither player played particularly well. Shaun struggled with the pace of the table from start to finish, regularlrly over-screwing shots. Mark Selby made two centuries … and countless unexpected, uncharacteristic mistakes, even in the safety department. Despite this it was quite entertaining in it own way.

It’s Shaun third final in a row this season, a complete contrast with the last season disastrous run.

Here is Worldsnooker report:

Shaun Murphy won a gruelling clash with Mark Selby 6-3 to book his place in the final of the Evergrande China Championship.

The Magician has enjoyed a supreme start to his 2019/20 campaign and is now into his third consecutive final. 2005 World Champion Murphy was runner-up in the previous two events, to Judd Trump at the International Championship and Ronnie O’Sullivan at the Shanghai Masters.

He will be hoping to go one step further tomorrow when he takes on 22-time ranking event winner Mark Williams for the title and the £150,000 top prize.

Defending champion Selby will leave Guangzhou disappointed at missing out on his first title since victory here last year. However, he will pocket £32,000 for his second semi-final appearance of the season, following a run to the last four at the International Championship.

Murphy carried over his red-hot form to the opening exchanges today as he surged to a 3-0 advantage, making a break of 96 along the way.

However, Selby forced himself into contention with back-to-back century runs of 101 and 100 to trail by just one at 3-2.

Murphy moved 4-2 ahead before nerves began to kick in for both players in a tense seventh frame. Eventually, after 53 minutes of play, Selby managed to clinch it and close within one at 4-3.

Triple Crown winner Murphy wasn’t to be denied and claimed the eighth frame, before a break of 88 sealed his spot in the final.

Murphy said: “I am delighted to be in another final. As you get older you get a bit of perspective. Things have come fairly easy to me during my career. I won the Triple Crown and other tournaments. Off the back of the worst season of my life last year I value things a lot more now.

“I’m really looking forward to the final. Any time you play those greats like Williams, O’Sullivan and Higgins it is a special moment. For it to be in a final it is doubly special.

“It would mean everything to win tomorrow. It is what all the hours of practice are for. It is to take those trophies home to your family.”

And Shaun’s postmatch interview