The last 64 round, played yesterday, saw the departure of the defending champion, Stuart Bingham and of Mark Williams.
Ronnie O’Sullivan had to come from 2-0 down for the second consecutive match at the 19.com English Open but once again prevailed 4-3 to reach the third round.
On Monday, O’Sullivan had to come from 2-0 and 3-2 down to beat Jamie O’Neill, and today’s meeting with China’s up-and-coming Yuan Sijun followed a similar pattern. Breaks of 79 and 104 put Yuan 2-0 ahead. Five-time World Champion O’Sullivan pulled one back with a run of 68 then Yuan went 3-1 up with a 66.
O’Sullivan then stepped up a gear and took the last three frames with 81, 84 and 87, making it six wins from six matches so far this season, having triumphed at last month’s Shanghai Masters. His next opponent is Iran’s Hossein Vafaei.
“I don’t judge whatever I do these days, I just go out and play,” said O’Sullivan. “Whatever happens this will be a fantastic week for me, if I lose I can do a bit of punditry.”
Trump’s 4-0 win over Daniel Wells was highlighted by breaks of 108 and 90. “I haven’t played well here so far, I am making errors,” admitted the world number one and World Champion. “I’m just trying to find some form, trying to get back to the way I played at the Crucible, playing with freedom and enjoying it.”
Robertson came through a tricky test against Marco Fu 4-2, compiling runs of 75, 50 and 100. “It was a tough draw and a good win – I had to prepare myself for the best Marco Fu,” said Robertson. “I am hungry to try to win a tournament as soon as I can this season.”
Stuart Bingham saw the defence of his title ended by a 4-1 defeat against China’s 17-year-old Si Jiahui. Tour rookie Si hadn’t won a professional match before this tournament, but having knocked out Soheil Vahedi in round one, he got the better of Bingham with top breaks of 85 and 68.
World number three Mark Williams was another high profile casualty as he lost 4-1 to Michael Holt, whose top break was 86. “I just need to handle the nerves because that’s what has stopped me in the past,” said Holt. “If I keep this mentality and mindset, it doesn’t matter who I play. I feel better in practice than I have done for the last couple of seasons.”
Shaun Murphy beat Sunny Akani 4-1, making a break of 133 in the fourth frame. That was the 500th century of his career; he joins Ronnie O’Sullivan, Stephen Hendry, John Higgins, Neil Robertson, Judd Trump, Mark Selby and Ding Junhui as the only players to have crossed that milestone.
Jack Lisowski made a 59 clearance in the decider to edge out Alfie Burden 4-3, while three-time Crucible king Mark Selby top scored with 77 in a 4-1 defeat of Martin O’Donnell. Mark Allen saw off Andy Lee 4-0 with a top run of 86.
Kyren Wilson beat Bai Langning 4-3 thanks to a 65 in the decider, while David Gilbert made breaks of 130, 88 and 136 in a 4-0 win over Ryan Davies.
Amongst the above results, Stuart Bingham’s 4-1 defeat by Si Jiahui is certainly the biggest surprise of the tournament so far. Stuart’s form has been dire so far this season.
Today, two rounds will be played: the last 32 and the last 16.
This the last 32 draw and schedule:
Despite a number of early exits at the top, it’s a very interesting line-up: nearly every match there would be worth the television table!
There are still four very young Chinese players in the draw, including Fan Zhengyi who hasn’t had the best time on the tour until now. I’m happy to see him improving; hopefully this will boost his confidence a bit.
Still in the draw as well is rookie Louis Heathcote, from Leicester. Louis impressed in the Q-school and his results so far confirm his quality: he’s won four of the seven matches he played so far.
Ronnie will first play Hossein Vafaei, someone he sometimes practices with when in Sheffield, and who he respects. It’s not an easy match for either of them, but hopefully it will be a good one. Ronnie needs to get match sharper. He wants to do well in Yushan. Should Ronnie win, he could well face his Nemesis, Elliot Slessor. Elliot faces Mei Xiwen in the last 32. Mei is a capable player but never came across as “top player” material. This season though he has so far won five of the eight matches he played, beating Li Hang, Yan Bingtao and Gary Wilson in the most recent ones. Also he faced another Chinese player in six out of nine of his past matches this season (there was one walk over). Maybe it’s seeding going against odds again, but it’s strange…