The 2019 English Open – Day 6 – SF

Today’s final will be competed between Mark Selby and David Gilbert.

Here are the reports by Worldsnooker about how we got there:

Afternoon session:

Mark Selby came from 5-3 down to beat Mark Allen 6-5 in a five-hour battle to reach the final of the 19.com English Open in Crawley.

In an exciting finish, Allen missed opportunities to win as Selby took the last three frames to reach the final of a Home Nations event for the first time since the series was launched in 2016.

He will meet David Gilbert or Tom Ford over 17 frames for the £70,000 first prize on Sunday. The champion will go to next month’s 19.com Northern Ireland Open in Belfast a quarter of the way to landing the £1 million bonus on offer for winning all four events in the series.

Selby will be playing in his 25th ranking final and aiming for his 16th title, which would bring him level with Neil Robertson. He is aiming to win his first title since the 2018 China Championship and first on UK soil since he landed his captured his third World Championship crown in 2017.

Breaks of 82 and 93 helped Leicester’s Selby take a 3-1 lead, then Allen hit back after the interval, winning frame five and making a 96 for 3-3. Frame seven lasted  67 minutes and came down to a battle on the colours, Allen winning it to go ahead. The eighth was also scrappy and once again Antrim’s Allen came out on top to go 5-3 up.

In the ninth, Allen was on 62 and just two pots away from victory when his attempt to double a red to a centre pocket narrowly missed. It came down to the pink and black, Selby getting the better of a safety battle and potting both balls to keep his hopes alive. And he added frame ten with a run of 57.

World number five Selby had first chance in the decider, making  29 before missing a tricky blue. Allen replied with 24 then failed to convert a tough long red to a baulk corner. That proved his last shot as Selby added 64. Remarkably, the pair have met seven times in best-of-11 matches and all seven have finished 6-5.

“I had to dig in and show my resolve from 5-3,” said 36-year-old Selby. “Before that Mark was playing well, he looked confident and he was putting me in a lot of trouble. We always have close games and it was good to come out the winner this time. The double he went for at 5-3, I thought it was in from where I was sitting. I was lucky.

“Last season my safety was letting me down so it’s nice to get that side of my game back. I get on really well with both David Gilbert and Tom Ford so it will be great to play either of them in the final.”

I’m not sure why this report doesn’t mention that Mark Allen himself had come from 3-1 down to lead 5-3, at a time leaving his opponent potless for well over 40 minutes.

It was a bizarre mùatch TBH. One wouldn’t really guess looking at the scores but for very periods of play there was no fluency whatsoever. Both players gave their opponent a lot of penalty points, Mark Selby in particular was guilty of that.  It was a comedy of errors at times. Mark Allen should have killed the match and win 6-3. He failed to do so, and, when playing Mark Selby it’s often fatal and it proved to be.

Evening session:

David Gilbert moved within one win of his first ranking title by beating Tom Ford 6-3 in the semi-finals of the 19.com English Open.

Tamworth’s Gilbert will face Mark Selby over 17 frames on Sunday, with the winner to lift the Steve Davis Trophy and bank £70,000.

It will be Gilbert’s fourth ranking final and his first on UK soil. He has lost two finals in China, against John Higgins and Mark Williams, as well as one in Germany against Kyren Wilson. Once again this time he’ll be up against a formidable opponent, but having played to a high level throughout the week in Crawley, world number 12 Gilbert will be confident that this could be his turn to go home with the silverware.

Ford took the opening frame tonight with a break of 53 then Gilbert levelled with an 80. The next two frames came down to the colours, and Gilbert took both to lead 3-1.

Leicester’s Ford hit back after the interval with 102 and 74 to level at 3-3. But 38-year-old Gilbert regained the initiative with a superb 134 total clearance in frame seven, then runs of 65 and 52 put him 5-3 ahead.

Ford had two scoring chances early in the ninth but could only muster 12 points, and when he missed a red to a top corner, Gilbert stepped in with a run of 34 which took him close to the winning post. Ford battled for snookers but Gilbert potted green and brown to secure the result.

“I felt tired tonight, I haven’t had much sleep this week and it caught up with me tonight,” said Gilbert. “My body was a bit heavy, my arms didn’t quite feel the same and I wasn’t timing shots well. But that happens sometimes, I didn’t worry about it.

“At 3-3 Tom was looking stronger, I knew I had to step up and find my rhythm again, and I made a good break to go 4-3.

“I’m glad to be playing Mark in the final because he’s a good friend. He has helped me a lot over the last few years by letting me practise with him. I have learned a lot from him and I’m looking forward to sharing the dancefloor with him. He is a legend and I’m just trying to make my way through.”

The final starts at 1pm.

This was a much more fluent match than the afternoon one. Tom Ford looked very dangerous at the start, but appreared to lose confidence in frame two after making a couple of errors. He’s much better under pressure than he used to be but still looked vulnerable to it in yesterday’s semli-final.

Mark Selby has to be favourite to win today. He has the pedigree and the experience. But if David Gilbert can set himself in the mindset of just enjoying the occasion and doesn’t put too much pressure on himself, he certainly has his chance. I would be delighted for him.

Neither finalist has yet qualified for the 2019 Champion of  Champions, so Jimmy White will have to wait and hope that there is a repeat winner in Yushan.

Finally Ronnie again caused outrage on social media with this:

Now, seriously folks, this was just a bit of impish banter. Of course he doesn’t mean that they shouldn’t cound officially. He explains it himself: in his own mind, a 147 should be the “perfect break” and therefore not involve any recovery shots (nor  flukes I guess). He’s been very critical of his own 5’20” (actually now revised to 5’08”) 1997 break: more than once, he said that it was a “bad break”, because he was “out of position so many times”. That’s the OCD perfectionist mixed with the mischievious kid inside expressing themselves ot there 😉

Ronnie has been out of order a few times this week: he certainly was when he kicked the rest.  The way he expressef himself about playing lower ranked players after round one wasn’t very considerate although Mark Selby, speaking after beating Mei Xiwen also spoke about why playing an unknown quantity can be difficult. And he clearly hates the venue and has made no mystery of it. But frankly the above isn’t “serious” …

 

5 thoughts on “The 2019 English Open – Day 6 – SF

  1. The Allen-Selby match wasn’t as bad as people have said. I watched every ball from the table side, and it was exhausting yes. But there was some great safety, and some errors, which are bound to happen after prolonged safety battles – in fact, that’s part of the strategy. Selby did it very well, although he was very close to losing. He still isn’t scoring consistently, but this may return if somehow he can drag himself (and his opponent) through one more match. Winning is everything for Selby after his bad run.

    Gilbert isn’t playing his best either, but after two very close matches, yesterday was easier. That gives him a good chance today.

    • I’m not sure if it’s been changed in the official records, because, even if there is an error, if it isn’t noticed, and the next shot is played, or the frame is officially over, the error is condoned. But it has been acknowledged, even by WS that the actual break time was under what was recorded at the time.

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