Northern Ireland Open 2019 – Last 128

No less than four top 16 players went out in the first round of the 2019 Northern Ireland Open: Neil Robertson, David Gilbert, Jack Lisowski and Ding Junhui. Of course, Mark Williams did not enter, so that leaves us with only 11 members of the top 16 after just one round. To this, you have to add the unexpected demise of a good few top 32 members: most notably Ryan Day, Anthony McGill, Noppon Saengkham, Xiao Guodong, Lyu Haotian, Tom Ford and Gary Wilson … plus Hossein Vafaei who is n°33. That’s a lot of “upsets”.

Neil Robertson might have suffered from a kind of “hangover” effect after the heights of last week-end, but there is nothing to “explain” the other ones, other than the fact that it’s best of seven and top players are under pressure because they are expected to win. Ding’s defeat is particularly worrying. He’s spiralling down at an alarming speed. He was playing David Lilley, a former WSS player and a rookie on the tour.

Other matches were mighty close. Judd Trump lead 3-0, with three centuries, before being pegged back to 3-3 by James Cahill. Cahill played well, but he capitalised on Judd’s mistakes whose long potting went missing for a while. Stuart Bingham made a 147 – his sixth – in the first frame of his match but was still taken to a decider by the much improved Lu Ning. Barry Hawkins also had to play a deciding frame to overcome Eden Sharav.

This is Bingham sixth maximum:

Here are the reports by Worldsnooker:

Day 1 – Monday, November 11, 2019

Mark Selby came through a hard fought encounter with China’s Xu Si 4-2 to book his place in the second round of the Northern Ireland Open in Belfast.

Selby remains in the hunt to cash in on the £1 million bonus on offer for any player who wins all four Home Nations events in a single season. The Jester from Leicester won the first tournament of this year’s series at the English Open.

His victory at the Crawley event saw him earn his first piece of silverware in over a year. Selby capped the week off with a stunning display in the final, missing only seven balls on his way to a crushing 9-1 defeat of David Gilbert.

This afternoon Selby looked to be in danger of a surprise exit when world number 97 Xu spurned a golden opportunity to move 3-1 ahead. He missed a black to the top right corner allowing Selby to draw level at 2-2.

Three-time World Champion Selby ruthlessly punished that error, making breaks of 64 and 73 to emerge a 4-2 victor.

Selby said: “The win in Crawley was really important. Especially for my mindset more than anything else. Even when he had the black to go 3-1 up, I still fancied myself to win the match. I am definitely in a better mindset so I have come here very confident.”

David Lilley secured his first victory as a professional with a shock 4-2 win over Chinese number one Ding Junhui.

Former World Amateur finalist Lilley is making his debut season on the World Snooker Tour after coming through Q School earlier this year. He fired in breaks of 96, 82, 84 and 71 on his way to victory this afternoon.

Stephen Maguire recorded a 4-0 win over Declan Lavery despite currently suffering from a broken ankle.

The Scot picked up the injury while out in China at the recent World Open. He was forced to wear a protective boot for his 4-0 first round loss at the Champion of Champions last week.

Maguire had been given dispensation to play in trainers today due to the injury and produced breaks of 76 and 50 on his way to the whitewash win.

Maguire said: “I tried to play last week with the space boot on. It just wasn’t possible. My wife and family aren’t happy that I am playing without it because I might do further damage to it. The only way I can play is to use these trainers and give myself half a chance.”

Northern Ireland’s Jordan Brown delighted the home crowd with a fine 4-2 win over Thai legend James Wattana. While Ken Doherty defeated Michael Georgiou 4-2.

2005 World Champion Shaun Murphy whitewashed Fraser Patrick 4-0 and 30-time ranking event winner John Higgins emerged a 4-2 victor against Chang Bingyu.

What Mark Selby says there about confidence and mindset is very true, and very important. I think that Ronnie is a bit in the situation now where Mark was before the English Open, having suffered a few unexpected defeats and struggling for consistency. I’m sure he cares much more than he is willing to admit. The brazen attitude is just an attempt to lower the expectations on himself, and hence the pressure.

Day 2 – Tuesday, November 12, 2019

Defending champion Judd Trump negotiated a stern first round test against James Cahill to emerge a 4-3 victor at the Northern Ireland Open in Belfast

The Ace in the Pack lifted the title here a year, beating Ronnie O’Sullivan 9-7 in a thrilling final. That ended a run of 13 months without a ranking silverware and marked the beginning of a golden season for Trump, who picked up maiden Masters and World Championship titles.

Trump has solidified his position at the summit of the sport this season by becoming world number one after victories at the International Championship and World Open. He comes into this week off the back of narrowly losing a thrilling Champion of Champions final 10-9 to Neil Robertson on Sunday.

30-year-old Trump started off this afternoon’s match in blistering fashion. He fired in consecutive century breaks of 106, 122 and 111 to charge into a 3-0 lead.

From there Cahill, nicknamed the Giant Killer after defeating Ronnie O’Sullivan at this year’s World Championship while playing as an amateur, mounted a comeback charge.

The Blackpool potter stole the fourth frame on the black to keep his hopes alive. Cahill then made it 3-2, before breaks of 56 and 55 helped him to force a decider. Trump eventually edged his way over the line with a run of 75 to wrap up the 4-3 victory.

“I always felt in control and I always felt like I could score heavily throughout the whole game,” said Bristol’s Trump. “I think he is the sort of person that needs to be on the big stage to play his best and once again he proved it. He came back well.”

36-time ranking event winner Ronnie O’Sullivan booked his place in the second round with a hard fought 4-2 win over world number 80 Oliver Lines.

O’Sullivan claimed a tightly contested 35-minute tactical frame to take a 1-0 lead. However, Lines restored parity and then moved to the front by taking the third frame on the black to lead 2-1.

The Rocket secured three frames on the bounce, including a break of 87, to turn the match on its head and emerge a 4-2 victor.

O’Sullivan said: “I’d much rather just hammer people to be honest. 10-1 or 9-0, I love all of that. I don’t enjoy having to battle. Every match this year feels like it has been a deciding frame. I’m just happy to still be in the Northern Ireland Open, it is a great tournament and I still want to be in it.”

Northern Ireland’s number one Mark Allen got his campaign off to a solid start after a 4-2 win over Sam Craigie.

2018 Masters winner Allen, who exited in the first and second rounds in the last two years, has admitted to suffering from nerves in front of his home fans in the past.

However, he secured victory today with contributions of 74 and 77. After his match he admitted to adopting a different approach to the event to try and negate any nerves.

Allen said: “I tried not to get too involved with the crowd today. I’ve had a completely different approach to the tournament this year. I’ve tried to stay away from all of the tickets and phone calls. I have also done as few interviews as possible. I am just trying to treat it like any other tournament. I am even staying in a hotel and I only live 20 minutes away.”

“It would be a dream to win. This event was added to the calendar three years ago and it is definitely on my radar. I am a very proud Northern Ireland supporter and I want to do it for the fans. First and foremost I need to do it for myself though and I haven’t been doing that in previous years.”

Stuart Bingham fired in the sixth 147 of his career on the way to a dramatic 4-3 defeat of China’s Lu Ning. The 2015 World Champion had led 3-0, but was pegged back to a deciding frame which he eventually claimed on the pink.

You can read more about Ronnie’s win here (with some images and footages)

5 thoughts on “Northern Ireland Open 2019 – Last 128

  1. I’ve long wondered why Ronnie hasn’t been able to figure out a decent break-off shot. It seems like such a fixable and solvable problem. Notwithstanding this humorous shot (, I thought he started to get the hang of this break-off shot and that it was starting to become effective for him, but he seems to have given up on it.

    As to his comments about wanting to bring a few reds into play on the break-off in order to speed up the frames, I’m sure there’s truth to that. As Monique mentioned, though, the better other players get at long-potting, the worse Ronnie’s strategy works against him. I don’t see why he can’t find a break-off shot that doesn’t consistently leave pottable reds…

  2. In the meanwhile Ronnie is playing much more tournaments we would have expected after his statements at the start of the season. Obviously I‘m delighted to see him playing almost every tournament. Hopefully he will play even all the three triple Crown events. Maybe he realised that he needs more game practice to reach a good form.

  3. My prediction is that Ronnie will be in the studio at 2pm criticising the authorities for allowing children on the tour before they are ready.

  4. As usual there were a few unexpected results with the best-of-7, and the crowded schedule affecting different players in different ways. Bingham and Selby were lucky to win after their opponents missed easy balls at crucial times. Higgins was always in control, but Chang is clearly already a dangerous opponent.

    I’m also a little bit distracted by the UK Championship draw, which follows a 1-128 seeding pattern. It’s already possible to predict some of the matches (I’m assuming Mark Williams is still inactive).

    Perhaps the nicest thing about these Home Nations tournaments is when a new player wins a match for the first time. Dadid Lilley played extremely well – just what Ding didn’t need. The youngest player on tour, Lei Peifan, won his first match and gets ‘rewarded’ with a 2nd round clash with Ronnie.

    Don’t be worried Monique, for Ronnie to lose this match would be biggest upset in the history of sport!

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