Nothern Ireland Open 2019 – into the QFs

We are at the QF stage in Belfast, just two tables, and best of 9.

Here are the reports by Worldsnooker on what happened in the last two days.

Wednesday 13 November 2019

Mark Allen booked his place in the third round of the Northern Ireland Open with a 4-0 win over Jamie O’Neill in Belfast.

Northern Ireland’s number one Allen has strongly contended for silverware in recent weeks, but fallen narrowly short. He was pipped 6-5 by Mark Selby in a thrilling semi-final at the English Open and lost out 6-4 against Judd Trump in the semis of last week’s Champion of Champions.

Five-time ranking event winner Allen has admitted to suffering from nerves in front of his home crowd, having lost out in the first and second rounds in the last two years. He will be hoping for better this week as he continues to push for a maiden Northern Ireland Open title.

This evening Allen composed breaks of 53, 71, 64 and 63 on his way to a quickfire victory in just 54 minutes. Allen now faces Scott Donaldson tomorrow afternoon, with the winner progressing to a last 16 tie in the evening.

“That’s probably the best I have played in Belfast so far,” said 2018 Masters champion Allen. “There is a long way to go. Tomorrow is the big day because we have two matches. You feel like you are part of a big event if you get through to Friday and the one table setup. I feel the pressure every match, more so than every other tournament, but I am starting to handle it better.”

Ronnie O’Sullivan came through an entertaining encounter with Chinese 16-year-old Lei Peifan, winning 4-2.

The Rocket claimed silverware earlier this season at the invitational Shanghai Masters, which he won for a third consecutive year. However, he needs deep runs in ranking events if he is to qualify for next year’s Coral Series, as he currently sits in 83rd position on the one-year list. Only the top 32 will qualify for February’s World Grand Prix.

Tour rookie Lei made an impressive start to this evening’s encounter. He compiled a run of 87 to take the opener. O’Sullivan responded with a break of 84 to make it 1-1.

O’Sullivan then fired in a century run of 101. However, Lei, who recorded his first victory on tour in the opening round against Louis Heathcote, refused to back down. He made his first professional century to level at 2-2 with a break of 100.

36-time ranking event winner O’Sullivan then charged for the line, making breaks of 95 and 54 to round off the win. He averaged just 13.94 seconds per shot over the course of the match.

“He’s a good player and he pots a lot of good balls,” said O’Sullivan. “I’ve got a son and a daughter older than him. I don’t want to keep playing people like him, he is terrifying.”

Defending and World Champion Judd Trump produced a fine display to sweep aside Zhang Anda 4-1.

The Ace in the Pack composed breaks of 64, 125, 76 and 90 on his way to the routine victory.

Shaun Murphy booked his place the third round with a 4-1 win over Luo Honghao, while Stuart Bingham knocked out Northern Ireland’s Jordan Brown by a 4-1 scoreline. John Higgins was another 4-1 winner, seeing off Poland’s Kacper Filipiak.

Thursday 14 November 2019

Switzerland’s Alexander Ursenbacher sprung a shock to reach the quarter-finals of the Northern Ireland Open, beating home favourite Mark Allen 4-3 in Belfast.

World number 102 Ursenbacher dropped off the tour at the end of last season. However, the former English Open semi-finalist narrowly regained his place on the circuit through Q School, by earning a victory over Peter Lines in the final round of event three.

Northern Irish number one Allen will have to wait another year for his maiden Belfast title. The five-time ranking event winner will now turn his attentions to the upcoming UK Championship in York, where he was runner-up to Ronnie O’Sullivan last year.

This evening, breaks of 62 and 64 saw Ursenbacher move 2-0 up and silence a passionate home crowd in the early stages.

However, 2018 Masters champion Allen got himself off the mark with a century run of 101. He then clinched a tense fourth frame to restore parity at 2-2 and delight his fans at the Waterfront Hall.

A steely contribution of 72 allowed Ursenbacher to move one from victory at 3-2, before Allen forced a decider with a stunning run of 103.

It was Ursenbacher who took his chance, making 68 to book a quarter-final meeting with Joe Perry, who beat Robbie Williams 4-1 to secure his last eight spot.

“It was amazing, I knew the crowd was going to be on his side. If I got involved with the emotions it would have been tough. I just tried to stay focused,” said Ursenbacher. “I know what I have done wrong in the past. So it wasn’t really surprising to me that I dropped off the tour. That is what you deserve if you don’t put the hard work in. I don’t want to play Q School again and I will do everything in my power to prevent that.”

Defending and World Champion Judd Trump booked his quarter-final place with a 4-0 defeat of former Northern Ireland Open finalist Yan Bingtao.

World number one Trump looks to be in ominous form, having also whitewashed Si Jiahui 4-0 in his last 32 match earlier today.

The Ace in the Pack composed breaks of 62, 56 and 70 on his way to this evening’s victory. He’ll face Anthony Hamilton in the last eight after the Sheriff of Pottingham came through a hard fought battle with Kyren Wilson 4-3.

Trump said: “This is the bit where you get excited. This is like a proper tournament. Looking back at the atmosphere last year it was amazing. It’s down to one table and there are a lot of good players still in. The Home Nations doesn’t always bring that. Sometimes a lot of big players go out early. This is a tournament which brings the best out of people with it being the Alex Higgins Trophy, I think everyone wants to win it.”

Ronnie O’Sullivan progressed to the quarter-finals 4-1 win over China’s Yuan Sijun.

The Rocket fired in breaks of 127, 78 and 57 on his way to victory and will now face a mouth watering last eight clash with Shaun Murphy tomorrow. The Magician booked his passage with a 4-2 defeat of world number 11 Barry Hawkins.

Afterwards O’Sullivan said that he plans to continue to play with an aggressive mindset over the weekend.

O’Sullivan said: “I enjoy it. I wish I’d have done this 20 years ago and I’d probably have enjoyed it more. Just go for your shots and if they go in, they go in. When they stop, it is time to turn it in. I was watching Selby on the other table. I love Mark and he is a great player. But I have been watching his games. They are hard games and scrappy. I couldn’t play like that.”

Selby overcame Ken Doherty 4-1 to set up a quarter-final meeting with John Higgins, who defeated fellow Glaswegian Stephen Maguire 4-3.

For some reason there was no treporting on the last 32 round.

You can read more about Ronnie’s last 64 win here, and about his last 32 and last 16 wins here. 

So this is our QF line-up::

Judd Trump v Anthony Hamilton

It’s hard to think about a starker clash of styles. I believe that, in this match, a lot will depend on who is able to dictate the pace. Judd is of course be favourite, however if Anthony is capable to impose his rhythm on the match, we could well have a surprise. Judd’s patience would be tested to a level he rarely experiences. Anthony is an excellent brealbuilder. If Judd can’t maintain his discipline, pushes the boat out and gives his opponent openings … anything can happen.

Mark Selby v John Higgins

Three times World champion v four time World champion. Both fine tacticians. Both improving on last season. I only expect one thing here: a decider. As to who is favourite, I will just sit on the fence.

Joe Perry v Alexander Ursenbacher

Now, this is certainly a match not many would have expected at this stage. Joe is – has always been – a very solid player. He has an extra motivation: he’s on the verge of the top 16, with a place in the Masters to be gained. It’s certainly something to fight for, but it’s also pressure in its own right.  Alex is hard to predict. For most of the time, he’s not doing much, then, now and again, he has a patch where he looks like top 16 material. He’s been that way this week so far. He will not be the favourite in this match and that in itself may give him a freedom that makes him even more dangerous. This match is probably the most interesting of the round and very hard to predict.

Ronnie v Shaun Murphy

Shaun has been excellent so far this season, in total contrast with last season terrible form. He’s aggressive and plays an open game. Ronnie has been up and down so far this season but he’s been fast improving through this week. He too plays an open aggressive game. Don’t expect too many safeties today. From what we saw earlier in the season, I have to make Shaun favourite, but only 60//40 …



One thought on “Nothern Ireland Open 2019 – into the QFs

  1. It’s easy to see why Ronnie would be feeling a lack of motivation this season. He won a career’s worth of events over the past 2 seasons, and there’s less for him to strive for now that he reached 1,000 centuries, 7 UKs, 7 Masters, and 19 Triple Crowns. He probably figures the 37th ranking title win will inevitably happen at some point if he keeps playing for the next several years, and he also probably figures he’ll never reach 7 World titles no matter what.

    So there isn’t nearly as much for Ronnie to play for now as there was in recent seasons…

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