Northern Ireland Open 2019 – Ronnie books his place in the SF

Ronnie beat Shaun Murphy by 5-1 yesterday evening and booked his place in the semi finals where he will play Joe Perry.

NI Open 2019 - ROS QF Scores

Despite a highest break of “only” 78, it was breathtaking snooker from Ronnie.

Here is the report by Worldsnooker (excerpt):

Five-time World Champion Ronnie O’Sullivan produced a sublime display to beat Shaun Murphy 5-1 and reach the semi-finals of the 19.com Northern Ireland Open in Belfast.

It’s a fifth consecutive win over 2005 Crucible king Murphy for O’Sullivan. He also now commands a 13-3 lead over the Magician in their head-to-head record.

This week comes as a big boost to O’Sullivan’s chances of qualifying for the Coral Series later on in the season. He’s currently ranked 83rd in the one-year list and requires to move up to 32nd position to gain a place in the World Grand Prix. He will now have his eyes on the £70,000 top prize on offer this week and the Alex Higgins Trophy.

Murphy, who won the China Championship earlier in the season, will turn his attentions to the upcoming UK Championship as he aims to add to his Triple Crown silverware collection.

The Rocket came flying out of the traps this evening. A run of 76 saw him take the opening frame to move 1-0 ahead. Murphy led in the second frame, but a crucial clearance of 42 allowed O’Sullivan to steal it on the black and double his advantage.

Further breaks of 52 and 78 helped him into a 4-0 lead at the mid-session.  When they returned Murphy got off the mark with a fine century run of 104. However, it proved to be nothing more than a consolation, with O’Sullivan stealing the sixth frame on the black to clinch a 5-1 victory.

O’Sullivan said: “I just went for everything and waited to see what happened really. If they went in great. If they didn’t then I would have expected Shaun to do some damage. It just was what it was.

“Sometimes if you are enjoying it then win or lose it doesn’t really matter. You have to look at the bigger picture. The more you can enjoy it the better. It is either a passion or a job and for me it is a passion.”

O’Sullivan will face Joe Perry in the last four.

Coverage:

NI Open 2019 – Day 5 evening session review with ES pundits

And some lovely pictures thanks to Tai Chengzhe

The other winners on the day were Judd Trump, John Higgins and Joe Perry.

Here is the report on Worldsnooker (excerpt):

O’Sullivan will face Joe Perry in the last four. The Gentleman booked his semi-final spot with a 5-3 win over Switzerland’s Alexander Ursenbacher.

World number 15 Perry had trailed 3-1, but battled back after the mid-session to turn the match on its head.

Perry said: “I’m confident in my own game. Whether it is good enough to beat Ronnie I don’t know. I’ve played Judd Trump three times this year and for me he is the best player in the game at the moment. I’ve beat him once, given him a game once and been annihilated once. They are the best players in the world. If they turn up and fire you will be watching. If not then you have a chance.”

John Higgins emerged victorious in an enthralling quarter-final clash with Mark Selby, winning 5-4 to reach the semi-finals and book a meeting with World Champion Judd Trump.

Four-time World Champion Higgins is now through to his second ranking semi-final of the season. His other came at the World Open where he also faced Trump, losing out 6-5.

19.com English Open champion Selby’s hopes of the £1 million bonus associated with winning all four Home Nations events in a single season have come to an end.

Higgins stormed to a 4-1 lead before Selby mounted a comeback charge. A century run of 109 made it 4-2. Selby then compiled a run of 62 on his way to taking the seventh frame, which included a shot which he deliberated over for six minutes and 13 seconds as the pressure mounted at the Waterfront Hall.

Further breaks of 62 and 52 saw Selby force a decider. However, Higgins composed himself and sealed victory with a sublime 110 break to close out the match.

World and defending champion Judd Trump came through in the opening match of the day with a 5-1 defeat of 2017 German Masters winner Anthony Hamilton.

The Ace in the Pack composed breaks of 106, 66, 73 and 105 on his way to a comfortable victory this afternoon.

Trump said: “I think since winning here last year I have gone on to win quite a few. It was a real turning point and a special atmosphere here last year. This is somewhere that I enjoy coming back to.”

I expected Anthony Hamilton to give Judd Trump a bit more resistance, but I had overlooked something rather important: Anthony had never played on that match table before; in fact he had not even played in the main arena before this match. This means that he had to compete against Judd under conditions that were very different to what he had known all week whilst his opponent had played on that table every day. I think that it would be only fair under such circumstances to allow the player to have five to ten minutes practice on the match table before the start of the match.

During the Higgins v Selby match, there was a strange incident. Mark Selby was leading by 66 with 67 on in frame 7. He pondered his next shot for 6′ 13″ … He could have attempted a pot along the top cushion, but it was very akward cueing over the black. Now John Higgins needed a black with every remaining red to win and there was no particular problem for Mark to play a safety, which he eventually did. This triggered harsh criticism from the commentators

Eurosport commentator Neal Foulds led the backlash against Mark Selby after he took six minutes and 13 seconds to play a shot during his Northern Ireland Open quarter-final defeat to John Higgins.

WHAT HAPPENED?

Mark Selby trailed John Higgins 4-2 in their Northern Ireland Open quarter-final when he suffered an almighty brain freeze in the seventh frame.

Selby returned to the table with a 66-0 lead when Higgins fluffed a shot, leaving a selection of simple safety shots available to the English Open champion.

Higgins needed to clear the table perfectly – five reds, five blacks plus the colours – to pinch the frame, but Selby decided to deliberate… and deliberate… and deliberate over his next shot.

What followed was one of the most bizarre passages of snooker as Selby cut a baffled figure, eyeing up various angles without committing, while the referee stood silently alongside him.

Six minutes and 13 seconds passed before a shot was finally taken – 53 seconds more than Ronnie O’Sullivan’s fastest 147 maximum in 1997 – as Selby’s hopeful red found the jaws of the top pocket and ricocheted away.

However, Selby soon returned to wrap up the frame as he steadied to threaten a comeback. Ultimately though, and perhaps justly, Higgins came through 5-4 to book a date with Judd Trump in the semi-finals.

‘IT’S OUTRAGEOUS’ – FOULDS BAFFLED

Eurosport commentator Neal Foulds couldn’t believe what he was watching.

At 3:20: “Mark has just tangled himself up in knots here for no reason. If he doesn’t fancy a pot, he’s got to play safe. That’s all there is to it. This is ridiculous in my opinion, it’s much too long over a situation where he’s not in any trouble whatsoever.”

At 4:40: “It’s unacceptably long. I’m a big fan of Mark, but this is just not on I’m afraid… it’s outrageous.”

At 5:45: “He’s just got to play a shot. It’s stupid. He’s taken root here. How many more times is he going to sit on the table, look at that red and not play it? If only he knew this is six minutes.”

‘MAYBE HIS MIND WENT TO MUSH’

Higgins was diplomatic about the situation in the Eurosport studio.

“I was just thinking it was going to be a long shot for me to get back into it [the frame],” he told Andy Goldstein and Jimmy White.

“He played the shot to nothing and put the white behind the red, which was probably the shot all along really. Listen, when you’re out there, that’s what can happen, your mind can go to mush and that’s maybe what happened to Mark.”

When asked about whether the referee should have intervened, he added:

There will be people back home in the qualifiers that are being warned by the referee after two or three minutes. They might now turn around and say, ‘why are we getting warned?’ when someone is taking six minutes.

 

Now, to be fair, Mark wasn’t looking his usual self in that match and I never was under the impression that it was some weird tactics. It’s just as if Mark’s brain froze and he couldn’t think clearly. Maybe the referee should have told him something, not necessarily a formal warning, to take him out of this bizarre state.

3 thoughts on “Northern Ireland Open 2019 – Ronnie books his place in the SF

  1. I don’t think Selby did it out of gamesmanship, I had the feeling that suddenly he just cannot make a decision and is paralyzed in his mind. I think they were a bit harsh on him, it’s not like he took too much time on every shot. In any case, it’d be interesting to ask him what happened.

    Ronnie played wonderful, exemplary snooker, it was great to watch.

  2. It can happen even to Selby to be hazy at the table. I think we shouldn’t too harsh with him. It was clearly not intentional, but the consequence of a particular state of mind.

    • Unfortunately it’s just the kind of notoriety Mark Selby does not need. Especially right now, when he’s still trying to build his way back to the top. Not a good sign.

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