Yesterday saw the conclusion of the 2019 UK Championship first round, the last 128, in York. Both the defending Champion and the World Champion were in action.
Here are the reports by Worldsnooker:
World number 121 Eden Sharav scored the biggest shock of the Betway UK Championship so far as he beat Shaun Murphy 6-4 in the opening round.
It’s the second year in a row that former UK Champion Murphy has crashed out in the pre-televised stage in York; in 2018 he lost to Chen Feilong, another player ranked outside the world’s top 100.
Sharav, who lives in Scotland but is Israeli by birth, goes through to the last 64 to face Daniel Wells.
Murphy led 3-1 at the interval with top breaks of 82 and 88, but Sharav fought back to take the next three frames with runs of 54, 49 and 70. The next two were shared to leave Sharav 5-4 ahead.
Frame ten lasted 40 minutes and came down to the colours. Murphy fluked the pink but then missed a tricky black to a centre pocket. Sharav was left with a tough long black, the cue ball close to the baulk cushion, but slotted it home and punched the air in delight.
“It’s the best win of my career,” said 27-year-old Sharav, who had lost all six of his previous matches this season. “I’ve had no confidence this season but I kept fighting today at 3-1 down. I have been practising up to nine hours a day recently and hopefully I can push on from this.”
Murphy said: “I’m very disappointed, I didn’t see that coming at all because I have prepared well for this tournament and I’ve been having a really good season. I have to give credit to Eden because he played some fabulous stuff.”
Trump’s Got Jungle Fever
Judd Trump started his campaign with a 6-0 whitewash of Amie Amiri – then said he’d be willing to miss the tournament next year if he was invited to appear on TV show I’m a Celebrity…Get Me Out of Here!
Trump breezed through the opening round in York in just 79 minutes, beating African champion Amiri with a top break of 125. Having already won the Masters and World Championship in 2019, he is aiming to become the first player to capture all three Triple Crown titles in the same year since Stephen Hendry in 1996.
“It was an amazing crowd for the first round. This is one of the best venues and it was an excellent atmosphere. This is one of the big ones where I always get excited.
“This is all new to Amine and he needs some experience. It’s always good to see players from new countries as it shows the game is expanding. He has done amazingly well to get this far and hopefully we’ll see him improve.”
Trump is a fan of the ITV show ‘Celeb’ and would relish a trip to the jungle. “I’d go in but I’m scared of everything in there!” said the Bristolian. “I’d love to give it a try but I don’t know how long I’d last. I’m quite a fussy eater and I don’t like bugs. I’d have to be one of those who gets a doctor’s note for every trial. I’d sit on the bed and sleep all day. I’d love to give something like that a go next year.”
Asked whether he’d be willing to miss this tournament he replied. “Yes, it would be good to get snooker out there. To have a current player on the show and do well would boost snooker.”
Jack-Pot Needs Time To Adjust
Jack Lisowski beat David Lilley 6-2 with a top break of 68 and revealed he is playing with a new cue. “I changed it about two weeks ago,” said Lisowski. “I’m trying to get used to it but it might take six months.”
Alan McManus top scored with 112 and 107 in a 6-1 defeat of Elliot Slessor, while Anthony Hamilton made a 131 in a 6-2 win over Sam Baird.
Riga Masters champion Yan Bingtao looked in fine form in a 6-1 victory over Igor Figueiredo, firing runs of 111, 121, 89 and 127.
Ronnie O’Sullivan started his bid to win a third consecutive Betway UK Championship by beating Ross Bulman 6-0, then said that Judd Trump is currently snooker’s man to beat.
Seven-time UK Champion O’Sullivan took just 66 minutes – with an average shot time of 13.8 seconds – to book his place in the last 64, where he will face Tian Pengfei on Saturday.
In frame three O’Sullivan potted 14 reds with blacks before playing for position on the pink on the last red, passing up the chance of a possible 147. He missed the final pink, finishing on 133. He also fired runs of 88, 90, 66 and 65.
In his post match press conference, the Rocket was asked about Judd Trump, who has won seven tournaments over the past year.
“Judd is ahead of the pack, World Champion, world number one and the man to stop,” said O’Sullivan. “He’s a fantastic player and a great talent. The true test is doing it over ten or 15 years. Tiger Woods is a great. Is Rory McIlroy? Not yet. Potentially he probably will be and it’s great to sit and watch it unfold.”
He was also asked about a comment from Trump that some of O’Sullivan’s fans are “hooligans.”
“I can’t comment on that because I don’t know all the fans who follow me,” said O’Sullivan. “Snooker’s a working class sport, people love to see Jimmy White, Alex Higgins, they follow those type of players. I’m sure at football or golf or other sporting events, people get a bit excited.”
If he had made a 147 tonight, O’Sullivan would have been in line for a share of the £15,000 high break prize claimed yesterday by Barry Hawkins. But he added: “The blue was safe so I didn’t fancy making a maximum, and to get on the pink from the last red was a lot easier. Barry could do with the £15,000 more than me. He is super excited to be able to spend money on some Christmas presents.”
Pistol Shows Grit To Beat White
Last year’s runner-up Mark Allen came from 3-2 down to beat veteran Jimmy White, the oldest player in the field at 57, by a 6-3 scoreline. The turning point came in frame six when Allen cleared from yellow to pink to level at 3-3. Breaks of 64, 129 and 56 gave him the last three frames.
“I probably showed Jimmy too much respect in the early stages,” said Antrim’s Allen. “I went for my shots from 2-2 and played a lot better. I love coming here, it’s a great venue and a lot of history attached to the tournament. I have been under the weather for the last few days and my eyes are sore. It was determination and grit which got me through tonight. With a couple of days rest I’ll be fine.”
Thepchaiya Un-Nooh came from 5-2 down to beat Jamie O’Neill 6-5, winning the last four frames with top breaks of 62 and 71. Joe Perry beat Simon Lichtenberg 6-5 in a match which was pulled off earlier today at 5-5. When they returned, Perry made breaks of 45 and 30 to take the decider. That keeps him ahead of his immediate rivals in the Race to the Masters.
Life came in the way of snooker in the morning …
In the afternoon, I watched Judd Trump beat Amine Amiri, with a 125, but no other 50+ break. Judd missed a few, but Amine was not able to take his chances. That said, this is the kind of match that does nobody any favour. Amine Amiri got his two years tour card by winning the African games but is probably nowhere the level he would need to sucessfully compete on the main tour right now. Back home he does have neither the kind of opposition nor the opportunities to play in high quality amateur tournaments that would allow him to reach that required level. Judd Trump on the other hand may have found it difficult to sustain full concentration as he clearly wasn’t going to be challenged. We have seen the same sort of match in early rounds in the PTCs in the past.
I then turned to Shaun Murphy v Eden Sharav, which was a strange one. Eden tried his heart out, and it was very obvious that he was feeling it towards the end. He did extremely well to keep it together eventually.
Shaun Murphy and David Gilbert are the only top 16 players to go out in round one.
Regarding Joe Perry’s “escape” from disaster, I believe that experience played a massive role, especially when the match got pulled off. Simon has probably never played a multi session match other than at the World Championship qualifiers last season, where he was beaten 10-1 … by Joe Perry. Having lead 5-3, being pegged back 5-5 and then having to mull over it for a few hours was always going to be extremely difficult and so it proved.
Other than that, there was a good win for Michael White. Is he about to turn the corner? I hope so. I was also very pleased for David Grace. Nothing at all against Tom Ford; I just happen to like David a lot, he’s a gentle soul and an artist …