Yesterday was the fourth day of the tournament, but the first to be televised by the BBC. It was also the start of the last 64 round and it saw two of the top 16 depart – Kyren Wilson and Barry Hawkins – whilst other like Mark Allen and Neil Robertson were given a scare.
Ronnie, the defending champion opened the proceedings in the afternoon, and he wasn’t troubled as he raced to a 6-0 victory over Tian Pengfei.
Here are the reports by Worldsnooker:
Marco Fu admitted he “hasn’t felt like the same player” since his eye surgery two years ago, but he looked back in form as he came from 4-1 down to beat Kyren Wilson 6-5 at the Betway UK Championship.
Hong Kong’s best ever player, Fu has won four ranking titles and was ranked fifth in the world in 2017. He was forced to take a break from the tour after the retinal surgery, and has since struggled for results, tumbling to 56th. Today’s win over ninth seed Wilson is his best of the season so far and his reward is a last-32 meeting with Li Hang.
Wilson knocked in breaks of 101, 62, 61 and 50 in building a 4-1 lead. Fu made 62 and 89 to claw back to 4-3. Frame eight came down to the final black and Fu potted it to a baulk corner, only for the cue ball to drop into the diagonally opposite pocket.
But Fu shrugged off that setback as he dominated frame nine then made a 73 for 5-5. Wilson potted the first red in the decider but missed a tricky black, and his opponent punished him with 74.
“It’s a huge win for me,” said 41-year-old Fu. “I have always had doubts since the eye surgery, I haven’t felt like the same player. Because my ranking has dropped I am always meeting top players in the second round of tournaments. I haven’t felt as if I can beat a top 16 player, when I used to be in the same group as them, and that hurts. My practice game has been good and I feel as if something special could be around the corner.”
Another Whitewash For Rocket
Ronnie O’Sullivan has made it into round three without conceding a frame; he followed up his 6-0 first round win over Ross Bulman by beating China’s Tian Pengfei by the same scoreline.
“I was trying to win as comfortably as I possibly can,” said the defending champion. “It’s not always going to work out like that and you have to assume that the competition will get stronger and just take one match at a time. You have to try and dominate the game as much as you can draw on experience.
“It’s great to be in York it’s a fantastic place this time of year. The tables are playing great and the further you go in the tournament the more enjoyable it gets.”
Stuart Bingham, a semi-finalist in this event three times, made three centuries in a 6-4 win over Martin Gould. Runs of 105, 91, 64, 106 and 122 helped Bingham book his third round place.
Matthew Stevens was hauled back from 5-2 to 5-5 but got the better of a Welsh derby with Ryan Day 6-5. Ian Burns came from 5-3 down to beat Michael Holt 6-5, winning the ninth frame with a run of 100, the tenth with a vital 56 clearance and the decider 79-0.
What Marco Fu did out there is truly amazing. Marco is a nice, gentle man, always calm and friendly, but he has an iron will to win, and to overcome any issues that might affect him. He never quits and yesterday he showed just how determined he is. Good luck Marco. Hats off!
Neil Robertson and Mark Selby both reached the third round of the Betway UK Championship, but only after being pushed hard by gritty opponents at the York Barbican on Saturday night.
Robertson, champion here in 2013 and 2015, beat Robbie Williams 6-4. The Australian led 3-1 at the interval with a top break of 101 but his opponent kept battling and had two chances in the tenth frame to make it 5-5, but amassed only 22 points and Robertson eventually won with a 63 clearance. He goes through to face Mark King.
“I was cruising at 3-1 but I allowed my focus to wander and never got it back,” said Robertson, who is 36th on the one-year ranking list so needs positive results to ensure his place in the Coral series events in the new year. “That’s not a good spot to be in because I made a lot if mistakes. It was a sloppy performance.
“I’ll get some practice tomorrow, hopefully get some fluency back and then play better as the tournament progresses. My game is in fantastic shape, but in the early rounds you don’t always see the best of the top players.”
Selby, champion in 2012 and 2016, saw off Liam Highfield 6-3. Stoke’s Highfield had a clear chance to go 2-0 up but missed the final pink off its spot. Selby then went 4-1 up with a top run of 129.
A run of 91 saw Highfield pull one back and he made a 46 clearance in the next for 4-3. He had chances in frame eight but couldn’t take them, allowing Selby to go 5-3 up. And the three-time World Champion sealed victory in the ninth with a break of 80.
“I felt really good out there, it was just a couple of issues with my concentration,” said Selby, who now meets Ricky Walden or Martin O’Donnell.
“Liam’s a dangerous opponent and I think he’s a lot better than his ranking suggests. I think the difference with the top-ranked players is that they take their chances more often than not. He looked like making a fantastic clearance in the second frame, then missed the pink off the spot. That was a key turning point.”
Hit The Road Jak
Mark Allen narrowly avoided a shock defeat against Jak Jones, winning 6-5. Seventh seed Allen made a 141 in building a 5-1 lead, before Jones battled back to 5-5 with a top run of 104.
Welshman Jones had first chance in the decider and made 25. Allen responded with 64, and although his opponent got the two snookers he needed on the blue, the Northern Irishman potted blue and pink to seal the result.
Eden Project Still In Progress
Eden Sharav, who scored the shock of the first round by knocking out Shaun Murphy, kept his momentum going in a 6-2 defeat of Daniel Wells. The Israeli knocked in breaks of 52, 78, 54, 94 and 69.
Alan McManus came from 4-1 down to beat Barry Hawkins 6-4 with a top run of 81 while Anthony Hamilton made a 104 in a 6-3 defeat of James Cahill.
China’s Zhao Xintong had a top break of 114 as he beat Thailand’s Thepchaiya Un-Nooh 6-4 in a match which had an average frame time of just 11 minutes.
Tha tables had been recovered on Friday (said Jimmy White in ES studio) and apparently played very differently from how they had in the first round, espcially the two television tables. We saw almost all top players struggle (to a variable extend) on them yesterday. Neil Roberston, Mark Selby certainly were nowhere near their best out there.
Zhao Xintong v Thepchaiya Un-Nooh was certainly the match that should have been televised if snooker aims to be an “entertainment business” as Barry Hearn claims. Not only were they not on television, they were not even in the main arena!
And whilst we are about entertainment … in the buid-up of his match Neil was interviewed by the ES team, and here is an excerpt about Barry Hawkins 147 scheme.
So, let’s get this straight, Barry stated that Ronnie taking the pink in his first round match was shameful, but has no shame to admit that his 1000000 bonus to be shared if there are 20 maximum breaks or more is a con, as it’s impossible to have so many in one season. Last season there were 13, which, I believe, is the record in a single season. We are now nearly at half of this season and there were only 4 … It may have been 5 if Ronnie had attempted it last week, but as he said the blue was safe and blue to pink was always going to be difficult. He actually got the blue but couldn’t get a good position on the pink and missed it. Anyway, another 15 in the coming 5 months looks totally unrealistic.