York Barbican – Day 5 at the 2019 UK Championship

The last 64 round at the 2019 UK Championship concluded yesterday, with the World n°3, Mark Williams the biggest casualty.

Watching Mark play yesterday, it was hard to believe that this man was World Champion only a year and a half ago, and made it to the final of a big ranking event at the start of this season. He was simply awful. It was embarrassing. His opponent, Michael White, played better than he had for a very long time, but his lack of confidence and anxiety were plain for all to see when it came to the latter stages of the match. Against a ruthless top player he would have been there for the taking. But Michael won rather comfortabbly eventually, and hopefully, this is the start of a return to form for the very gifted young Welsh. Snooker needs young talents to succeed. Michael appeared psychologically fragile and I hope that he gets the support he needs to finally play to his full potential. As for Mark, it’s always sad to see a great player decline but it seems that it’s a conscious choice from Mark to let his career go slowly after achieving something in 2018 he had never thought he would: a maginificent third World title.

Here are the reports by Worldsnooker:

Afternoon session

Judd Trump paid tribute to his parents after breezing into the last 32 of the Betway UK Championship with a 6-1 victory over Mei Xiwen.

Trump has been snooker’s dominant force over the past 13 months, winning seven tournaments including the Masters and World Championship. Victory in York next Sunday would make him the first player to hold all three Triple Crown trophies since Mark Williams in 2003.

The 30-year-old from Bristol was watched today by dad Steve, a lorry driver, and mum Georgina – both of whom have helped him throughout his junior and professional career. His humble background helps him put his recent success into perspective.

“I just want to go out there and be honest because my family brought me up to appreciate everything,” said the world number one. “I try my absolute best for my family. They are all massive snooker fans so to make my dad or mum proud is what I try to do.”

He wasted little energy against today’s opponent as breaks of 68, 86 and 105 helped him build a 4-0 lead. China’s Mei pulled one back with a 127 before Trump took the last two frames with runs of 51 and 93.

Trump added: “It’s amazing to give myself the chance to win all three Triple Crowns in the same year, it may never happen again. Ronnie (O’Sullivan) has never done it so it shows how tough it is. At these big BBC events you have to be playing at your absolute best, you always get tough matches from the start.

“Records matter for everyone and you saw that with Ronnie’s reaction to winning the UK last year – I don’t think I’ve ever seen someone celebrate like that. It means more to him than the other players but he doesn’t like to let that on.”

Trump will now meet 54-year-old Nigel Bond, who edged out Louis Heathcote 6-5 in a match which came down to the last few balls. Bond was hauled back from 5-2 to 5-5 but eventually took the decider by potting blue and pink.

Carter And Ding In Masters Face-Off

Ali Carter will play Ding Junhui in the third round in what will be a crucial match in the Race to the Masters. The winner will be well placed to finish the tournament among the world’s top 16 and earn a place at Alexandra Palace next month, while the loser may need to rely on other results.

Carter saw off Robert Milkins 6-2 with a top break of 139. “The matches are all so big here, this tournament has got a very special feel about it like no other,” said Carter. “We love the BBC events and that puts the added pressure on as well.

“I’ve got pedigree and on my day I can beat anyone. I’ve got a few tournaments under my belt so It’s about time I lifted a big one.

“Ding is a national hero in China so financially he’s not under pressure like some of us are. He’s probably enjoyed a bit of time out since becoming a father so his results were bound to suffer. He’s still class player.”

Ding, who hasn’t won a ranking title for over two years,  top scored with 100 in a 6-2 defeat of Michael Georgiou.

Jack Lisowski top scored with 86 in a 6-2 win over Peter Ebdon while Riga Masters champion Yan Bingtao made 135 and 106 in a 6-2 defeat of Stuart Carrington.

Evening session

Michael White had won just one match this season before the Betway UK Championship, but he’s now into the last 32 having beaten Mark Williams 6-2.

White, nicknamed Lightning, was considered the hottest young prospect in the sport when he won the Shoot Out and Indian Open in 2015, and he also landed the Paul Hunter Classic in 2017. Since then he has suffered a brutal loss of confidence and form, dropping to 62nd in the world.

The 28-year-old had lost six of his seven matches this season before heading to York, but after beating Fergal O’Brien in the first round, he knocked out two-time UK Champion Williams in a Welsh derby. Breaks of 65, 75, 52, 81 and 64 helped White set up a third round match with Mark Davis.

“It was a brilliant performance. I’m excited, chuffed, and relieved,” said White. “I’m getting back to where I want to be. The first round was a bigger match for me in a way because of all the early exits I’ve had. I’ve slipped down the rankings and I need the points now.

“I’ve doubted myself and wondered whether the good days are behind me. When you do poorly in tournaments you start to worry about that. I can’t remember the last time I got to a third round – that’s how bad it’s been. Hopefully it’s onwards and upwards from here.  I can enjoy it a bit more, I love playing in the main arena and it was really good fun tonight.”

Wilson Joins Small Group With Century Barrage

Gary Wilson became the fourth player to make four consecutive century breaks in a professional match as he beat Chris Wakelin 6-4. Only John Higgins, Shaun Murphy and Neil Robertson have previously achieved that feat. Crucible semi-finalist Wilson trailed 4-0 but hit back with 67, 97, 134, 114, 100 and 124 to win six frames in a row.

Brave Liang Beats Grace

Just a few days after the death of his mother, Liang Wenbo showed remarkable courage to not only compete in the tournament but to beat David Grace 6-3. His mother died on Tuesday at the age of 56. Liang flew to China for the funeral and then returned to York in time for the match against Grace, in which he made breaks of 64, 88, 61 and 90.

Higgins Closes In On Hendry Mark

John Higgins had a smooth passage into the third round as he beat Lu Ning 6-1. The highlight for Higgins was a break of 103 in the third frame; his 772nd career century which leaves him just three short of Stephen Hendry’s 775.

“I’m just happy to win,” said Higgins, who won this title in 1998, 2000 and 2010. “Lu started off well but after that he missed a few and I was able to capitalise. I feel as if I am hitting the ball ok. I have put a fair bit of work in for this one.”

Martin O’Donnell top scored with 130 as he beat Ricky Walden 6-2 while Stephen Maguire made a 108 in a 6-2 defeat of Jordan Brown. Joe Perry earned a 6-3 success over Sunny Akani. The Race to the Masters is heating up with Maguire, Perry, Ding Junhui and Ali Carter all into the third round.

Judd Trump had a very easy passage to the third round. Himself played very well and Mei Xiwen got off to a bad start which nobody can afford against Judd nowadays. Judd’s tribute to his parents is a truer reflection of the Judd Trump I have met away from snooker than some of the brazen attitude we have seen at times. He knows how many sacrifices his parents have made to support his career and he wants to pay them back. This is absolutely genuine and it’s not the first time he’s thanked them after a win either.

Another player who seems to get back to some sort of form is Graeme Dott. Graeme never got the recognition he deserves. He got a “slow, boring, negative” tag only because the World Final in 2006 against Peter Ebdon. Both players were exhausted out there. Graeme in his normal state is positive, attacking and playing at a totally decent pace. He’s good to watch and a terrific fighter.

Liang Wenbo came back from his mother’s funeral and managed to win. Liang’s mum was only 56 and far too young to go. My thoughts are with Liang and his family. And, maybe, Liang’s mother’s health has been a concern for some time and it would explain his recent loss of form.

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