Tour News – China Open 2020 postponed, top seeds matches schedule at world Grand Prix annouced

Here are the articles by WST

China Open 2020 postponed

Following extensive consultation between WST, the WPBSA and our many partners in China, we have taken the difficult decision to postpone the 2020 China Open.

This flagship China event had been scheduled for March 30 to April 5 in Beijing, however considering the current health and travel situation in China our highest priority has to be the welfare of our players, staff and the many fans who travel around China and beyond.

Discussions with our partners in terms of staging this event at a later date are ongoing. In the meantime, our thoughts are with all of our many friends across China and in particular those affected by the coronavirus.

and add to it this tweet by the generally very well informed Hector Nunns


announce 2020 China Open cancelled on health grounds, coronavirus. No set plans to re-run, though could happen next season. Last major event before Crucible is top-8-only Tour Championship. May now get more entries for Gibraltar Open, 128-draw event preceding that.

I can only suppose that this means that the China Open qualifiers will also be cancelled. Otherwise if the event is only staged next season, players who qualify might no more be on tour, and the rookies wouldn’t get a chance to qualify. I would make no sense.

And, of course, unless the situation gets under control rapidly, other Chinese events played early in the season might be in doubt as well.

Also some matches have alraedy be scheduled for the World Grand Prix

First round matches for the current top four seeds have been scheduled for next week’s Coral World Grand Prix in Cheltenham.

Judd Trump, Shaun Murphy, Mark Selby and Ding Junhui have all had their opening matches scheduled, while other top stars in the draw such as Ronnie O’Sullivan, John Higgins, Mark Williams, Mark Allen and local favourite Jack Lisowski will be given slots in due course.

The tournament at the Centaur Venue at Cheltenham Racecourse runs from February 3-9. Only the top 32 players on the one-year ranking list will qualify.

The final counting event is this week’s German Masters in Berlin, so the race to the line could run until Sunday. The full line-up and schedule for the event will then be announced.

The current top four on the list have been scheduled as follows:

Mark Selby v opponent: Monday February 3rd at 7pm
Ding Junhui v opponent: Tuesday February 4th at 1pm
Judd Trump v opponent: Tuesday February 4th at 7pm
Shaun Murphy v opponent: Tuesday February 4th at 7pm

The draw is seeded so that number one plays number 32 and so on.

Tickets are still available but are selling fast so fans should book quickly. They start at just £15 with some incredible VIP packages available from just £75.

For details call 0871 620 7052 or visit

The tournament was staged in  Cheltenham Racecourse for the first time last year, and Bristol’s Trump took the title by beating Ali Carter in the final.

Televised live by ITV4, the event has total prize money of £380,000.

The Coral World Grand Prix is the first of the Coral Series events, with the top 16 going through to the Coral Players Championship in Southport (February 24 to March 1) and then only the top eight make the Coral Tour Championship in Llandudno (March 17-22).

As it stands currently, provided that his participation is confirmed, Ronnie is set to play David Gilbert in his opening match.

2020 German Masters – Day 2

The second day in Berlin saw John Higgins, Ding Junhui and Mark Williams depart from the competition.

Here is the WST report on yesterday’s atcion:

Neil Robertson secured a 5-1 win over Ian Burns to reach the last 16 of the BetVictor German Masters at the Tempodrom in Berlin.

The Australian leads the way in the current BetVictor European Series, where the player who accumulates the most prize money over the four events will pick up a £150,000 bonus.

Robertson came into this event off the back of a superb victory at the BetVictor European Masters in Dornbirn, which earned him the £80,000 top prize. He secured the title with a sensational 9-0 defeat of Zhou Yuelong, the first ever ranking final to finish by that scoreline.

This afternoon Robertson composed breaks of 69 and 101 on his way to victory. Following the match Robertson paid tribute to former LA Lakers basketball star Kobe Bryant, who he marks as one of his sporting heroes. Bryant tragically died in a helicopter crash on Sunday.

Robertson said: “It stripped my heart to pieces really. He is someone only a few years older than me, but I have drawn inspiration from him throughout my career. Whenever I finish a match I will always go home, watch it over shot by shot and see what I can do to improve. He did the same with basketball.

“What Kobe Bryant was about was being as good as you can be in life, in whatever you have a real passion about. It isn’t about winning titles or the biggest trophies or being one of the all-time greats, that comes from hard work.”

World Snooker Tour@WeAreWST

Australian snooker star @nr147 on Kobe Bryant

22 people are talking about this

Scott Donaldson battled back from 4-2 down to beat Asian number one Ding Junhui 5-4. The victory boosts Perth’s Donaldson in his bid to secure a place in next week’s Coral World Grand Prix, where only the top 32 players in the one-year money list qualify.

The Scot is making his first appearance at the Tempodrom this week, having never previously won a German Masters match in his seven attempts at qualifying. It’s the second week in a row Donaldson has scored a win over Ding, following a victory last week at the European Masters.

Donaldson top scored with a superb break of 132 in today’s encounter and will now face 2005 World Champion Shaun Murphy for a place in the quarter-finals after the Magician thrashed Tom Ford 5-1.

Robbie Williams also secured an impressive victory on his Tempodrom debut, beating four-time World Champion John Higgins 5-4. It was the first ever meeting between the pair, with Williams prevailing to set up a last 16 clash with Elliott Slessor.

“I’ve played at the Crucible, but the that tops the lot for me. It was unbelievable,” said Williams. “It is great to play John just to see him up close, but I don’t fear the top players like I used to.”

World Champion Judd Trump came through an entertaining clash with Luca Brecel 5-3 to secure his place in the quarter-finals, while Graeme Dott avenged his loss in the 2018 final to Mark Williams coming through a 5-2 victor.

And here is Neil Robertson full post-match, talking about the prospect of winning the European series:

I saw very little of the action again, but I did watch the first mini session of the Robertson v Burns match. It was pretty horrible TBH. Robertson played badly and Burns was even worse. If it was tactics, as Robertson suggests it might be, it certainly didn’t work.

Other than that I watched some of the Trum v Brecel encounter and I found it very frustrating. Luca has all the talent in the world, and certainly could have won that match because Judd looked neither in top form, nor really confident. But some of the shots Luca played left me nonplussed really and they cost him.

2020 German Masters – Day 1

Snooker is back at the Tempodrom for the second leg of the European Series.

Judd Trump who had not qualified for the European Masters is looking to make things right in Berlin and to stay in contention for the £150000

Judd Trump believes that it’s almost win or bust for the chasing pack in Berlin to keep their hopes alive of securing the BetVictor European Series bonus.

The world number one failed to qualify for last week’s European Masters in Austria and so watched Neil Robertson pick up the £80,000 first prize in Dornbirn.

That puts the Australian, also in the field at this week’s BetVictor German Masters, in pole position for the £150,000 extra pay-out for being top money-winner in a four-event series.

Reigning World Champion Trump, 30, is the favourite to lift the trophy at the 2,500-capacity Tempodrom in a strong field.

And if Trump can put pressure on world number four Robertson then he admits he may well enter the quickfire BetVictor Shoot Out and BetVictor Gibraltar Open – events he does not always take part in.

Trump said: “I think I have to win the event in Berlin this week to have a real chance of the bonus.

“It is a good incentive, and with Neil winning last week and also qualifying for the German Masters he has put himself in a very strong position already.

“Someone, and hopefully that can be me, will have to lift the trophy at the German Masters to challenge him. Even then you might be hoping that he doesn’t do so well in the tournament.

“Certainly if I won at the Tempodrom I would probably enter the Shoot Out, and like Neil I don’t normally do that. I think I’d have to. I’ll see what he does!

“A win for one of the top players in Germany could make that Shoot Out a much bigger tournament, and the entries would be fascinating.”

As well as Trump and Robertson there are other leading players who will be eyeing victory in Germany.

Four-time world champion John Higgins, recent UK Championship winner Ding Junhui, three-time Crucible king Mark Williams and the in-form Shaun Murphy are all in the field.

And he started his campaign with a win yesterday. He was speaking to Rachel from ES ahead of his match:

I didn’t see a ball yesterday, and probably won’t see much at all of the tournament because family circumstances. Here is WST report on what happenened yesterday:

Mark Williams produced a fine display to see off Yuan Sijun 5-2 and clinch his place in the last 16 of the BetVictor German Masters in Berlin.

It was a welcome win for Williams, who has struggled to hit top form this season apart from a run to the China Championship final last September. He suffered a first round defeat at the Masters earlier this month and bowed out in the last 64 at the UK Championship before Christmas.

The Welshman was last victorious here at the iconic Tempodrom venue in 2018, when he defeated Graeme Dott 9-1 in a storming victory. Williams went on to claim his third World Championship title later that year at the Crucible.

Williams will now face a repeat of his 2018 showpiece clash with Dott in the last 16, after the Scot sealed his progression by battling back from 4-2 down to beat China’s Tian Pengfei 5-4.

Williams took the opening frame this afternoon after a run of 50, before clearing the colours to steal the second on the black and lead 2-0.

From there the game burst into life, with Yuan firing in a sublime break of 126 to cut his arrears in half. However, Williams claimed the last before the mid-session with a run of 133 to make it 3-1.

Yuan pulled another frame back, but it was in vain as Williams fired in breaks of 88 and 106 to emerge a 5-2 victor.

“I just enjoyed playing a lot better. I have been putting in a lot of practice lately. The Masters was a bit of a washout. I felt my form coming back a bit in Austria. I lost, but the result didn’t really matter to me. It was just about the performance getting better,” said 44-year-old Williams. “This venue is up there with the Wembley Conference Centre. It is unbelievable. If you can get down to that one-table setup the atmosphere is electric, anyone will tell you. Even with five tables in at the start it is fantastic.”

World Champion Judd Trump booked his place in the last 16 with a comfortable 5-1 defeat of Noppon Saengkham.

The Ace in the Pack is in need of a big run this week if he wishes to top the rankings in the all-new BetVictor European Series. The player who tops the rankings across the four events will pick up a huge £150,000 bonus.

Trump composed breaks of 52, 114 and 85 on his way to this evening’s victory. Next up he will face Belgium’s Luca Brecel.

Former German Masters finalist Brecel needs to reach at least the semi-finals this week to stand a chance of getting into the top 32 on the one-year list and qualifying for next week’s Coral World Grand Prix.

He compiled breaks of 83, 80 and 86 on his way to this evening’s victory to set up his meeting with world number one Trump.

World Snooker Tour@WeAreWST

🗣 “We both know how to beat each other”

Belgian number one Luca Brecel has dropped out of the top 32, but he faces the man on top of the rankings tomorrow!

Matthew Selt remains in a strong position to clinch his place at the World Grand Prix after securing a 5-0 whitewash defeat of Jamie Clarke, while Michael Georgiou secured a 5-1 win over Gerard Greene.

And this is Mark Williams post-match:


On the eve of the 2020 German Masters

Tomorrow, the snooker caravan is moving to Berlin…


The fitters are at work and the venue gets ready

It’s the last tournament before; and counting for, the 2020 Players Championship, an event featuring the top 32 in the one year list. Ronnie is only 22th on that list, and not playing in Berlin, due to get even lower. But he is safe, for this one at least.

Here is how the battle for the Player Championship qualification stands (source WST) 

Next week’s BetVictor German Masters will feature no fewer than 19 players outside the top 32 of the one-year ranking list who still have a chance to qualify for the first event in the Coral Series.

The Tempodrom in Berlin hosts the last leg of the race to get into the top 32 and make it to the Coral World Grand Prix in Cheltenham, which runs from February 3 to 9.

Li Hang currently occupies 32nd spot with £50,500 but he has not qualified for Germany so must hope that he is not overtaken. But with an £80,000 top prize on offer in Berlin, all of the 19 players below him still have a chance.

Here’s the list as it stands, including money earned in the BetVictor European Masters and the BetVictor German Masters qualifiers. Players marked * have not qualified for Berlin, while those outside the top 32 who are not in Berlin are not listed.

Position Player Money
28 Matthew Selt £51,750
29 Xiao Guodong* £51,000
30 Scott Donaldson £50,750
31 Matthew Stevens* £50,750
32 Li Hang* £50,500
36 Anthony McGill £43,000
39 Luca Brecel £40,500
40 Jak Jones £39,750
42 Robbie Williams £39,500
43 Yuan Sijun £39,500
45 Nigel Bond £38,250
47 Noppon Saengkham £37,000
49 Sunny Akani £36,500
50 Tian Pengfei £36,250
57 Ian Burns £30,000
63 Elliot Slessor £28,500
66 Robert Milkins £26,000
68 Alexander Ursenbacher £23,750
70 David Grace £23,250
77 Michael Georgiou £18,500
79 Mitchell Mann £17,500
92 Kishan Hirani £11,750
97 Gerard Greene £9,000
120 Jamie Clarke £4,000

Closest challenger Anthony McGill is £7,500 behind Li so needs to reach the semi-finals in Germany to have a chance. Luca Brecel, Jak Jones, Robbie Williams, Yuan Sijun, Nigel Bond, Noppon Saengkham, Sunny Akani and Tian Pengfei can also move above Li by reaching the last four.

BetVictor German Masters prize money
Winner £80,000
Runner-up £35,000
Semi-finals £20,000
Quarter-finals £10,000
Last 16 £5,000
Last 32 £4,000

So it’s all to play for at the Tempodrom. For the match schedule click here.

Only the top 16 on the one-year list after the BetVictor Shoot Out will go through to the Coral Players Championship in Southport, and just the top eight after the BetVictor Gibraltar Open make it to the Coral Tour Championship in Llandudno.

But Ronnie will need to go deep in the Players Championship and the Welsh Open if he wants to defend his Grand Prix title, nevertheless, his Tour Championship title.

Here is the last 32 draw:

German Masters 2020 L32 draw

First quarter:

With Zhao Xintong, Anthony McGill, Scott Donaldson, Shaun Murphy and Ding Junhui in there, this quarter is very hard to predict. I expect Ding or Murphy to prevail but, really, anything can happen! We could have Murphy v Ding in the last 16.  If it happens, it should be a goo entertaining match.

Second quarter:

In the second quarter we have John Higgins, who is neither very confident, nor in top form, and Neil Robertson who I expect to give it his best shot but faces a tough opening against Ian Burns with very little time to rest after his win yesterday. I still expect Robertson to emerge from this quarter.

Third quarter:

On paper Mark Williams has an easy quarter, but Yuan SiJun could well be a “banana skin”. The most interesting match in this quarter is probably Tian Pengfei v Graeme Dott. Dotty seems to be playing better recently and Tian is always dangerous.

The fourth quater:

This is a quarter if two halves. There is a massive opportunity for all of Gerard Greene, Michael Georgiou, David Grace and Sunny Akani. That David and Sunny have to meet in the last 32 is a bit of a heartbreak for me. The other half features Luca Brecel, Joe Perry, Noppon Saengham and Judd Trump. Trump’s form is an unknown quantity right now. Perry is always hard to beat, Brecel blows hot and cold…

2020 European Masters in Austria – Neil Robertson is your Champion!

Neil Robertson, the only “poster boy” actually playing in Dornbirn, has secured his spot on next year poster … by winning the evening, and in some style as well!

Neil beat Zhou Yuelong by 9-0, only the second whitewash tournament win over a multiple sessions match. He’s now on 17 ranking titles, the same as Mark Selby.

Congratulations Neil Robertson

NeilRobertsonEuro Masters2020Win

Here are the reports by WST:

Afternoon session 

Neil Robertson is just one frame away from becoming the second player to whitewash his opponent in a two-session ranking event final as he leads Zhou Yuelong 8-0 at the BetVictor European Masters.

Robertson dominated his opponent throughout the opening session in Dornbirn, Austria as he moved within a frame of the £80,000 first prize.

The only previous whitewash in a ranking final of similar length came at the 1989 Grand Prix when Steve Davis beat Dean Reynolds 10-0.

Victory would give Robertson his 17th ranking title, moving him level with Mark Selby in sixth place on the all-time list. It would be his first ranking title of the season, though he did win the invitational Champion of Champions in November.

The winner’s cheque would give the  37-year-old Australian an early lead in the race to claim the £150,000 bonus in the new BetVictor European Series.

China’s 22-year-old Zhou, playing in his first ranking final, would need an unprecedented fight-back tonight to avoid the runner-up prize of £35,000.

Zhou had chances in the first two frames but couldn’t take them, allowing his opponent to forge ahead. In the opener, Zhou might have cleared from 45-0 down, but failed to gain position on the final blue. A safety exchange on the pink ended when Zhou’s safety error left it over a middle pocket, and Robertson took the opportunity.

The second came down to the last red and again it was Robertson who got the better of the tactical battle, trapping his opponent in a tough snooker, and from the chance that followed he cleared for 2-0. Zhou failed to trouble the scoreboard in the next three frames as Robertson fired breaks of 99, 128 and 82 to lead 5-0.

At that stage Zhou was at the wrong end of a sequence of 410 unanswered points. He ended that run in frame six, but when it came to the last three reds he failed to escape from a snooker and Robertson added the points he needed to extend his advantage.

Runs of 29 and 34 helped Robertson dominate frame seven, and he finished the session superbly with a 109, his seventh century of the week.

The match resumes at 8pm local time.

Evening session

Neil Robertson became the second player ever to whitewash his opponent in a two-session ranking event final as he beat Zhou Yuelong 9-0 to win the BetVictor European Masters in Dornbirn.

It’s a piece of snooker history for the Australian as it’s the first ranking final to finish 9-0. The only previous whitewash over a similar length came at the 1989 Grand Prix when Steve Davis beat Dean Reynolds 10-0.

Robertson destroyed China’s 22-year-old Zhou, who was playing in his first ranking final, with a cold-blooded display. Four frames were won in single visits, the other five demonstrated his tactical supremacy as he marched to the £80,000 top prize. He has now won 17 ranking titles, bringing him level with Mark Selby in sixth place on the all time list.

Most ranking titles
Ronnie O’Sullivan 36
Stephen Hendry 36
John Higgins 30
Steve Davis 28
Mark Williams 22
Neil Robertson 17
Mark Selby 17

Having landed a title early in 2020, the 37-year-old continues his record of winning a tournament in every calendar year since 2006. And he leaps to the head of the Order of Merit for the new BetVictor European Series – the player earning the most money across the four events will earn a huge £150,000 bonus.

Robertson is up from fifth to third in the official world rankings. Surprisingly, prior to this week he had not been beyond the last 16 of a ranking event this season, and came into this tournament in 22nd place on the one-year rankings, but now jumps to eighth to boost his hopes of qualifying for all three Coral Series events.

The Melbourne native, World Champion in 2010, has now won an impressive ratio of 17 of his 27 ranking finals.

Zhou, by contrast, came into today’s match with a bare minimum of experience at this level – his only previous final of note came at the 2015 World Cup when, alongside Yan Bingtao, he claimed glory for China.

His 6-5 semi-final win over Gary Wilson finished at 1.20am in Sunday’s small hours, hardly the best preparation for the biggest match of his life. The young talent from Chengdu had chances in the first two frames against Robertson. But after he failed to take them, he couldn’t keep tracks with an opponent who showed no mercy.

Defeat by such a margin is a blow to Zhou’s confidence but it has still been a week in which he has shown his potential, beating the likes of Wilson, Mark Williams and Barry Hawkins. He banks £35,000 and moves seven places up the world rankings to 25th.

Breaks of 57, 99, 128, 82 and 109 helped Robertson to take eight all frames in the first session. When they returned this evening, Zhou had chances to avoid the whitewash as he led 45-1 in the opening frame. But Robertson, ruthless to the end, clawed his way back into the frame and took it to the colours. He trapped Zhou in a tough snooker on the green, and from the chance that followed he potted green and brown to secure the title.

“It was a strange feeling tonight because if I had lost one or two frames I would have been disappointed not to join Steve Davis, 31 years after it had previously been done,” said Robertson. “That gave me an extra focus tonight, to really try and win that frame. On the colours I was just praying for one chance, and I knocked in a good green.

“The first two frames this afternoon could have gone either way, after that I played well, I was very aggressive. My long potting was ridiculous and I scored very heavily. From 2-0 to 8-0 he didn’t do much wrong.

“To win 9-0 is amazing. It’s just one of those rare things. I didn’t let him settle, I kept my foot down all the way. I was determined to win every frame. I feel a bit sorry for the crowd tonight because they didn’t see much snooker, but at the same time they got to witness a bit of history.

“As soon as I was shaking Zhou’s hand I told him not to worry about it. He has a lot of positives to take away from the week. I’m sure he will win a tournament before long.

“Winning a title early in the year gives me breathing space. I’m really proud of that record (winning a title in 15 consecutive years). I always try to improve every year because the whole tour is improving all the time.

“I’m really keen to press home my advantage (for the BetVictor bonus), a good run in Germany could almost secure it for me. You might see me in the Shoot Out as well.”

Zhou said: “The first two frames were important. Neil won them both and after that he had less pressure on him. If I had won one of them it might have been different. For the next few frames I had no chance, I didn’t score a point. I tried my hardest and I hope in my next final I will play better.”

For Zhou it was a very hard day. It was his first ever final, he had a very hard semi final on the previous evening, actually only finishing in the early hours in the morning. I’m sure that he tried his best and he certainly can play better,  The first two frames were crucial indeed. He could have been 2-0 up and we probably would have had a different match. And he even found the strenght to smile during the trophy ceremony…



2020 European Masters in Austrie – Day 4 – SFs

The Final in Dornbirn will be contested between Neil Robertson and Zhou Yuelong. Neil will start heavy favourite for a number of reasons. He’s been there before, Zhou is competing in his first ranking final, Neil had an easy match, in the afternoon, Zhou won a hard fought encounter, that went to a decider and finished well past 1 am this morning. He was probably high on adrenaline too and unlikely to fall asleep easily. But, the young Chinese – he only turned 22 a couple of days ago – has shown outstanding battling qualities and is very sound tactically. I hope that he will settle quickly and that we are in for a great final.

Good luck to both players!

Here is how we got there:

Neil Robertson 6-1 Ali Carter (WST report):

Neil Robertson remained on course for his first ranking title of the season as he thrashed a despondent Ali Carter 6-1 in the semi-finals of the BetVictor European Masters in Austria.

Robertson is through to the 27th ranking event final of his career and will be looking for his 17th title on Sunday, which would bring him level with Mark Selby in sixth place on the all-time list. The 37-year-old Australian will face Gary Wilson or Zhou Yuelong over 17 frames at the Messe Dornbirn arena, with the winner to take the £80,000 top prize.

Prior to this week, world number five Robertson had not been beyond the last 16 of a ranking event this season, though he did win the invitational Champion of Champions in November. The former World Champion has looked sharp all week and was far too strong for Carter today.

Both players struggled to settle in a cagey opening to the match as the first three frames took 70 minutes. With the score at 1-1, Robertson crucially took the third on the colours,  converting excellent pots on the brown and black in a 22 clearance. He made a break of 55 in the next to lead 3-1 at the interval.

Frame five came down to the last red and Carter was unlucky to narrowly miss an attempted pot to a baulk corner, leaving it in the jaws. Robertson missed the blue leading by 19 points but Carter, seeming to lose heart, elected not to play for snookers.

A run of 79 put Robertson 5-1 ahead. Carter led 62-0 in the seventh but couldn’t seal the frame, and a cracking long red set his opponent up for a match-winning 64 clearance.

“Ali’s mindset didn’t seem to be there from the outset, maybe it was a hangover from the Masters,” said Robertson. “I hope that’s what it was, rather than a health problem. It was difficult to play because a lot was going through my mind about what was going on. My concentration was all over the place. I just had to knuckle down, try to be as professional as I could and get the job done.

“It’s always a great occasion being in a final, I always enjoy it. I’ll be playing someone who has never won a ranking event before so he will be hungry.  I’ll prepare as well as I can and if I play great I should get a good result, if I don’t play well I’m willing to grind it out as I did today. It was a great crowd today and I’m sure tomorrow they will get a brilliant match.

“I’m trying to win more ranking events, I’d love to get to 20 and if I achieve that I will refocus my goals.”

I stopped watching at the MSI. It was clear already that there would be only one winner as Ali’s attitude was anything but right. I didn’t really want to see more of it. One can only admire Neil’s natural kindness, a quality once again showing through his reaction to his opponent’s antics. I know that Ali suffers health issues and that sometimes surely it affects his mood and his ability to focus on the match at hand. It’s still hard to watch.

Zhou Yuelong 6-5 Gary Wilson (WST report):

Zhou Yuelong reached the final of a ranking event for the first time by beating Gary Wilson 6-5 in a five-hour marathon at the BetVictor European Masters.

In a semi-final which finished at 1.20am, China’s 22-year-old Zhou made an excellent break of 60 in the deciding frame to set up a match with Neil Robertson on Sunday in Dornbirn. First to nine frames will take the trophy and £80,000 top prize.

World number 32 Zhou will be aiming to win his first ranking title and become the third Chinese winner this season after Yan Bingtao and Ding Junhui.

His only previous ranking event semi-final came in the same tournament in 2017 when he lost to Stuart Bingham, but this time he out-fought the more experienced Wilson in a tough battle.

World number 18 Wilson took the opening frame with a break of 62, then Zhou got the better of a safety exchange on the last red in the second as he levelled at 1-1. A run of 64 saw Wilson regain the lead, and in the fourth he took advantage of a missed black from his opponent at 31-31 to go 3-1 up at the interval.

A 45-minute fifth frame went Zhou’s way then he changed pace with a break of 113 to level at 3-3. Wilson’s 77 gave him the seventh but Zhou hit back again, making a 54 as he took the eighth. The key moment of frame nine came when Wilson missed the penultimate red to a centre pocket when trailing by 39 points, and Zhou later potted the red as he went ahead for the first time at 5-4.

Zhou had first chance in frame ten but had scored just 8 when he was unlucky to knock in a red as he split the pack off the blue. Wallsend’s Wilson punished him with an excellent 74 for 5-5. A safety exchange early in the decider ended when Zhou slotted a long red into a baulk corner, and he went on to make 60 which proved enough.

“Ever since I started playing snooker I have dreamed of reaching a ranking final,” said Zhou. “I feel fantastic. I have played well all week and I played some good safety tonight. I have never experienced this before. I am excited but I will try to have a good rest tonight.”

Sunday’s final starts at 2pm local time.

Zhou had never reached a ranking final before. He showed tremendous qualities of resilience out there. There were mistakes on both sides, there was pressure. He was the less experienced of the two, not just because he is the youngest: Gary had reached a final before, he reached the semi finals at the Crucible last April. It annoyed me that – to my ears at least – the ES pundits, Joe Johnson and Philip Studd, were so biased in favour of Gary. Yes, he made the best start of the two. But that was it. At 3-3, to me, Zhou had shown his mettle and looked favourite. The commentators seemed to dwell more on Zhou mistakes than they did on his opponent. They seemed convinced that Gary would prevail eventually. If Zhou wasn’t playing well (sic) then neither was Gary. Both were tense, with a lot at stake obviously. Actually Zhou was very solid tactically I thought.

2020 European Masters in Austria – Day 3 – QFs

As we reach the semi finals stage, and a longer format with interval – best of 11 – we have an interesting and slightly unexpected line-up.

Neil Robertson will face Ali Carter in the afternoon, as a result of yesterday’s afternoon session (report WST)

Masters runner-up Ali Carter admitted it was tough to find the motivation to get back on the snooker saddle this week in Austria, but having fought through the fatigue he’s into the semi-finals.

Carter saw off Scott Donaldson 5-1 to reach the last four of the BetVictor European Masters, and on Saturday he’ll face Neil Robertson who made three centuries as he beat Thepchaiya Un-Nooh by the same scoreline.

Just five days ago, Carter missed the chance to win his first Triple Crown title as he lost 10-8 in a fiercely contested Masters final against Stuart Bingham. Shrugging off that disappointment, he travelled to Dornbirn and has won three matches this week to reach the semis.

Today Carter went 3-0 up with breaks of 65, 73 and 72. Donaldson made a 58 clearance to pinch the fourth frame then Carter enjoyed a stroke of good fortune in the fifth when he fluked a red, escaping from a snooker. The Essex cueman took advantage to go 4-1 up then clinched the result in the next with a 57 clearance.

“It was a convincing win. I was pleased by the way I finished it off,” said world number 17 Carter. “I have exceeded my expectations by getting to the semi-finals here.

“I was so tired last week after the Masters. It was very difficult to pick myself up. But it’s my job. Sometimes you don’t want to get up in the morning and go to work, but you have to. Now I’m pleased I have come here because I’m in the semis and hopefully I can keep it going.

“To play Neil will be like another Masters match, now we’re down to one table. He obviously played very well today. It will be tough but it’s a great match to be involved in.”

Robertson chasing 17th ranking title

Before this week, Australia’s Robertson had not been beyond the last 16 of a ranking event this season, but he is now just two wins away from a 17th career ranking title.

Robertson took the first two frames with breaks of 104 and 107 then added a scrappy third for 3-0. Thailand’s Un-Nooh pulled one back with a 66 but there was no stopping world number five Robertson as he fired runs of 87 and 115 to reach his 37th ranking event semi-final.

“It was perfect, one of my best performances of the season,” said the 2010 World Champion. “I played Thepchaiya at the Scottish Open last month and he beat me 4-0 in 40 minutes, it was unbelievable. Everyone on tour knows what he is capable of, I just hope he can do that more on the TV tables and get into the top 16.

“I have a good record at the business end of tournament. I’m just going out there and playing, and if it’s good enough I’ll keep the run going.”

This is the first event in the new BetVictor European Series, with a massive bonus of £150,000 for the player who wins the most money across the four events. Robertson indicated that if he is in a strong position after next week’s BetVictor German Masters, he’ll be temped to enter the BetVictor Shoot Out for the first time since 2011.

“I’ll decide after Germany,” he said. “The Shoot Out is a great event, the matches are really a toss of a coin but and I enjoy watching it on TV. It was good to see Thepchaiya winning it last year – if every tournament had that format he’d be world number one.”

And the other semi final, in the evening, will see Gary Wilson play Zhou Yuelong. Here is the report by WST.

Zhou Yuelong celebrated Chinese New Year and his birthday by beating Barry Hawkins 5-2 to reached the semi-finals of the BetVictor European Masters in Austria.

Zhou, who turns 22 today, is through to the last four of a ranking event for the second time in his career and will now meet Gary Wilson, who impressed in a 5-3 victory over Marco Fu.

Hawkins scored a superb 5-4 win over Mark Selby yesterday but could not replicate that performance and was outplayed by world number 32 Zhou.

Londoner Hawkins had chances in the first two frames but didn’t take them and his opponent went 2-0 up. Zhou then fired breaks of 76 and 78 for 4-0. Hawkins pulled two frames back only for Zhou to finish the match in style with a 113.

“The second frame was important because Barry should have made it 1-1, so once it was 2-0 I could relax,” said Zhou, who is based in Sheffield. “When he came back to 4-2 I kept my focus and waited for my chance, and when it came I wanted to clear the table.

“This week I have had my coach Wu Wen Zhong with me. I have been working with him for 12 years but only recently he has come to the UK for the first time and now he is here in Austria. He is a big help and gives me confidence.”

Asked whether he would celebrate the win, his birthday and the Chinese Year of the Rat, Zhou replied simply: “No, I’ll just go to sleep.”

Potting For Fun Helps Wilson 

Wilson was a semi-finalist at the World Championship last year and has matched that run this week. Victory over Zhou tomorrow would give him his second ranking final, the other coming at the 2015 China Open when he lost to Selby.

Hong Kong’s Fu took the opening frame then Wilson levelled with a break of 95. The Englishman nicked a tight third frame on the pink then made a 104 to lead 3-1.

A high scoring contest saw Fu pull one back with an 82 before Wilson made a 105 for 4-2. Fu made a 64 as he took frame seven but Wilson sealed the result in the eighth with his third century, 105.

“It was a funny game, Marco was playing really quickly,” said world number 18 Wilson. “I asked him about it at the end and he said he was tired because he is still having trouble with his eyes (Fu has retinal degeneration). I wasn’t feeling great myself so I tried to play fluently and have a really quick game. It probably worked in my favour because it was a scoring session. I was just running around and potting what was there.

“I’m just happy to be in a semi-final and anything is a bonus now, I’ll just try to keep potting balls. I have been to this stage of tournaments many times, obviously I want to win one but I’ll just keep playing matches and not think about anything like that.”

The result ended Fu’s hopes of qualifying for the Coral World Grand Prix as he needed to reach the final this week to secure a place in Cheltenham.

Saturday’s semi-finals
2pm Neil Robertson v Ali Carter
8pm Gary Wilson v Zhou Yuelong

The Zhou v Hawkins match is the only one I watched yesterday. Zhou looked very nervous at the start, and missed a few, but Barry was terrible and didn’t take advantage. At 4-0 down, I suppose that Barry just relaxed and he played two decent frames. Zhou didn’t panic and, when offered the chance, finished in style. The only aspect in his game that really needs improving is the “rest shot”. He’s even worse at it than Matthew Stevens and that takes some doing! It’s bizarre, because Zhou isn’t tall, he’s actually quite short, and he probably needs the rest more often than most.

Also, the part in bold (added by me) confirms what I suspected regarding the reasons behind Marco’s game change of pace.

Finally …


A very Happy New Year to all my Chinese friends and readers!

May the Year of the Rat bring you, and those dear to you, health, peace of mind and happiness, as well as success in all your endeavours.