David Gilbert, this year’s only debutant, continued to impress as he booked his place to today’s semi finals. He’s clearly enjoying the whole tournament setup and atmosphere and it inspires him. He’s a breath of fresh air. He’s like a kid at their first Christmas. There is something fundamentally genuine and refreshing about him that is endearing.
His opponent, Stephen Maguire wasn’t enjoying himself at all and it felt. I like Maguire, he’s also a genuine guy who says it as he sees it. He was deeply annoyed with himself out there. He would rather have been elsewhere, preferably far away, rather than put up the display he did.
David Gilbert 6-2 Stephen Maguire (WST report)
Just five players have lifted the trophy at snooker’s biggest invitation event on their first appearance, and Gilbert is now two wins away from becoming the sixth. The Tamworth cueman is certainly playing well enough to go all the way; he has made two centuries and seven more breaks over 50 in the 12 frames he has won. He meets Kyren Wilson or Stuart Bingham at Alexandra Palace on Saturday evening.
Players to have won the Masters on their debut
1975 John Spencer (the first Masters)
1977 Doug Mountjoy
1980 Terry Griffiths
1989 Stephen Hendry
2008 Mark Selby
Age 38, Gilbert has played the best snooker of his life over the last two years, climbing into the top 16 for the first time. He reached the semi-finals of the World Championship last season and is now into the last four of a Triple Crown event for the second time. All that is missing from his snooker CV is a title.
He made a superb start today with a 144 total clearance in the opening frame – the new front runner for the £15,000 high break prize. The world number 11 took the next on the colours then made a 91 to lead 3-0.
Glasgow’s Maguire took the fourth, helped by a run of 57, and he had chances in the next two. But a weak safety on the last red cost him frame five and he missed the last red to a centre pocket in the sixth. Both times Gilbert cleared as he opened up a 5-1 lead.
Early in frame seven Gilbert accidentally touched a red with his finger while on a break of 16, owning up to the foul immediately. World number 15 Maguire made 94 to pull one back and raise his hopes of another fight back as he beat Neil Robertson 6-5 from 5-1 down in the first round.
The Scot had first chance in frame eight and made 46 before missing a tricky red along the top cushion. That proved his last shot as Gilbert compiled a match-winning 77 clearance.
“I felt comfortable out there,” said Gilbert. “The big crowd helps me to focus. I used to go the other way. I believe in myself now and I’m not inhibited by the scenario. I want to be out there against the best players. Getting into this event was never on my agenda in the past but now to have people cheering for me in an arena like this is what you dream of.
“A lot of people talk about when I’m going to win a tournament and if it happened here it would be the best day of my life. I’m just keeping the same attitude and frame of mind for each match and if I do that I can beat anyone.
“I won a couple of scrappy frames today. I used to lose those all of the time but now I can nick a few of them and I know how valuable they are. When Stephen came back to 5-2 he looked like he was flowing so I was pleased to finish it with a good break.”
Maguire, who was runner-up at the UK Championship last month, said: “I was pathetic. I tried my hardest but it got to the point where I didn’t want to be among the balls because I knew I wouldn’t do anything. I had no touch.
“I wasn’t worried at 3-0 but the frame I lost to go 4-1, I knew that was it, I was going home. And then I did the same again in the next frame. Maybe I can’t handle the pressure. I played the same against Neil Robertson, he just let me off the hook.
“I’m happy for Dave and I hope he wins it because he is the most decent guy among the players left.”
Ronnie was in the studio in the evening. During this tournament he’s been rather critical of Kyren Wilson. I believe that there is more frustration than anything else here. Kyren is a great guy, blessed with a fantastic temperament, but his technique isn’t on par with his other qualities. Ronnie believes that the should, and is capable, of make changes in that department.
Stuart Bingham was clearly upbeat and enjoying the loud Ally Pally atmosphere especially whilst he was coming back. Kyren not so, he looked a bit flat, particularly towards the end. It was a very long match, with a number of hard fought frames. In his postmatch, he said that he was fatigued. I believe him, he’s not one for making excuses and players should be allowed to simply tell it how it is.
Stuart Bingham 6-4 Kyren Wilson (WST report)
Stuart Bingham battled back from 4-1 down to beat world number eight Kyren Wilson 6-4 and reach the semi-finals of the Dafabet Masters at Alexandra Palace.
Essex cueman Bingham will now face debutant David Gilbert tomorrow evening for a place in the final.
It will be Bingham’s second appearance in the last four of the Masters, he also made the semis in 2016. However, this is also only the second time Bingham has progressed beyond the first round in his ten attempts.
The other semi-final will be contested between 2015 champion Shaun Murphy and Ali Carter, meaning that there is only one former winner left in the field.
It was 2018 finalist Wilson who got the better of the early stages this evening. He opened up proceedings with a sublime break of 139 to go 1-0 up. He then claimed a 41-minute second frame on the pink to double his lead.
Bingham pulled a frame back courtesy of a 69 break. However, Wilson won his second 41-minute frame of the evening to head into the mid-session interval 3-1 up.
The Warrior made it 4-1 in dramatic circumstances after Bingham missed a vital red on 65. Wilson stepped up to punish him with a break of 71 to steal on the black.
A crucial turning point came in the sixth frame, where Bingham doubled the final black to the middle to keep himself in touch at 4-2. He then froze out his opponent for two frames, with breaks of 82 and 75 to draw level at 4-4.
After edging 5-4 ahead, the decisive tenth frame came down to the final two colours. Bingham eventually deposited a long range pink before falling nicely on the black to secure a dramatic victory.
“I’m not sure how I turned it around. I just tried to enjoy myself out there. At 4-1, whatever I was trying to do just wasn’t working,” said Bingham. “With the double in the sixth frame, I felt like I needed to do something to change things about. It went in and it did change everything. I started to get going.
“It will be a tough match against David Gilbert. He turned it on this afternoon first frame with a 144 and that shows what level he is at.
“It can be pretty daunting here, even if you are a seasoned pro like myself. I’ve come here and frozen out there loads of times. He is letting his snooker do the talking and fair play to him, he is here on merit.
“It would mean a lot to get to the final. This tournament has a lot of history to it. With the trophy named after the late great Paul Hunter it would mean everything to get my hands on it.”
Wilson said: “I’m not going to be too hard on myself. Maybe just a bit of fatigue came in at the end so it’s just one of them really.
“I thought Stuart played really well from 4-2 down. He nicked the sixth frame by doubling the black and I think that gave him a bit of momentum. He had a one-visit straight after and that started to put me under pressure. I lost the momentum from there.”
At this stage, I would absolutely love to see Gilbert lifting the trophy tomorrow. However, from what we have seen this week, and on experience, I believe that Shaun Murphy is now a firm favourite.