2020 European Masters in Austria – Day 2

Yesterday in Dornbirn saw all remaining top 16 players exit, except for Barry Hawkins and Neil Robertson. .

Mark Williams was ahead for most of his match against Zhou Yuelong, but lost in the decider. This was still a last 32 match.

Here is WST report on the morning session (L32)

A slice of misfortune at a crucial moment proved costly for Mark Williams as he suffered a 5-4 defeat against Zhou Yuelong in the last 32 of the BetVictor European Masters in Dornbirn.

China’s Zhou fluked a snooker on the green in the penultimate frame when he trailed 4-3, and took advantage as he went through to the last 16 to face Jackson Page on Thursday evening.

Three-time World Champion Williams has been beyond the last 32 of just one ranking event so far this season – at the China Championship in September where he reached the final before losing to Shaun Murphy.

The Welshman looked favourite today when he led 4-3 with top breaks of 66, 73 and 94. Frame eight came down to the colours, and when Williams found himself snookered behind the brown, he failed to escape, giving Zhou the chance to clear for 4-4.

The decider was a scrappy affair though 21-year-old Zhou showed impressive tactical nous to create a chance and make a fine break of 42 which proved vital.

“He had so much run in the last two frames, the kisses he was getting, it was frightening,” insisted Williams. “Especially at 4-3 when he snookered me behind the brown. But that’s the way it goes.

“In the last frame, whoever got in and made a 30 or 40 was going to win it, but I didn’t get a chance.”

Williams showed his frustration earlier in the match, punching the table after one miss, and it was a disappointing day for the 44-year-old as he missed the chance to take on Page, his protégé and practice partner.

“Usually I’m good with my emotions but I felt if I showed a bit, it might make me play better,” added Williams. “I didn’t play badly. If I had played Jackson it would have been difficult because I don’t need the points, and he needs them to stay on tour.”

It was a good morning for young Chinese talent as Zhao Xintong saw off Michael White 5-2 with a top break of 95. He now plays Crucible semi-finalist Gary Wilson, who top scored with 106 as he beat Luca Brecel 5-1

This is unusual for Williams to “moan” about luck. As I didn’t see the match, I can’t comment though.

The last 16 round was played to a completion in the afternoon and the evening.

I watched John Higgins v Thepchaiya Un-nooh. Thepchaiya looked tired, maybe jet lagged, missed quite a few easy balls but got better as the match progressed. To me the main difference was that Theppy went for his shots, whilst Higgins was more defensive and refused a few opportunities.

Here is the afternoon report by WST

John Higgins described a 5-4 defeat against Thepchaiya Un-Nooh at the BetVictor European Masters as a “tough one to take” as he failed to capitalise on a 4-2 lead.

Thailand’s Un-Nooh is through to the quarter-finals in Dornbirn where he will meet Neil Robertson, who beat Graeme Dott 5-2.

Four-time World Champion Higgins admitted yesterday that his game these days is a mixture of good and bad performances, and today’s result is certainly a blow as he is yet to reach a ranking final this season.

He opened the match with a break of 92 and later led 4-2 but passed up several chances to finish the tie in frame seven, notably missing the final yellow after his opponent had gone in-off. Un-Nooh cleared the table then got the better of frame eight before making a superb 89 in the decider.

“I have always wanted to beat John, to do that for the first time today is a dream come true,” said Un-Nooh, who won his first ranking title at the Shoot Out last season. “I have always watched him and tried to learn from his safety game, even when he has beaten me. Deep down I hope I can win another tournament.”

Higgins said: “It’s a tough one to take, I should have won 5-2. If you don’t take your chances the balls don’t forgive you. Finishing off matches gets harder as you get older. Thepchaiya made a great break in the last frame.”

Vegan Burger Helps Robertson Sizzle

Robertson reached his first ranking event quarter-final of the season by beating Dott with top breaks of 51, 52, 75, 50 and 50.

It has been a roller-coaster campaign for Robertson as he won the invitational Champion of Champions in November but has suffered a few mishaps in ranking events, including a cancelled flight which caused him to miss the Riga Masters and a navigational error which cost him a place in the World Open.

But the Australian still has time to add to his tally of 16 ranking titles this season. “Things are in my hands, I have done enough to qualify for the World Grand Prix now and there’s still time to get into the other Coral Series events,” said Robertson. “I’ve got a lot of inspiration and motivation to get back into those tournaments.”

Robertson has followed a plant-based diet for several years and managed to find a vegan cafe in Dornbirn. “When I got here I thought I’d just be living off supermarket food and buying loads of fruit,” he added. “Then this morning I randomly walked past a cafe called Vegan Burger. I went in and they do vegan sushi, cakes and all sorts so I’m well in my element there.”

Donaldson Keeps Run Going

Scott Donaldson followed up yesterday win’s over Kyren Wilson by beating another player ranked inside the world’s top ten, Ding Junhui. Runs of 109, 50 and 76 helped Perthshire’s Donaldson to a 5-2 success.

“I really enjoyed the game,” said the Scot. “I feel very calm and in control of my emotions. I know what I’m capable of and I’m happy with my game.

“The best players win most of the tournaments because they have more ability than the others. I am trying to close that gap by making small improvements. And the results are showing I’m going the right way. I’m trying to cut out the frustration you sometimes get when your opponent plays well or has a bit of luck.”

In the race to qualify for the Coral World Grand Prix in Cheltenham, Donaldson has now moved ahead of Ben Woollaston and into the top 32. Next week’s BetVictor German Masters also counts towards the race so Donaldson is not safe yet, but the £11,000 he is already guaranteed from this event has boosted his chances.

He added: “It will be a bonus if I get in. But I’m just keeping my head down and playing matches.”

Donaldson now plays Ali Carter, who came from 2-0 down to beat Michael Holt 5-4 with a top break of 62.

Scott Donaldson is a strange player. You don’t hear about him for weeks or months and, when you don’t expect it, he’s on a good run in a tournament. If he can beat Ali, he might well go very deep this week, although Neil Robertson will probaly be waiting in the semi-finals.

This is the WST report on the evening session:

Barry Hawkins gave up a 4-0 lead against Mark Selby but kept his composure to win 5-4 and reach the quarter-finals of the BetVictor European Masters.

An exciting match which included three centuries and six more breaks over 50 eventually went Hawkins’ way as he booked a meeting with Zhou Yuelong.

Hawkins is through to the quarter-finals of a ranking event for only the second time this season and first since September.

The world number 12 from London played superb snooker in the first half of the match tonight as breaks of 55, 69, 102 and 100 gave him the first four frames. He had chances to seal the result in a scrappy fifth but couldn’t take them and Selby eventually cleared from green to black to snatch it, raising his arms to the crowd as he got one on the board.

Hawkins had first chance in frame six but only made 44 and Selby cleared with 82 to close to 4-2. Runs of 136 and 72 got the three-time World Champion back to 4-4.

A run of 50 put Hawkins ahead in the decider. Selby had once chance to counter but missed the pink to a centre pocket on 13 and his opponent added 59 to seal victory.

“I’m delighted. Even at 4-0 I knew it wasn’t over,” said Hawkins. “I was a bit unlucky not to win earlier and then I was sitting in my chair at 4-4 thinking I hadn’t done a lot wrong. I was very pleased to make a decent break in the last frame after what had gone before. I still felt good in myself and I fancied winning.

“When I lost in the Masters last week I felt awful, it was the worst I had felt for a long time. I felt uncomfortable and had no self belief whatsoever. Sometimes you need a good kick up the bum and I have worked hard since then. To beat Mark tonight gives me back some confidence.”

China’s Zhou beat Jackson Page 5-3 with top breaks of 53, 91 and 100. Gary Wilson saw off Zhao Xintong 5-1 with a top break of 102. He now meets Marco Fu who top scored with 72 in a 5-2 win over Xiao Guodong. Hong Kong’s Fu is through the quarter-finals of a ranking event for the first time since the 2018 World Open.

Friday’s Quarter-finals
Ali Carter v Scott Donaldson
Thepchaiya Un-Nooh v Neil Robertson
Zhou Yuelong v Barry Hawkins
Marco Fu v Gary Wilson

I watched Hawkis v Selby and it was bizarre. For the first four frames Barry was playing well, but to be fair, Mark was playing terrible. His highest break was a rare 25 and at a point Barry scored over 300 points without reply against him. But, as they say, the last frame is the hardest to win and Barry couldn’t finish him off there and then. It’s all Mark needed to come to life, and at 4-4, I expected him to win. Credits to Barry to find the resources to win the decider.

 

3 thoughts on “2020 European Masters in Austria – Day 2

  1. It really came alive in Dornbirn yesterday with three great matches on the main table. Zou and Williams missed a few, but when it came to the decider, Zhou played a great last frame – his tactics were superb. Thepchaiya and Higgins were also missing some, but Thepchaiya controlled himself very well in the final break, taking his time which is unusual for him. Then the epic Selby-Hawkins match. The crowd were very involved, and the numbers have been increasing.

    Elsewhere Donaldson and Wilson were excellent, and may continue. Marco Fu wasn’t quite as extreme as in his first match, but still rapid. Playing like this he could beat Ronnie’s fastest 147 record, but not win the tournament. I don’t know why he’s resorted to this.

    Others did what they had to. There have been several players seemingly going through the motions, just playing their match win-or-lose. This makes the tournament wide open. I don’t know if the Austrian crowd are happy when the favourites lose, but it was noticeable how much support the famous players Selby, Higgins and Williams got.

    • Re Marco Fu I wonder if it could be related to his eyes issues. I have an eye problem similar to his – it’s not rare at my age but unusual for someone Marco’s age. One symptom is that you see “floaters”, like dark spots moving and hindering your vision. Over time your brain learns to ignore them, to an extend. But for me at least, if I’m tired or if I stare intensely at something for a long(ish) time, it’s more difficult to “ignore”.

      • Yes, any problem with the eyes will result in tiredness issues, which in Marco’s case is a real problem as he is a player who constantly needs to fine-tune his game with practice. Maybe playing so fast helps his rhythm? Maybe faster matches aim to avoid getting tired? Maybe to get to bed earlier and sleep? It’s probably not related to Dornbirn or Chinese New Year, as he’s been this way in a couple of earlier tournaments. One other possibility is that he is just going through the motions, winding down his career. Let’s hope not, but I am sure playing to his best level must be difficult for him these days.

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