2020 World Grand Prix – Races in Cheltenham – Day 3

The afternoon session yesterday at the Centaur saw the conclusion of the last 32 round.

Here is the WST report:

Mark Williams overcame an attack of gout which left him “lying on the floor screaming” to beat Barry Hawkins 4-2 in the first round of the Coral World Grand Prix.

Williams is into the last 16 at Cheltenham Racecourse and will face Neil Robertson on Thursday afternoon.

Gout, a condition which causes sudden extreme pain, struck Williams last Saturday when he tweeted it felt as if “someone has hit my big toe with a hammer.” Medication has eased the pain and he was able to compete today, aided by an exemption which allowed him to wear a soft shoe on his left foot.

The three-time World Champion was far from his best against Hawkins but showed determination as he battled into the second round. Breaks of 50 and 58 helped him to a 3-1 lead. Hawkins took a scrappy fifth frame before Williams sealed victory in the next with runs of 47 and 40.

“I didn’t think I could win but I wanted to give it a go,” said 44-year-old Williams. “Barry struggled, probably because he saw me limping around the table and it put him off.

“A couple of days ago I couldn’t stick it. I was lying on the floor screaming. I have been on the tablets since Monday and now it is ten times better. The doctor says it should clear up within the next couple of days.”

Higgins Gains Confidence With Bingham Win

John Higgins saw off Stuart Bingham 4-2 to set up a match with Zhao Xintong. Four-time World Champion Higgins is currently ninth in the one-year rankings so every win is vital as he looks towards qualification for the second and third events in the Coral Series.

Wishaw’s Higgins took a scrappy opening frame then came from 40-0 down to win the second with a 60 clearance. Bingham took the third with a huge stroke of luck as he missed the final blue to a baulk corner but it came off three cushions and dropped into a centre pocket. The Masters champion made a 57 in the next as he recovered to 2-2.

Higgins regained the lead then Bingham looked set to make it 3-3 until he ran out of position leading 64-23 in the sixth. Higgins dropped an excellent pot on the third-last red into a centre pocket and cleared with 42 for victory.

“I’m delighted because I have lost deciding frames in the last two tournaments and it looked like going 3-3 today,” said 44-year-old Higgins. “There were nerves when I was clearing up because I haven’t won a lot of matches recently so I’m low on confidence. Even when the balls look easy, you can miss anything.”

Round-up

Kyren Wilson came from 2-0 down to beat Jack Lisowski 4-3, earning a match with Judd Trump on Thursday at 1pm.

Local favourite Lisowski, from Churchdown, started strongly with breaks of 63 and 88, then Wilson hit back to take the next three frames with a top run of 76. Lisowski made a 64 to level at 3-3 but was trapped in a tough snooker early in the decider and gave away 32 penalty points. Wilson then compiled a run of 52 which proved enough.

Zhao won a Chinese derby against Yan Bingtao 4-2. Breaks of 56, 103 and 77 helped Zhao reach the last 16 of a ranking event for the fifth time this season.

This was the situation on the table that cost Jack Lisowski 32 penalty points…

Lisowski WGP 2020, last 32 - tough snooker

Bingham played nowhere near the level that allowed him to win the Masters last month. A lot of top players really seem to struggle for consistency, but maybe in this case it’s a bit of “hangover”, combined with lack of match play (Bingham didn’t qualify for either of the “European” tournaments played earlier this year).

Barry Hawkins was plain awful. Mark Williams was in huge discomfort and often unable to find his usual stance on the shots. He had to use implements when he normally would not, and, at times, even needed to change his shot selection. All credits to him for playing and winning.

The evening session “offered” half of the last 16 matches.

You can read all about Ronnie’s win over Liang Wenbo here.

This is the short WST round up about the other last 16 matches played yesterday

Round-up

Dott’s progress was much more serene as he beat Xiao Guodong 4-0 with a top break of 67. Tom Ford was in fine form in a 4-2 win over Matthew Selt, knocking in breaks of 54, 97 and 73.

Ford now meets Gary Wilson, who overcame a pulled muscle in his back to beat Matthew Stevens 4-1 with top breaks of 53, 74 and 92. “I was struggling just to walk around the table,” said Crucible semi-finalist Wilson. “I just wanted to try to score quickly and get it over with. I was fortunate that Matthew missed a few.”

I didn’t see a thing, so can’t comment.

Just this though: Mark Williams suggested that, maybe, seeing him in pain and struggling was a factor in Barry’s poor performance and Ronnie said that seeing Liang seemingly struggle to deliver shots has put him off. In both cases it’s the expression of an empathy that you would never have found in Steve Davis or Stephen Hendry in their prime, and, strictly from a sporting point of view, it’s a weakness. Of course Ronnie is close friend with Liang. Neither Davis or Hendry would ever been friend with a fellow player when they were at their peak.