It was QFs day in Cardiff yesterday, and one that provided very pleasing results, at least for me.
Ronnie O’Sullivan produced a sublime performance to beat Mark Selby 5-1 and reach the semi-finals of the ManBetX Welsh Open in Cardiff.
Victory for O’Sullivan crucially moves him into 16thposition on the live one-year money list. That means that as things stand he is set to edge into the upcoming Players Championship. The top 16 at the end of next week’s Shoot Out will earn a spot.
Today’s win also enhances O’Sullivan’s head-to-head record in his momentous rivalry with Selby, which has included Masters, UK Championship and World Championship finals. The Rocket is now 15-10 ahead in contests between the pair.
Selby can reflect on his defeat with the knowledge that he still made Home Nations history this season. The Jester from Leicester became the first player to win two events in a single campaign, with victories at the English and Scottish Opens.
O’Sullivan produced spellbinding snooker to storm into a 4-0 advantage at the mid-session. He compiled breaks of 142, 95 and 85 to rapidly move to the verge of victory.
Selby kept himself in the tie by edging a narrow fifth frame. He was first in again in the next, but cruelly went in-off to afford O’Sullivan an opportunity to close out the match. He left Selby needing snookers, which he got. However, a second stroke of hard luck saw Selby go in-off in an attempt to develop the green. O’Sullivan made no mistake from there and secured victory.
O’Sullivan said: “I tried to take the game to Mark as much as I could and be prepared for a battle. It is always hard against Mark and he never makes it easy for you.
“I got off to a good start and managed to get amongst the balls and score some good breaks. I came out after the interval and it started to go itsy bitsy. I kept saying to myself that if I managed to find one good frame I should be fine.
“I enjoyed the match. It was tough and I haven’t faced players of Mark’s calibre regularly. It was a test for me to see where I was, so it was nice to come out on top today.”
O’Sullivan’s semi-final opponent will be Kyren Wilson, who recorded an impressive 5-0 whitewash victory against 18-time ranking event winner Neil Robertson.
The result acts as revenge for Wilson, who suffered a 6-4 defeat to Robertson in the semi-finals of last week’s World Grand Prix.
Defeat for Robertson ends a brilliant run of consecutive final appearances. He lifted the title at the European Masters and the World Grand Prix and was runner-up at the German Masters.
The evening action saw 2005 Crucible king Shaun Murphy defeat World Champion Judd Trump 5-3 to secure his spot in the last four.
It’s a second consecutive victory for Murphy against Trump, following a 6-3 win in the first round of the Masters in January.
He will face Chinese teenager Yan Bingtao in the semis. Yan beat four-time World Champion John Higgins 5-2 to secure his place.
Kyren Wilson played well to beat Neil Robertson, but the latter had nothing left in the tank. He might not have felt physical tiredness, but he ran out of mental resources. Every time a player says he’s fatigued, there are people on social media coming up with “how would they feel if they had to dig holes, built roads, or move heavy bulks”. These remarks just show that those who make them have no understanding of how much sustained concentration under pressure can take out of a person. Neil spoke to Rachel from ES after the match, saying that he colud not “get up for it” and basically “felt nothing”. That’s what mental faigue does to you. You can hear Neil here (ES afternoon session review)
Shaun Murphy played very well to beat Judd Trump. Since he’s practising with Fergal O’Brien, he’s massively improved in the safety department and it was key to yesterday’s win. The way he won frame four, from 70 points behind, was definitely very significant. If you didn’t see the match, here is that key frame:
Judd was the heaviest scorer, he had two centuries and two other 50+ breaks, but he lost. Just as he had in the 2020 Masters, despite making three centuries that time. I like a century as much as anybody else, but I feel that there is now far too much emphasis on them nowadays. They only win you one frame.
I haven’t watched the match between Yan Bingtao (yet), but I’m very pleased with the result. Going by the frames scores, Yan’s breakbuilding is in good shape, but there is more. He managed to steal the last frame from way behind, after Higgins had a break of 51. It wasn’t straightforward: there was one red on the side cushion above the left middle pocket (as we see it on TV).
Here are the highlights of this match:
It’s a pity that we don’t have some quotes by Yan after his win.