Day 10 brought the last 16 round to a conclusion and delivered this high quality quarter-finals line-up:
Judd Trump v Kyren Wilson
Kurt Maflin v Anthony McGill
Mark Williams v Ronnie O’Sullivan
Mark Selby v Neil Robertson
Remarkably, we have six of the top 8 seeds still in this draw, and five former World Champions. We are also certain to have a member of the “Class of 92” in the semi-finals
This is how we got there (reports by WST)
Kyren Wilson completed a 13-9 victory over Martin Gould to reach the quarter-finals of the Betfred World Championship for a fifth consecutive year.
Wilson led 11-5 going into the concluding session then had some anxious moments as Gould recovered to 11-8. The session turned in frame 20 when Wilson got the three snookers he needed and cleared for 12-8 – a moment which effectively ended Gould’s resistance. Over the match, Wilson made two centuries and ten more breaks over 50.
The Kettering cueman’s reward is a meeting with defending champion Judd Trump on Monday and Tuesday. It will be a first Crucible clash between two of snooker’s finest young talents. Their last match was at the Gibraltar Open final in March when Trump won 4-3 to land his sixth ranking title of the season.
Since he first reached the quarter-finals in 2016, Wilson has shown a high level of consistency at the Crucible, getting to the same stage every year since, and going one step further to the semi-finals in 2018. After a fine performance against Gould, the 28-year-old will relish the chance to end Trump’s reign.
Qualifier Gould took the first frame today with a break of 58 and the second in two scoring visits. Wilson made 52 in the next but couldn’t seal the frame and his opponent took it with a 49 clearance to close to 11-8.
Gould looked certain to reduce the deficit further until he missed a red with the rest to a top corner at 68-0. Wilson trailed by 46 points on the last red, then got one snooker and laid another. Calamity struck for Gould as he missed the red, hit the black and left a free ball, allowing Wilson to clear with 41.
Gould pulled one more back after the interval with a run of 73 for 12-9, but when he missed a red to a centre pocket on 12 in frame 22, it proved his last shot as Wilson wrapped up victory with a break of 79.
“The frame to go 12-8 was so important,” said Wilson. “They are the frames where you find out whether you are sharp enough to take out that clearance. I was very pleased to steady myself and do that. I remember being 11-5 up against Mark Allen here (in 2016) and he came back to 11-9, so when it went 11-8 today those horrible nightmares were flooding back.
“I felt too relaxed today, there were no nerves and I actually like to have a bit of adrenaline pumping because that’s when I produce my best snooker. At 11-5 I took my foot off the gas. Now I’m in the quarter-finals and if you can’t get up for that there’s something wrong with you.
“I use Judd as a benchmark and I want to achieve what he has done. It makes me ask myself what I have to do to get there, and obviously one of those things is to beat players like him. You have to beat the best players to win the big events.”
On losing the crucial 20th frame from ahead, Gould said: “It’s not the first time and not the last time you will see a frame lost from that position. I just had to take it on the chin and try to get back into the game again. I did and made a good break to go 12-9, but he made a good break in the last. The damage was done yesterday, I didn’t really turn up and didn’t really get into the game. I’m pleased with the effort that I put in today.
“As I’ve said before, if this had been played in April, then I wouldn’t be sat here right now. There are a huge amount of positives to take from it. I will look forward to the Championship League. I’ll probably get the golf clubs back out, enjoy some of the weather and then hit the practice table to get ready for the new season.”
Martin Gould deserves huge credit for the way he fougth back.
Neil Robertson feels that good shot selection will be crucial to his chances of coming through a tough draw at the Betfred World Championship, having beaten Barry Hawkins 13-9 in a high quality second round match.
Hawkins was a dangerous opponent for Robertson as early as the last 16, and the contest featured five centuries and 11 more breaks over 50. But the Australian grew stronger at the business end as he booked his eighth Crucible quarter-final. He has reached the final just once – when he won the title in 2010 – but with three titles under his belt already this season, the 38-year-old looks to have the form and belief to go all the way.
World number two Robertson made a fast start today, winning three frames in a row with top breaks of 59, 42 and 50 to go 11-8 ahead. Hawkins pulled one back with a 104 to stay in touch. But after the interval Robertson regained the momentum with a run of 79 to go 12-9 ahead.
In frame 22, Hawkins had a chance to clear from 61-4 down, and got to the last red but then missed a tough pot along the side cushion with the rest. Robertson potted red and black to secure his place in the next round.
His only previous Crucible meeting with Selby came in the semi-finals in 2014 when Selby won a classic contest 17-15.
“When the draw came out, everyone could see how stacked the bottom half was, and then I got Liang Wenbo in the first round as well,” said Robertson. “Barry in the second round is very tough. My shot selection had to be spot on.
“I have used too many excuses in the past where I thought bad luck went against me. The best way to combat that was good shot selection. I could have been 10-6 down going into the last session, it was good discipline and choice of shots which helped me nick a couple of frames and make it 8-8.
“Then in the last session today I felt I could attack the match and get to the finish line. To compare it to cricket, sometimes you need to make a crucial 40 off your first 120 balls before you can start attacking. Snooker is the same – playing rash shots can really cost you.
“It has been a brilliant season for me, then the break came at a good time because I could work on my fitness. In every frame against Barry I felt fantastic, so that work has paid dividends.”
Robertson and Selby shared a flat together when the former first lived in England as a teenager, and they have remained friends ever since. “Mark and I have got great respect for each other,” Robertson added. “We get along well, we have known each other for 20 years. We have won over 40 tournaments between us – he has got three world titles so he shades it for now! I always enjoy playing him and we tend to bring the best out of each other.”
Hawkins said: “I think it was a good match overall. I really enjoyed it. I gave it my all and that is all you can ask for. I made a few unforgivable safety errors today and I was punished big time.
“I’m happy with my new cue, that I’ve been using it for about a month now. There were a couple of shots that caught me out, safety shots with side were throwing off a bit differently. After a month I should be used to that, so I can’t use it as an excuse. I’m looking forward to carrying on with my fitness, practising hard and dedicating myself again.”
World number 89 Jamie Clarke came agonisingly close to reaching the quarter-finals of the Betfred World Championship but lost 13-12 to Anthony McGill in one of the Crucible’s most incident-packed matches of recent years.
The match will be remembered for a heated exchange between the two players during the second session, as McGill felt that Clarke was standing in his eyeline on certain shots. Clarke then seemed to stir the ill feeling by tweeting ‘You want to dance, let’s dance’ during the mid-session interval. The tension was palpable for much of the final session. After the contest the two players, overcome with emotion, embraced in a dressing room backstage.
There was just as much drama on the baize in a gripping contest which finished after midnight. McGill must now regroup as, when the dust settles, he faces a quarter-final against fellow qualifier Kurt Maflin. It will be his second appearance in the last eight, having reached the same stage on his 2015 debut.
Welshman Clarke, who needed to win three qualifying matches to keep his place on the pro tour, would have been the lowest ranked Crucible quarter-finalist since Lee Walker in 1997. He can only wonder what might have been during the long drive back to Llanelli, though he can reflect on a tremendous run which included a first round win over Mark Allen.
McGill took the opening frame of the concluding session with a top break of 58 to level at 8-8. The next lasted 48 minutes and came down to a long battle on the colours, Clarke eventually potting the blue to win his first frame since he led 8-2. Glasgow’s McGill took frame 18, then Clarke’s run of 73 gave him a 10-9 lead at the interval.
Runs of 40 and 78 from McGill put him ahead for the first time in the match at 11-10. Clarke made a 64 in the next to level the tie, then in frame 23 he got the better of a safety tussle on the yellow and cleared to the blue to lead 12-11.
Clarke looked to be cruising over the winning line in frame 24 until he missed a straight-forward pink on 55, just two pots short of victory. McGill cleared to the final black before failing to pot it along the baulk cushion. A safety exchange ended when McGill slotted the black into a baulk corner for 12-12.
Both players had chances in the decider and it came down to a safety exchange on the last red. Clarke, trailing 67-42, accidentally flicked the yellow when attempting a thin clip on the red, and left a free ball. That let McGill in to add 14 points which was enough for victory.
“I can’t believe I won that match,” said 29-year-old McGill. “Especially considering the position he was in at 12-11 when he missed the pink. My scoring wasn’t there, I felt like I only had about three breaks in the whole match. The only reason I won was that I tried as hard as I could. I’m going to need to pull something out of the bag in my next match.”
Asked about his exchanges with his opponent in the arena, McGill said: “During the first session, there were three or four shots where I was shooting down towards the black end in safety battles and Jamie was standing in my eyeline. I told myself to forget about it because he probably didn’t mean to.
“But I decided that if it continued in the second session I would ask him if he would mind sitting down or standing behind me. A shot like that came up and I asked him politely if he wouldn’t mind sitting down, because it is distracting when someone is standing up and you can see him. He took it the wrong way and it blew into a massive thing, when it should have been resolved in about three seconds.
“I didn’t have any intentions at all behind it. I know people are saying I was trying to unnerve him, but that’s not the type of game I play, you can ask any professional player. A lot of people might not rate me as a player, but nobody can say anything about my conduct at the table when it comes to sportsmanship.”
Clarke, age 25, said: “Anthony held himself together, he deserves a medal for the clearance he made to go 12-12. All credit to him. I said well done to him afterwards because he deserved to win. I missed the pink and I’m sure that’s what people will remind me about.
“I have got nothing against Anthony. I have been tweeting since the first match in the qualifiers and I don’t think there’s a problem with it. I’ll do the same in future, that’s who I am. There are much worse things going on in the world. Even though I lost 13-12 I am very proud of myself. There’s a lot of tension out there and you have to take the rough with the smooth. It has been an immense experience.”
This was a thriller but I still missed the conclusion. I’m afraid I fell asleep … it was past 2 am where I am when the match finished.