The 2020 English Open semi-finals line-up features the World numbers 1,3,4 and 7 … that’s the “lottery” of the short formats for you.
Here are the WST reports about how we got there:
Selby And Higgins Into Semis
Mark Selby remains on course to become the first player in 30 years to win the first two ranking titles of the season as he beat Zhou Yuelong 5-2 to reach the semi-finals of the Matchroom.Live English Open.
John Higgins, chasing his first ranking title in 31 months, also eased into the last four as he saw off Jak Jones 5-1
Not since Stephen Hendry landed the first four ranking titles of the 1990/91 season has any player taken the first two. Having won last month’s BetVictor European Masters, Selby is the man in form and is just two wins away from another trophy. He will face Neil Robertson or Robbie Williams in the semi-finals on Saturday.
The Leicester cueman had won his previous three matches in Milton Keynes by a 4-3 scoreline, but today’s victory was more comfortable.
After sharing the first two frames, China’s Zhou made an excellent 51 clearance to lead 2-1. World number four Selby dominated the next two frames, making breaks of 72, 52 and 48 to lead 3-2.
Zhou had a chance to win frame six but missed a short range brown, from a tight angle, to a centre pocket when he trailed 43-34. He later played a loose safety on the brown and Selby punished him to go 4-2 ahead. The Englishman sealed the result in frame seven with a run of 56.
“I didn’t play great today but I’m happy to win,” said 37-year-old Selby. “The bit of luck you need seems to be with me this week. It would great to win the first two ranking events this season, the fact that it hasn’t been done for 30 years shows how tough snooker is.”
Higgins ‘Desperate’ To End Drought
Four-time World Champion Higgins was far too strong for Jones, who was competing in the quarter-finals of a ranking event for the first time. World number seven Higgins now meets Judd Trump or Kyren Wilson.
Scotland’s Higgins won his 30th and most recent ranking title at the 2018 Welsh Open – though he has reached the World Championship final twice since then. Swapping to a titanium ferrule and a different brand of chalk has given him a fresh dose of enthusiasm and he has dropped just five frames in five matches so far this week.
“Jak struggled today and I picked up the pieces,” said 45-year-old Higgins, through to his 74th ranking event semi-final. “I am desperate to win a tournament because for the last couple of years I’ve watched other players taking the trophies. I feel good about my game. If the ball is going where you want it to go, that’s half the battle.”
It’s astonishing really that it’s been 30 years since a player won the first two ranking events of a season, Actually Ronnie came close to it in 2008/09, when, as the reigning World Champion, he won the last instaltment of the Northern Ireland Trophy, beating Dave Harold in the final, then lost to Ricky Walden in the Shanghai Masters final.
Ronnie was in the ES “studio” and made a few interesting points.
Asked if Jak Jones stood any chance, he answered that he doubted it, not because of Jak lack of ability, but because it would be the first time for him on the main table. He explained that the main table, under the television lights plays very differently to the side tables. It’s hotter under the lights and the cloth plays faster. The lightimg is stronger, which requires some adjustement when aiming if you aren’t used to it. He said that those players who have next to none opportunity to play in those conditions, should be given the opportunity to get a couple of hours of practice on the main table before their match.
Three-Ton Thunder Storms Into Last Four
Neil Robertson blasted three centuries as he beat Robbie Williams 5-2 to take his place in a fabulous semi-final line-up at the Matchroom.Live English Open.
Robertson will take on Mark Selby on Saturday afternoon, then in the evening John Higgins will meet world number one Judd Trump, who saw off Kyren Wilson 5-1. The four remaining players in Milton Keynes have 83 ranking titles between them, and they have all completed the Triple Crown.
After losing the opening frame tonight, Australia’s Robertson picked up the pace with breaks of 56, 87 and 140 to lead 3-1 at the interval. His opponent took frame five on the pink, but world number three Robertson rattled in 100 and 133 to finish in style.
“That was awesome, it’s so enjoyable to play like that,” said Robertson. “I lost a tight frame to go 3-2 and that could have been a turning point but then it was a great way to finish. It was also nice to go ahead of Joe Perry for the (£5,000) high break prize because he’d had a 139 – he texted me at the interval but I can’t say what he wrote!
“It’s an unbelievable semi-final line-up because we have all won a lot of tournaments in recent years. It will be an amazing day for the fans watching on TV.”
World number one Trump was far from his best tonight but scored a 5-1 win over an out-of-sorts Wilson. It was a small measure of revenge for Bristol’s Trump who lost to the same opponent in the quarter-finals at the Crucible in August.
Bristol’s Trump made 56 and 53 in taking a 2-0 lead before Wilson pulled one back with an 84. A run of 112 put Trump 3-1 ahead and he got the better of a safety battle on the last red in frame five to extend his lead. The sixth lasted just eight minutes as Trump fired a break of 101.
“It was a strange game, I made some good breaks but I felt edgy,” admitted Trump. “Kyren gave it to me really, he was well below his usual level and he missed more long pots than he would usually miss in a season. I went into my shell a bit, I got too negative waiting for chances. I’ll have to be more positive tomorrow and play better because John is close to his best.
“Kyren has got the dedication, determination and hunger to be around for a long time so we’re going to play beach other a lot. We both enjoy the challenge, there’s a bit of rivalry and we both want to win badly. The next time we play he’ll be trying to turn it up a notch and beat me.”
It may be just a feeling, but it seems to me that most players have displayed little consistency all week. We have had the odd brilliant performance, but for most of it, they have not been at their best. That’s probably because of the Covid-19 crisis, they are not able to stick to their usual practice regimen and routine. Practice opportunities at the venue have been limited.