This one will be short.
Here are the reports about what happened yesterday.
Defending champion Judd Trump booked his place in the semi-finals of the Matchroom.Live Northern Ireland Open with an emphatic 5-1 defeat of Scott Donaldson.
World number one Trump is seeking a third consecutive Northern Ireland Open title this week, that would make him the first person to achieve the feat in a ranking event since Stephen Hendry at the 1996 UK Championship.
Both of the last two years have seen Trump defeat now World Champion Ronnie O’Sullivan in the final 9-7. The pair remain on a potential collision course for the final this week, with the Rocket meeting Ding Junhui in a blockbuster quarter-final this evening.
Despite suffering defeat, Donaldson exits the event having maintained his impressive consistency over the last few years. Today’s match was his ninth ranking quarter-final appearance since his first, back in 2017. However, he is still in search of maiden ranking silverware.
The pair took just under an hour and a half to contest an edgy first three frames, where Trump battled to establish a 2-1 advantage. From there he took full control of the tie, firing in a fine break of 112 to head into the mid-session 3-1 ahead.
When they returned Trump wasted little time in getting over the line, breaks of 52 and 86 helped him to wrap up the 5-1 win. Trump now faces either Yan Bingtao or David Grace in tomorrow’s semi-finals.
“It took me a while to get used to the table, which had been re-clothed overnight. It was playing a little bit different. It was probably the best conditions we have played on all season,” said 31-year-old Trump. “There are going to be a lot of high breaks from this point on. The table is playing beautifully. It is nice to still be in the tournament and potting balls with a chance to defend my title.
“I just want to win as many matches and as many titles as I can and compete in these big events. It is nice that Ronnie is still in, I want to play him in another final. It would be amazing to play him in another final again in the Northern Ireland Open.
“It would be very special if I won for the third year in a row. If you look back at the greats, Stephen Hendry, Steve Davis and Ronnie O’Sullivan, you see a long list of years when they are winning events in a row and you see their dominance. If you are winning events two or three years in a row, you are stamping your authority on the game.”
Essex cueman Ali Carter defeated Norwegian number one Kurt Maflin 5-3 to book his place in the semi-finals.
This week’s run is a timely one for world number 19 Carter, who remains in the hunt for Masters qualification. Carter, who reached the final of this year’s Masters in January, came into this week having not been beyond the second round this season.
After trailing 2-0, the Captain managed to go up a gear and claimed five of the next six frames to earn a hard fought victory. The four-time ranking event winner top scored with a run of 91.
Carter said: “You have to win four best of seven matches to get to the quarter-finals. The last thing you want to do at that stage is go home. You feel like you are in touching distance and that you have done so much hard work to get there. That brings its own pressure. It is tough out there, so I am pleased to get through.
“I came here with zero confidence and having hardly won a match all year. I didn’t particularly, in the nicest possible way, want to be here. Life is tough for everyone at the moment. If you come away and you are in a low ebb, then it is easy to get in a rut and a big black hole. I gave myself a good talking to and said I had to turn this around. To be in the semis is great.”
Scott Donaldson looked all at sea on the television table. He can play better than that.
O’Sullivan Sets Up Carter Clash
World Champion Ronnie O’Sullivan beat Ding Junhui 5-2 to set up an intriguing semi-final with Ali Carter at the Matchroom.Live Northern Ireland Open.
O’Sullivan, winner of a record 37 ranking titles, will compete in the semi-finals of a ranking event for the 78th time tomorrow.
It will be the first time the Rocket has faced Carter since their fiery World Championship encounter in 2018. On that occasion, the pair exchanged a shoulder barge and tense words, as Carter secured a 13-9 win.
Today’s victory for 44-year-old O’Sullivan extends his head-to-head advantage over China’s number one Ding to 15-4. Ding will now turn his attentions to the defence of his UK Championship title, which gets underway next week.
It was Ding who flew out of the blocks this evening. Asia’s top cueman fired in breaks of 121 and 87 to charge into an early 2-0 advantage.
However, at that point Ding started missing opportunities and O’Sullivan opportunistically capitalised. Runs of 59 and 58 saw him head into the mid-session interval level at 2-2.
When they returned he claimed a further three frames on the bounce, making runs of 70 and 79 in the process, to emerge a 5-2 victor.
Following the match O’Sullivan denied apologising to Carter in the aftermath of their 2018 World Championship clash, or to Mark Allen after they exchanged words in the arena at the recent Champion of Champions.
O’Sullivan said: “I didn’t apologise to Ali and I didn’t apologise to Mark Allen either. I just said, ‘look, let’s move on, let’s not hold any grudges’. It is what it is. I still feel I was right on both occasions. That apology they say I said, definitely wasn’t one. It was more like saying to move on. It doesn’t really matter. I will see you around tournaments and you will see me, we might as well say hello to each other.
“At one point in this evening’s match I’d have been happy just to get a frame. He went off the boil and that allowed me to get back in the game. I just picked up bits and pieces, tried to stay solid and capitalise on any chances I got.
“You just have to win as many frames as you can and try not to lose frames. You have to keep your head down and not look for the winning line. I make it hard for myself. I missed a few balls early on and left him in. I don’t pot as well as I used to. I missed a few balls, but that is a natural thing as you get older.”
World number 67 David Grace reached his second ever ranking event semi-final with a 5-2 defeat of world number 13 Yan Bingtao.
Grace appeared his maiden ranking semi-final in an epic run at the 2015 UK Championship, but fell off the tour three years later. He regained his professional status at the beginning of the 19/20 season thanks to his performances on the Challenge Tour.
Following an edgy start to this evening’s match, the pair found themselves locked level at 2-2. However, Grace mounted a fearless charge for the finishing line when play resumed. The Yorkshire cueman composed breaks of 70, 59 and 104 to secure the momentous victory. He will now face world number one and defending champion Judd Trump.
“It feels absolutely brilliant. I was really nervous at the start, I just couldn’t settle down. Every time I got something going, I would miss a complete sitter. I dragged him down to my level really, he struggled,” said 35-year-old Grace. “You put in the hard hours in the club, grafting away in qualifiers scraping wins here and there for moments like this.
“What have I got to lose? He (Judd Trump) is winning everything these days. He hasn’t lost in this tournament for about ten years! I’ve got absolutely nothing to lose.”
I didn’t expect David Grace to win, but I’m happy for him. He’s a lovely person and someone who does a lot for grassroots snooker.