The last 128 round at the UK championship was completed yesterday, with all of the top 16 players through.
World number one Judd Trump defeated Paul Davison 6-1 to complete clean sweep of wins for the world’s top 16 in the opening round of Betway UK Championship in Milton Keynes.
The Ace in the Pack is coming fresh off a superb win over Ronnie O’Sullivan in the final of last week’s Northern Ireland Open. Remarkably that was the third consecutive year Trump has beaten O’Sullivan in the final of that event, each one by a 9-7 scoreline.
Triple Crown winner Trump secured his one and only UK title so far in 2011, beating Mark Allen in the final. However, since being runner-up in 2014, Trump has failed to go beyond the last 16.
Despite scoreboard difficulties causing delays to play in the opening stages, 19-time ranking event winner Trump was undeterred as he made light work of this evening’s encounter. The 2019 World Champion made breaks of 85, 54, 55, 75, 54, 72 and 103 on his way to the win.
Next up Trump faces an intriguing second round clash with Welsh two-time ranking event winner Dominic Dale.
“There were a lot of breaks and a lot of one visit frames. I felt comfortable in amongst the balls,” said 31-year-old Trump. “It is always difficult in the last day of the first round. There has been a lot of play on the table. The first round is all about getting through and avoiding that potential banana skin.
“It is a tough second round game. It was one of the tougher draws in the second round. He is a player that thrives on the atmosphere and thrives on these big events. I think it will be a hard game. I will have to play some good snooker, like I did against Ronnie, like I did at the end there in that match. I have to score heavy and try and keep him out.”
Former Indian Open winner Matthew Selt produced a phenomenal display to demolish Moroccan number one Amine Amiri 6-0.
Englishman Selt becomes only the third player, after Fergal O’Brien and Judd Trump, to compose five centuries in a best of 11 match. His barrage of centuries consisted of breaks of 138, 131, 100, 111 and 102.
Selt said: “It feels really nice to go on a break building rampage, if you want to call it that. I’ve not really had that many centuries in my career. To add five to the tally in one game, I’m delighted with the breaks that I’ve made.
“I’ve not left my mark on the game, I probably won’t do by the time my career is finished. So it is great to have something in the record books that can’t be taken away like that. I hope someone doesn’t make six this week, Ronnie probably will do, or Judd who could probably make seven in a best of 11! It is nice to get my name etched in somewhere, just for my own personal satisfaction as well.”
Defending champion Ding Junhui eased into the second round with a 6-1 defeat of Jamie Curtis-Barrett.
China’s number one cueman Ding lifted the title 12 months ago in York with a 10-6 defeat of Stephen Maguire in the final. Next up in his quest to retain the crown is former UK Championship semi-finalist David Grace.
Jack Lisowski moved into the top 16 in the race to the Masters with an emphatic 6-2 win over Farakh Ajaib. That means Gary Wilson can no longer qualify for the showpiece 16-player event, with the cut off coming at the end of the UK Championship.
Lisowski made breaks of 74, 84, 100, 132 and 75 on his way to victory. Up next he faces Tian Pengfei.
Switzerland’s Alexander Ursenbacher beat Nigel Bond 6-3 to set up a second round meeting with World Champion Ronnie O’Sullivan, while Kurt Maflin came from 3-0 down to beat Aaron Hill 6-3.
I can’t say that I enjoyed watching the snooker yesterday.
Mark Allen made three big breaks on the television table but was pretty poor actually. His opponent, the 17 years old Jamie Wilson, was struggling to make any telling break despite getting a lot of occasions. After qualifying for the main tour, young Jamie said this to the press:
“I would love to play Ronnie, it would be a great experience and it would be even better to beat him because of all the stuff he says about amateurs. I used to follow Ronnie but I’m more of a Judd Trump fan now.”
He has now played 10 matches in professional competition, won none; he has played 46 frames, and won just 10. That’s where he is, nowhere near the level required to play on the main tour. This is NOT his fault. For a number of reasons, the amateur game has shrinked, there aren’t many pro-ams to play in anymore and the brutal flat draw model offers no path for smooth development for the rookies on the tour. I’m NOT having a go at Jamie, I’m sorry for him and the other kids thrown into the pro game when they aren’t ready. There is absolutely no reason why there would be less talent in the current generation than in the past ones, there surely are talented kids around, and Jamie certainly has talent. But talent needs to be nurtured, not crushed. End of rant … (until next time).
Ding was poor as well, except for the 130 he made in frame 6. It was another painful match to watch. Jamie Curtis-Barrett looked utterly miserable struggling out there. Of course, he is no kid, he’s 36, a single father, having lost his wife to illness. Playing snooker is probably his way of “evading” the day to day difficulties, his own informed choice … but I doubt that he enjoyed it yesterday. I didn’t.
As for Matt Selt’s fireworks … they came against poor Amine Amiri. Giving Amine a tour card was a sad joke, and he is the main victim of it. He tries his heart out, he even manages to smile out there. It’s all well to try to promote snooker in countries where the sport isn’t that well developed, but not this way. Offer the guy a scholarship, make him play on the challenge tour, give him a proper chance to progress. Matt’s five centuries had to be made, and he deserves praise for them, but he was probably helped a bit by the knowledge that he was unlikely to be punished should he make a mistake.
Eventually I gave the evening session a miss … I love my snooker, but not this way.
Coming back to the WST report, it’s a good, mature, interview there by Alex Ursenbacher, well worth listening to.