2020 World Grand Prix – Day 2 and a half…

At the time of writing, half-way through day 3, the last 32 round just concluded at the World Grand Prix in Milton Keynes.

Here are WST reports about yesterday’s action.

Afternoon session

Double-Ton Trump Survives Holt Test

Judd Trump fired centuries in the last two frames as he came from 3-2 down to beat Michael Holt 4-3 in the first round of the matchroom World Grand Prix.

Holt had a clear chance to knock out the world number one in frame six, but narrowly missed a tricky red on a break of 27, and that proved the key moment as Trump stepped up to the plate. He goes through to the last 16 to face Stuart Bingham.

Trump has already won two titles this season and looks to have shrugged off the disappointment of losing the Betway UK Championship final against Neil Robertson nine days ago.

But he was pushed to the limit today by world number 27 Holt, who compiled breaks of 136 and 78 to lead 3-2. If Holt had dropped a difficult red into a centre pocket in the sixth frame he might have gone on to win, but instead he had to watch Trump rattle in runs of 107 and 109 to book his second round place in Milton Keynes.

“It was a tough game from the start, he made things hard for me,” said Trump. “He had a chance at 3-2 and he was a bit unlucky. I had to dig deep and make two good breaks to finish it off. Michael can take a lot of credit for how he performed because I had to play my best to get over the line. He just needs to keep giving himself those chances and eventually he’ll break through.”

Masters champion Bingham came from 2-0 down to beat Li Hang 4-2 with breaks of 75, 62, 69 and 61.

China’s Ding Junhui looked at the peak of his powers as he whitewashed Jak Jones 4-0. After a run of 73 in the opening frame, Ding made a 137 in the second – the new front runner for the £10,000 high break prize.

Ding came from 48-0 to take the third frame, then in the fourth he potted ten reds with blacks before missing a mid-range pot on the 11th red on 80. He now meets Zhou Yuelong or Hossein Vafaei.

Lu Ning, a semi-finalist at the Betway UK Championship, edged out Robbie Williams 4-3 in a dramatic conclusion. China’s Lu, who made a 137 in frame five, trailed by 26 points on the green in the decider, but got the snooker he needed then cleared from brown to black to snatch victory.

Evening session

O’Sullivan Overcomes Fatigue To Beat Carter

Ronnie O’Sullivan admitted he felt “butchered and exhausted” after last week’s Scottish Open, but the Rocket recovered in time to beat Ali Carter 4-1 in the first round of the matchroom World Grand Prix.

O’Sullivan suffered a 9-3 reverse against Mark Selby in Sunday’s Scottish Open final and is now playing his sixth tournament within two months. The 45-year-old insists his powers of recovery are not as strong as they were in his younger days, but his array of skills remain intact and he outplayed Carter to set up a second round match with Barry Hawkins in Milton Keynes on Wednesday night.

WGPL32RonnievAliCarter-1World Champion O’Sullivan has now beaten Essex rival Carter in 15 of their 16 career meetings.

Carter started brightly with a break of 112 to take the opening frame, only for O’Sullivan to hit back with a 105 for 1-1. Frame three proved crucial as Carter, leading 52-44, missed the pink after potting the last red. His opponent punished him with a 20 clearance which included excellent pots on the blue and pink.

In the fourth, Carter was 38-57 down when he missed the last red along a side cushion with the rest, and again O’Sullivan took advantage to go 3-1 ahead. A run of 57 in the next saw world number three O’Sullivan past the finish line.

“Ali missed a lot of balls tonight, more than he usually would,” said O’Sullivan, who is yet to win a title this season. “When you are struggling at this game, your timing goes and anything is missable. It’s a confidence game – when you are confident you can attack the balls.

“Yesterday I was absolutely butchered, I felt exhausted. I don’t have the energy that I had years ago, I have noticed that whenever I reach a final it takes me two or three days to feel as if I want to do anything. After the World Championship it took ten days. I don’t have the stamina that I used to have, it takes me longer to recover.

“I am playing a few more tournaments this season but it’s better for me not to go deep in all of them, I can use 50 per cent of them for practice, to sharpen up for the tastier tournaments – the ones that get the juices flowing. One year I won everything and I was miserable because I was playing too many matches. The key for me is to stay fresh, stay hungry, enjoy my life and fit snooker in around my life.”

Looking ahead to his next match against Hawkins, O’Sullivan added: “Barry is a great cueist – if I could hit the ball half as well as him I would be over the moon. He is so consistent and so clinical with his technique. We have had some fantastic matches. The world final in 2013 (which O’Sullivan won 18-12) was as well as I can play, I was flying and I couldn’t shake him off. I will enjoy that match.”

Yan Bingtao beat David Grace 4-3 in a marathon battle which lasted three hours and 14 minutes. Grace came from 3-1 down to 3-3 and had a chance for victory in the decider, but in potting the green he lost position on the brown. A safety tussle on the blue was resolved when China’s Yan thumped home an excellent long pot to a baulk corner and he added the pink to seal the result.

Martin Gould made a tremendous comeback from 3-0 down to beat Mark Allen 4-3. World number ten Allen made a tournament-high break of 142 in taking the first three frames. But the match turned in the fourth when Gould fluked the final brown to get back to 3-1. The Londoner won two more scrappy frames for 3-3 then dominated the decider with runs of 43 and 59.

“I never felt involved in the match, I didn’t think I could win until the last ball,” admitted European Masters runner-up Gould, who now meets Lu Ning. “I was getting agitated with myself because I know how well  have been playing but I am not showing it on the match table. I told myself to knuckle down because Mark was missing a few so I knew I would get chances. Hopefully tomorrow I can come out all guns blazing and make some bigger breaks.”

A bit more about Ronnie;s win over Ali Carter here.

The WST report about the four remaining last 32 matches is not yet available, but here are the outcomes:

WGP 2020 - L32 last session outcome

The Mark Selby v Liang Wenbo match was a very high quality affair, featuring a 50+ break in every frame, but no century. I have to say, I like a century as much as any snooker fan, but in recent seasons there is too much focus on them. I have seen many winning breaks that weren’t centuries but were actually better breaks considering the situation in the match and on the table.

Hossein Vafaei came back from 3-2 down to beat Zhou Yuelong by 4-3. There wasn’t much between the players; Hossein was the more fluent of the two when in the balls, and, maybe, that made the difference in the end.

Jack Lisowski beat Shaun Murphy for the first time in six attempts. Shaun wasn’t at his best. He hasn’t been for some time now, as he can’t relly practice as much as he wants and needs to because of the covid related restrictions in Ireland. Jack had still to win that match though, and he did despite the usual unexpected mistakes here and there. Stephen HEndry was very critical of Jack’s decision to play some shots right-handed instead of using the rest, and, indeed, he missed a couple really badly.

I didn’t see much at all of the Zhao Xintong v Jamie Jones match, only the last balls of frame five and frame six. From what I saw though, I have the feeling that Zhao is maturing, playing at a slightly slower pace, giving his shots a bit more time and thoughs.

Here is the WST report about that afternoon session:

Murphy Bowled Over By Big Lisowski

Jack Lisowski was sick with food poisoning last week but gave himself the perfect tonic in the first round of the matchroom World Grand Prix, beating Shaun Murphy 4-2.

After a fine run to the quarter-finals of the Betway UK Championship, Lisowski was forced to pull out of the matchroom.live Scottish Open due to illness. But he was in rude health today in a fine performance against former World Champion Murphy. Lisowski now faces an intriguing last 16 clash against fellow Gloucestershire cueman and close friend Robert Milkins.

After sharing the first four frames, world number 15 Lisowski made an excellent 56 clearance to take the fifth. In frame six, Murphy was faced with a difficult safety shot on the last red, and missed the object ball twice, then on the third occasion left his opponent a mid-range pot. Lisowski, leading 59-43, thumped the red into a baulk corner and added the points he needed for victory.

“That was a big win for me because I had never beaten Shaun before,” said 29-year-old Lisowski. “When I was faced with the red in the last frame, I could have played safe, but my game is to go for them and it worked today.

“After the UK Championship I felt I had some momentum. Then last week I had a Thai meal and the next morning I was throwing up. I have never pulled out of a tournament before and I left it as late as possible but there was no way I could play so I had to withdraw. In a way it might have done me good because I have had a good break before this week’s tournament.

“It will be horrible playing Rob Milkins because he has been there for me for most of my career, he has looked after me. But for two hours he can’t be my mate because I want to get to the quarter-finals.”

Mark Selby is full of confidence having won the Scottish Open last week, and he won a high quality clash with Liang Wenbo by a 4-3 scoreline.

China’s Liang made breaks of 98, 79 and 90 in taking a 3-2 lead, but didn’t pot a ball in the last two frames as Selby fired runs of 94 and 75 to set up a second round match with Anthony McGill.

“It was a very good game from start to finish,” said world number four Selby, who finished the match with a 94% pot success rate. “At 3-2 down I was calm because I hadn’t done much wrong, he had punished me every time I had made a mistake.

“I have had two matches with Neil Robertson this season where I have lost having had 95% and 94% pot success rates, and it could have happened again today, but I managed to pay well in the last two frames. I have a lot of belief in myself having won the title last week.”

Iran’s top player Hossein Vafaei edged out Zhou Yuelong 4-3 with a crucial break of 62 in the decider, earning a tie with Ding Junhui. Zhao Xintong came from 2-1 down to beat Jamie Jones 4-2 with a top break of 61, setting up a match with John Higgins.


One thought on “2020 World Grand Prix – Day 2 and a half…

  1. I think quite a few players are coming into this a bit jaded. All of these players have had some recent success (that’s why they are here…) and have played some tense matches. Some of them are not used to such a schedule, which I think was the case with Zhou, Li and maybe Jamie Jones.

    I wouldn’t be too sure about Zhao Xintong. He has slowed his walk around the table, but many errors remain. He played some terrible shots in the first half of his match, but finished decently.

    It’s actually a very important match, with £7500 ranking points (the £5000 for losers doesn’t count towards rankings). That’s bigger than any World Championship qualifier matches. It will make a big difference for those non-elite players who managed to get through it, particularly if it elevates them into the Players’ Championship.

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