Here are WST reports on the last 16 round at the 2020 World Grand Prix
Ronnie O’Sullivan survived a mid-match wobble to beat Barry Hawkins 4-1 in the last 16 of the matchroom World Grand Prix, while Judd Trump came from 3-1 down to score a 4-3 win over Stuart Bingham.
O’Sullivan is still chasing his first title since becoming World Champion in August, having lost two finals this season. He’ll face Kyren Wilson in the quarter-finals on Thursday evening – a repeat of the Crucible final which O’Sullivan won 18-8.
A break of 108 gave O’Sullivan the opening frame tonight and he added the second for 2-0. An incident-packed third frame included a prolonged discussion between O’Sullivan and referee Ben Williams on the ‘three-miss’ rule. Hawkins later had a chance to snatch the frame on the colours but ran out of position on the final black, leading by seven points. O’Sullivan potted the black and went on to win the respotted black, slotting it into a centre pocket for 3-0.
In the fourth, O’Sullivan looked to be cruising past the winning line until he missed a straight-forward brown when leading 57-40. Hawkins pinched that frame and had chances in the fifth as his opponent seemed to lose focus. But 37-time ranking event winner O’Sullivan eventually regrouped and made an excellent 51 clearance.
“I don’t know what happened on the brown (in frame four),” admitted O’Sullivan. “I struggled to string pots together tonight. My bad game was just a bit better than Barry’s.”
World number one Trump has shown an exceptional level of consistency so far this season; this is his eighth tournament of the campaign and so far he has landed two titles, reached two further finals, two semi-finals and two quarter-finals.
He was in danger of a last-16 defeat tonight as Bingham made breaks of 57, 88 and 132 to lead 3-1. Trump took frame five with a 101 then got the better of a scrappy sixth for 3-3. In the decider, Bingham led 25-4 when he attempted a tricky pot on the pink to a centre pocket, and it hit the far jaw. Trump punished him with 61 to set up a quarter-final with Martin Gould.
“I was relieved to see him miss that pink in the last frame because if that had gone in it was game over,” admitted Trump. “I have lost two deciders recently so it was important to win that one. Stuart put me under pressure and I was pleased by the way I dealt with it. I am very proud of my record so far this season. I have lived up to the standards I set in the previous two seasons.”
Gould followed up last night’s win over Mark Allen with a 4-1 defeat of Lu Ning. Breaks of 76 and 70 helped Gould to a comfortable victory. Wilson saw off Yan Bingtao 4-1 with top runs of 63, 81 and 87.
Persian Prince Hopes To Inspire Snooker’s Growth
Iran’s top player Hossein Vafaei scored a superb 4-1 win over Ding Junhui in the last 16 of the matchroom World Grand Prix and believes his success can stimulate snooker’s development in his home country.
Vafaei became the first Iranian professional player when he competed on the tour in 2015, and has since been joined by Soheil Vahedi. In recent seasons 26-year-old Vafaei has had considerable success, reaching three ranking event semi-finals and climbing to 37th in the world.
“I played really well today, I found my game,” said Vafaei, who now meets Mark Selby in the quarter-finals. “Ding is such a star in China, I really respect him. A lot of people are going to be sad tonight but I’m a fan of his as well. I like to play on the big stage in the big tournaments. It’s all about confidence. I lost in the first round of seven tournaments in a row last season, I was struggling. I’m delighted to get back on track.
Asked what the impact would be in Iran if he won a first ranking title, Vafaei replied: “You can’t imagine what would happen! So many people are following me. Snooker is a new sport in Iran so it needs time to grow there. When I win it’s a story in the newspapers and people will follow it more. If I lose, snooker is never going to grow. I have to keep winning to open a new market for the sport and the players. No one in Iran wants me to lose. We are good at sport there, people support us. They love me to play well.”
Selby continued his quest to win a second consecutive ranking title as he beat Anthony McGill 4-2. Leicester’s Selby thrashed Ronnie O’Sullivan 9-3 in the final of the Matchroom.Live Scottish Open last Sunday and has carried on his momentum. In the eight frames he has won this week, he has made a century and seven more breaks over 50.
Runs of 134 and 58 helped put him 2-0 ahead of McGill, then his opponent fought back to 2-2 with 87 and 128. World number four Selby responded with 86 and 91 to reach the last eight.
Four-time World Champion John Higgins suffered a 4-3 reverse against up-and-coming Chinese potter Zhao Xintong. Breaks of 111 and 137 helped give Zhao a 3-1 lead, then he missed match ball twice in frame five and that opened a window for Higgins to battle back to 3-3.
The decider came down to the last red, and Zhao slotted a tremendous long pot into a top corner, before clearing to the pink for victory.
“John missed a lot of easy balls and that gave me chances,” said 23-year-old Zhao. “I should have won 4-1 but I got nervous in the fifth frame. I told myself ‘no problem’ and still thought I could win. I played well in the last frame. Every time I win a match I have more confidence in the next one. I believe that I can win a tournament but I need to work hard.”
Zhao now faces Jack Lisowski, who got the better of a Gloucestershire derby against Robert Milkins, winning 4-0. After taking a scrappy opening frame, Lisowski rattled through the last three in just 32 minutes, making breaks of 130, 127 and 56.
I watched the Lisowski v Milkins match. Both players had expressed their emotional discomfort coming into the match. Robert Milkins has been a kind of “snooker father’s figure” for Jack since he was a young child. Jack handled it better than Robert. He played really well. Jack is marvellous to watch when on song. I hope that Robert, who is a nice down-to-earth bloke, whose life has not always been easy, can at least find some solace and pride in Jack’s good performances and ascension to the top 16. He’s played his part in that success.
Snooker ace Robert Milkins reveals that victory against Neil Robertson was best ever
THE first-round victory over the 2010 World champion in Sheffield is the highlight of a remarkable turnaround in the life and career of Milkins.
ROBERT Milkins secured “the biggest win of his career” last night – a stunning 10-8 success against Neil Robertson at the Betfair World Championship.
The first-round victory over the 2010 World champion in Sheffield is the highlight of a remarkable turnaround in the life and career of Milkins.
The Gloucester potter, 37, was in the gutter six years ago before friends took him in and rescued the player from sliding into further turmoil.
Since then, the man who beat Jimmy White to earn a first appearance in Sheffield since 2005 has sorted out his personal problems and is now at a career-best 19th in the world rankings.
Speaking after his victory Milkins revealed that being happy at home again has played a key role in his transformation.
He said: “It doesn’t get much better than that. I’m ecstatic, chuffed to bits.
“By far that’s the biggest win of my career. Neil is such a tough player to beat. If he gets on top of you he’s very hard to beat.
“I didn’t feel great in the last session but he was under pressure to do well this year. It was hard work, so to win was quite a relief.
“I’m just happy with life. I’ve got two great kids, a great missus, a great coach and a great manager. I don’t need anything else in life. I was £30,000 in debt, going to the pub every day and I was just going down in the gutter a few years ago, so to be here now is amazing.
“I lost my mum, my dad and I got divorced. It blew me apart. I didn’t get any help at the time.
“But to be here and playing so well, it feels great.
“I’ve always known I’ve had the ability but it’s been about finding consistency. My bad isn’t as bad as it used to be.”
Robertson said: “It was a bad day at the office but I’ve had worst defeats. You can’t take anything away from Robert because he played fantastic.”