There was only one match yesterday, the second semi-final of this tournament, and, to me, it brought the biggest surprise of the week so far: Jack Lisowski beat Mark Selby and will play Judd Trump in the Final today.
Lisowski Beats Selby To Earn Trump Final
Jack Lisowski described his 6-4 win over Mark Selby as the best performance of his career as he set up a final clash with Judd Trump at the matchroom World Grand Prix.
In a battle between two of snooker’s most flamboyant players, Lisowski will face Trump on Sunday over 19 frames for the trophy and a top prize of £100,000. Gloucestershire’s 29-year-old Lisowski will be playing in his fourth ranking final and aiming for his first title, having finished runner-up at the 2018 Riga Masters, 2019 China Open and 2019 Scottish Open.
He and Trump have been close friends since their junior days but they must set that bond aside when they collide on the table. Lisowski faces the toughest of opponents in the world number one, but he can take heart from the way he finished tonight’s match, just when it looked as if Selby was making a trademark comeback.
Up until four weeks ago it had been a disappointing 2020 for Lisowski as he had failed to go beyond the last 32 of a single ranking event. But the world number 15 has turned his fortunes around, reaching the quarter-finals of the Betway UK Championship and now this week’s final. He will hope to end the year in perfect fashion tomorrow night.
Tonight’s first frame lasted 38 minutes and came down to the colours. Selby, trailing 28-44, missed a tricky green along the baulk cushion and his opponent took advantage to go 1-0 ahead. Selby replied with a break of 112 but then spent most of the next four frames in his chair as Lisowski rattled in runs of 88, 89, 110 and 72 to go 5-1 ahead.
Selby’s fight-back started in frame seven with a fabulous 143 total clearance – the new front-runner for the £10,000 high break prize. In the eighth, Lisowski had a match-winning chance but missed the blue to a baulk corner when he trailed 35-46 with three reds left. Selby cleared to close to 5-3.
A run of 48 put Selby in control of the ninth. Lisowski had an opportunity to counter but made just 15 before missing the brown to a baulk corner, and soon found his advantage down to just one frame.
“That’s the best performance of my career – to beat Mark in a big tournament,” said Lisowski. “It’s the most satisfying feeling I have ever had after a game of snooker, because I held it together when I needed to in the last frame.
“I couldn’t believe it when I was 5-1 up and everything was going in. Then Mark gathered momentum and I was getting worried. He shut me out and he’s the best in the world at doing that. If it had gone 5-5 then it wasn’t looking too pretty for me.
“I will be the underdog tomorrow, Judd has been the best player in the world by far over the last two years. It’s a big test for me. I’m going to keep going for my shots, I’ll need to play well and keep my cool.”
Selby said: “Jack played fantastic, I only missed a couple of balls and I was 5-1 down. If he plays like that he has every chance in the final.”
The underlined sentence is for Juan. See? Mark Selby outplayed Ronnie last Sunday and yesterday found himself 5-1 down having “only missed a couple of balls” . Nobody in their right mind will ever suppose that Mark didn’t try his hardest, nor that he doesn’t care. Quite simply, those things happen in sport. Yes, Mark fought back and made the score more honourable, but he still lost.
It’s worth noting that the differences in the psychology of the matches. When Ronnie faced Selby and Trump recently, he certainly wasn’t full of confidence, he knew that he isn’t playing well enough in recent months, and probably that undermined his inner belief that he could eventually win. It’s not at all a concious process though, it’s not a decision, but, likely, it impacted his game. Here, Mark has been in good form so far this season. Working with Chris Henry has rebuilt his confidence, he has won an the Scottish Open less than a week ago, he has beaten Jack in the SF en route: he certainly had the self-belief that he could turn things around yesterday, especially against someone who has struggled on the big stage more often than not. Yet, he couldn’t do it.
Today we will have yet another psychology at work. Judd Trump is the runaway World number one. He will be expected to win. That brings its own pressure. Jack has been in three finals and has lost on all three occasions: twice to Neil Robertson, once to Mark Selby. These matches weren’t particularly close either. Jack is clearly the “underdog” but Jhe will be desperate to finally win a ranking event. That too brings pressure.
Jack and Judd have shared an appartment for a long time, they have the same management, they come from the same area, they know each other since they were kids and they are friends. None of that will make it easier for either of them.
Interestingly, they have played each other 14 times in professional tournaments, and it’s 7 wins each. Their last match was a QF at the Players Championship in 2019. Judd won that one but it went to a decider…