The second day at the 2021 Masters delivered two quite different matches.
The afternoon match saw the defending champion, Stuart Bingham, take on Thepchaiya Un-nooh, a Masters’ debutant. Both players looked nervous at the start of the match, probably for different reasons: being the defending champion brings its own pressure and being a debutant in such a big event can be intimidating. Stuart lead 5-1, despite, in my opinion, not really playing at his best. Then, facing a quasi-certain defeat, Theppy started potting everything in sight and, in no time, it was 5-4. At that point, pressure came back on him, and with it, errors returned, allowing Stuart to clinch the match on a 6-4 score.
Bingham Holds Off Un-Nooh Fightback
Defending champion Stuart Bingham survived a late surge from Thepchaiya Un-Nooh to book his place in the quarter-finals of the Betfred Masters with a 6-4 win in Milton Keynes.
Bingham claimed his maiden Masters title 12 months ago with a sensational victory at Alexandra Palace. The Basildon cueman defeated Mark Williams, Kyren Wilson, David Gilbert and Ali Carter to claim the £250,000 top prize and the famous Paul Hunter Trophy. It was a second Triple Crown success for Bingham, who became World Champion for the first time in 2015.
Debutant Un-Nooh will be disappointed to taste defeat in what was his maiden Masters appearance. However, a late rally from 5-1 down allowed him to showcase his considerable talents and he has the consolation of £15,000 for the first round loss.
Bingham assumed complete control in the opening exchanges this afternoon. The Basildon cueman composed breaks of 63 and 114 on his way to leading 3-1 at the mid-session.
A run of 95 saw him move 4-1 ahead when play resumed, before Bingham claimed a dramatic sixth frame on the pink to lead 5-1. He then embarked on a maximum break attempt, but broke down by going in off on 64. That allowed Un-Nooh to clear with 68 and reduce his arrears to 5-2. Further runs of 80 and 113 saw the Thai crank up the pressure and move within one at 5-4.
However, despite the Un-Nooh onslaught, Bingham held his nerve and composed a steely break of 67 to secure victory. He’ll face either Shaun Murphy or Mark Williams in the last eight.
Bingham said: “I was probably a bit mad to go for the max at 5-1 up. I am a bit mad for them and when I get a few reds with blacks, I start going for more. I was a bit unlucky going in off. It gave him an easy starter and the onslaught started.
“He can make people look stupid with how quick and heavy he scores. I just tried to stay focussed and hope I got a chance. Luckily for me I did.
“It puts me in good stead having played out there. I know what it is like now. Whoever I play I’ll be looking forward to it. I’m sure it will be tough and a good game.”
The Eurosport pundits, discussing the players’s performances in the studio, stated that Theppy’s game is unidimensional; he knows only one type of game: attack. When that doesn’t work he has nothing to fall back on. They reflected that this was a weakness and, probably, the main reason why he isn’t winning titles. At the same time, they also admitted that his style made him very entertaining to watch.
The evening match was a very high quality one.
Murphy Edges Out Williams
Shaun Murphy defeated Mark Williams 6-4 in a thrilling encounter at the Betfred Masters in Milton Keynes.
Triple Crown winner Murphy, who won the Masters in 2015, has endured a difficult season to this point. Since reaching the semi-finals of the European Masters in September, the Magician has failed to go beyond the last 32 stage of any ranking event.
World number seven Murphy will now face defending champion Stuart Bingham in the quarter-finals. Bingham defeated Thepchaiya Un-Nooh 6-4 this afternoon.
Welshman Williams now trails Murphy 10-6 in their head-to-head record. The three-time World Champion exits the Masters in the opening round for the fifth time in his last six appearances.
This evening’s high quality clash got off to a pulsating start, with Murphy firing in a sublime break of 93 to take the opener. Williams immediately levelled with a century run of 108, but Murphy claimed the third to lead 2-1.
The fourth frame came to a fascinating conclusion. With Murphy requiring the pink and black, he fluked the pink before taking on and potting a phenomenal black down the right cushion to establish a 3-1 advantage at the mid-session.
When they returned, Williams composed his second 108 break of the evening and went on to take the sixth and restore parity at 3-3. They then traded frames, before Murphy made his burst for the line.
The Englishman crafted a contribution of 81 to move a frame from victory at 5-4. Williams had looked set to force a decider, but it was Murphy who stole the frame with a fine clearance of 47 to steal on the black and win 6-4.
Murphy said: “Any time you rock up against one of those players, they test every aspect of your game. I knew going into that match that Mark might shine a very bright light on any weaknesses I was showing. I was a bit frustrated through the game, because I made all of the running in the match and at 4-4, I was wondering how I’d only won four frames. I played really well and played all of the attacking shots. I put that to bed and I was very proud of myself the way I won the match.
“Every time Stuart Bingham has played recently it looked as if he was going to make a 147. He is one of the best scorers we have seen in the game. He perhaps doesn’t get the credit he deserves for that, he is an immense scorer. I definitely think he is favourite for the match, on current form and as defending champion. I am going to go out, give it my best and hopefully get to six first.”
Interviewed by Rachel for ES, Shaun had explained that the rules in Ireland have changed, and that, as an elite sportsman, he was now able to practice, and had practiced over the Christmas break. Well, it certainly paid off !
Speaking about Christmas break, Matt Huart (WPBSA) shared this on twitter this morning:
Ronnie O’Sullivan lends a hand to support community projectsSenior Reporter
Snooker star Ronnie O’Sullivan stepped forward to support his community over Christmas alongside several hard-working, caring volunteers.
Two of Waltham Forest’s most inspiring community projects, The Hornbeam Centre and The Gleaners Community Cafe, have been supporting residents with hot nutritious meals throughout the pandemic.
The Gleaners has served more than 30,000 mostly free meals while Good Deeds on Bikes have delivered more than 7,000 meals and nearly 3,000 grocery bags, made by the Hornbeam Centre.
On Christmas Day, Mr O’Sullivan received an invitation to hand out meals and bags to those in need, which the keen runner accepted.
He said: “I really enjoyed the day doing my bit for a great cause. So many people are grateful for what the volunteers are doing here. The food is tasty and it’s great to put a smile on people’s faces and to help where possible.”
Meals are cooked daily by a team of volunteers with quality ingredients donated from businesses and organisations such as Today Bread on Hoe St, OrganicLea in Chingford, The Felix Project and City Harvest.
Outside The Hornbeam in Walthamstow
Volunteer Aileen Cooney said: “At the cafe we provide hot meals and groceries on a pay-as-you-feel basis, which has established a wonderful sense of community among volunteers and our customers.
“I feel this is especially important in a time where a lot of us may otherwise be feeling isolated. The pandemic has been hard but volunteering at the cafe has shown me the best in people.”
I thought it was worth sharing, if only for the picures 😊
Todays matches will see Neil Robertson take on Yan Bingtao, whilst Mark Selby will face Stephen Maguire. Yan is a Masters’ debutant and Neil has been in good form so fat this season, therefore I pick Neil as the winner of the first match. Mark Selby has been poor in the CLS, but then he had a problem with his tip (*). Stepen Maguire has been poor all season. I’ll go with Selby here.
(*) Maybe the snooker gods having a bit of a laugh here, after Selby mocked Ronnie about the tip issues at the Scottish Open last December? 😇