Day 3 at the 2021 Masters provided more “shocks” as both Neil Robertson and Mark Selby exited the tournament.
The afternoon match was a long one. It only finished about 3/4 of an hour before the evening match was due to start. Allegedly, Neil Robertson was the better player, he certainly was the heavier scorer. Here are the match stats:
But he lost, and, basically, the match turned on one shot. Neil was leading by 3-1, he was well ahead in frame 4, he decided to take a difficult black and develop a cluster of four reds on the top cushion; he missed the black, developped the reds, and Yan stole the frame. From there the come-back started. Yan made it 3-3, Neil surged ahead again, leading by 5-3, only for Yan to win the last three frames. The deciding frame was a masterclass in tactical play from Yan. Even John Higgins would have been proud of that one, and the pundits were full of praise for once.
Here is the deciding frame:
After the match, Yan did not feel comfortable to be interviewed in the ES studio, and Neil, despite the defeat stepped up, which is much to his credit.. He admitted that he hadn’t practiced much at all, having gone to Norway for Christmas. Neil’s partner is Norwegian, and herself as well as the children were really keen to see their Norwegian family. As Neil put it, people have to go on with their life despite the circumstances.
Yan Fightback Floors Robertson
Chinese debutant Yan Bingtao staged a tremendous fightback to stun world number two Neil Robertson 6-5 and reach the quarter-finals of the Betfred Masters.
Yan, 20, catapulted himself into the sport’s elite by winning the 2019 Riga Masters. Since then he has moved up to 11th position in the world rankings and as a result earned his maiden appearance at snooker’s most prestigious invitational event this week. Yan now leads Robertson 2-1 in their head-to-head record, having also beaten him 6-1 at the 2019 UK Championship.
Robertson enjoyed a memorable victory at the 2020 UK Championship before Christmas and went into this afternoon’s encounter as the tournament favourite. However, he has now exited the Masters in the opening round for two years in a row.
Robertson made a strong start to this afternoon’s encounter, breaks of 81 and 121 saw him establish a 2-0 advantage. Yan responded by getting his first frame on the board, courtesy of a contribution of 123. However, a break of 82 saw Robertson head into the interval 3-1 ahead.
Yan stole the fifth on the pink when play resumed and composed a break of 64 to restore parity at 3-3. Australia’s Robertson then claimed two on the bounce to move one from victory at 5-3. However, he stalled at the finish line as Yan battled back to force a decider with breaks of 65 and 51.
Yan then showed great composure to produce supreme safety in a 40-minute tactical frame. Eventually the Chinese cueman gained a substantial lead, with several colours glued to the cushions. Robertson was unable to overhaul him, as Yan sealed a momentous maiden Masters win. He will face either Mark Selby or Stephen Maguire in the last eight.
Yan said: “I am quite surprised that on my debut Masters appearance, I have also beaten Neil Robertson, who has just won the UK Championship. I am very happy with the result and also playing so well in the decider.
“I just go with the flow and do what I am supposed to do. That is what I did in the decider. Neil is the sort of player that takes a chance if you give it to him. I just played as much safety as I could. It was quite funny that all the colours were on the cushion. I did my best to mess up the table.
“I will do the best I can in the next round, but I have already gone beyond my expectations. I will try my best to relax and enjoy the match.”
Robertson said: “Yan did really well, especially in that last frame. It was like playing Steve Davis in his prime, tactically he was very good.
“He is fully capable of winning these events. When you compare him to the other Chinese players he doesn’t quite score as heavily as the others. If I was a bit clinical, I could have won quite comfortably. I didn’t take enough of my chances.”
At the time of the interview, Yan was probably expecting to face Mark Selby, instead, he will face Stephen Maguire…
I didn’t watch the match. I have to admit that I struggle with the schedule. I’m a morning person, and it’s past 9 pm when the first ball is struck in these evening matches. By all accounts, Stephen Maguire came back from the Christmas break refreshed mentally and is playing well.
Maguire Sees Off Selby
Stephen Maguire produced a fine display to beat Mark Selby 6-3 at the Betfred Masters in Milton Keynes.
Scotland’s Maguire now faces Yan Bingtao for a place in the semi-finals. Today’s win sees him enact revenge for a 6-2 defeat at the hands of Selby in the first round of the 2019 Masters.
Maguire claimed silverware in Milton Keynes last season by winning the postponed elite eight-player Tour Championship. However, he became frustrated with travel down from Glasgow prior to Christmas and hasn’t been beyond the third round so far this season.
By stark contrast, three-time Masters champion Selby has thrived this term in Milton Keynes, winning two ranking titles at the European Masters and the Scottish Open. However, defeat today for the Leicester cueman means hasn’t won the Masters for eight years, having last last lifted the famous trophy in 2013.
Maguire came out firing this evening, breaks of 66 and 57 saw him take the opening two frames to lead 2-0. Selby refused to wilt under the early onslaught, composing runs of 54, 79 and 50 to level at 2-2.
Maguire then took to the front again with a break of 99, before Selby restored parity at 3-3. That would prove to be Selby’s last frame of the match, with Maguire fielding contributions of 65 and 61 on his way to three on the bounce to win 6-3.
“That’s by far my best win of the season. It felt like a proper match out there and I thought I competed pretty well,” said 39-year-old Maguire. “Before Christmas I lost a little bit of will to win at the Scottish Open and the UK Championship. I wasn’t enjoying being here. I was still trying to get my head round it, but I wasn’t enjoying it. The Christmas break was good.
“I couldn’t shake him off. At 2-0 up, I didn’t do much wrong to be back to 2-2. You don’t have to do anything wrong for that to happen against Mark. I was just waiting to get that two frame lead again and I managed to get it and I got over the line.
“I think Yan Bingtao and Zhou Yuelong are the next to come through and be top eight players and win tournaments. I think the two of them are unreal. I can’t split them. They are tough. Yan’s safety game, for being so young, is up there with the best of them. He’ll not be scared of me. I have it tough out there in the next match.”
A lot of persons struggle mentally currently, and this could be the case of Mark Selby as well, if this interview with the BBC is anything to go by:
Mark Selby: Former world champion was left in despair as teenager by death of father
Mark Selby has told the BBC he thought about ending his life at the age of 16 after his father died from cancer.
Leicester’s Selby, 37, is one of snooker’s most successful players, winning a total of 19 ranking titles including three World Championships.
Selby said “it eats away at me day after day” that his father David never got to see him play professionally.
“Hopefully he is looking down and seen what I have achieved and I have made him proud,” Selby told BBC Sport.
Selby won the England Under-15 Championship in 1998 and turned professional just two months after losing his father to cancer in 1999.
He paid tribute to family friend Alan Perkins who “took me under his wing” during a “difficult” time in his life.
In an interview with the BBC’s Rob Walker, Selby said: “I moved in with Alan at the time and for the first six months, I curled into a ball and didn’t want to to play snooker. It was the last thing on my mind.
“I didn’t move in with him straight away – we still had the council house which myself, father and my brother were living in until we decided to give it back to the council because we couldn’t bring ourselves to keep walking into that house knowing my father was not going to be there.
“At times, I was very close to doing it [taking his life] but told myself, my father wouldn’t want that.
“[Alan] pulled me through that, tried to turn it around and say, if your father was here, he would want you to still be smiling and playing snooker and trying your best, so use him as a positive, kick on and do it for him.”
In addition to his three World Championships, Selby has won two UK Championships and three Masters titles and has had six spells as world number one between 2011 and 2019.
He added: “If I could turn back the clock, I would give everything that I have achieved in snooker and all the money I have earned to have him back and see everything I have got – a great wife in Vikki, a fantastic daughter Sofia and even for him to see me as a professional. He never did see me play once.
“It eats away at me day after day knowing he hasn’t been here to see that but hopefully he is looking down and seen what I have achieved and I have made him proud.”
Mark’s mother left her family and abandoned her children, when Mark was still very young. His father raised the boys alone and was their anchor in life. Sadly, he died when Mark was only about 16. Mark might be nicknamed “The Jester form Leicester”, but anyone who has been around the tour for a while will know that he goes through dark periods and does feel very low at times. The current situation probably doesn’t help.
It would explain why he’s seems to be so sensitive and on edge in recent months.