First day of the quarter-finals stage and we had another match going to the “underdog” (one of Philip Studd’s favourite words 😉) as David Gilbert beat Kyren Wilson by 6-5 in the afternoon.
Gilbert Battles Past Warrior
David Gilbert produced a fighting display to secure a narrow 6-5 win over Kyren Wilson at the Betfred Masters in Milton Keynes.
The match followed a similar nerve-shredding pattern to recent games this week, it is now the fourth of the last five matches to go all the way to a deciding frame.
It’s the second consecutive year that world number 13 Gilbert has made the semi-finals at the Masters. Last year, he beat Mark Allen and Stephen Maguire, before losing to eventual winner Stuart Bingham. This time he will face either Ronnie O’Sullivan or John Higgins in the last four.
Wilson, who was runner-up to Mark Allen at the 2018 Masters, will have to wait for a maiden Triple Crown Title. The four-time ranking event winner has now failed to go beyond the second round in the last three years.
Kettering cueman Wilson took the opener this afternoon, making a run of 60 in the process. Gilbert replied with a break of 58, which was eventually enough for him to restore parity at 1-1.
Wilson had looked in position to take the third, but left the brown over the right middle and allowed Gilbert to clear and force a re-spot. Tamworth cueman Gilbert then deposited the black to move ahead at 2-1.
The Warrior drew level with a fine break of 114 and then took the fifth to lead 3-2. The following frames became increasingly tactical. Gilbert edged a 36-minute sixth, before depositing a tricky final black along the top cushion to move 4-3 ahead.
Wilson fired in breaks of 107 and 80 to move to the verge of victory at 5-4. However, it was Gilbert who crucially claimed the last two frames. A stunning long range red paved the way for a 66 break to force a decider, where he fired in a run of 67 to seal victory.
“I’ve certainly been losing games like that this season, when it’s not been too pretty, and chucking the towel in. It is about winning, that was pretty ugly at times. Either of us could have won, but I’m going to take it, that’s a great win for me,” said 39-year-old Gilbert.
“Kyren will definitely feel he should have won today. It is one of those horrible games where you feel you both should have done better. I’m just the lucky one that is through to the next round.
“I don’t think I’m playing that well, at all really, but I’m definitely thinking a lot better. It’s clearer and I’m trying. I think good things can happen if you are thinking better. I’m a long way off my A game, but the longer you are in, the more chance you have of it coming out. I just thought over Christmas it was time to cheer up a bit as I was just miserable. That was no good for myself or anyone, I kind of laugh about it now.”
I must admit that I struggled to find enjoyment in this match, despite having no particular favoutite. It was just such a hard, painful slog. All credit to David Gilbert for turning his attitude and mindset areound over the Christmas break.
MASTERS SNOOKER 2021 – ‘A STINKER OF A YEAR AND A MASSIVE TAX BILL’ – GILBERT HAPPY TO PROGRESS
The world number 13 edged out Kyren Wilson to reach the last four of the Masters at the Marshall Arena in Milton Keynes. It was a patchy performance from Gilbert who was comprehensively outplayed, but he kept himself in the hunt and produced his best snooker in the final two frames to advance to the semi-finals.
David Gilbert has spoken of his relief to advance to the semi-finals at the Masters, as he has a “massive tax bill due.”
Gilbert somehow beat Kyren Wilson 6-5 in the quarter finals on Thursday despite being comprehensively outpointed in all departments apart from the one that matters most.
“It is a lot of money,” he told Eurosport of beating Wilson and advancing to the last four at the Marshall Arena in Milton Keynes. “I don’t know what it is, £50,000, £60,000?
“I have had a stinker of a year and have a massive tax bill due so it all helps.”
Pressed on why it is hard to feel sorry for someone who has a “massive tax bill,” Gilbert replied: “You can complain when you earned nothing the next year.”
Commenting on his win and the meeting with either John Higgins or Ronnie O’Sullivan in the semi-finals, Gilbert said: “It was a real grind.
“I am not going to win the Masters playing like that but I am still in and that’s what’s great.
“I have been losing frames like that all season long so I’ve probably won three or four today and they add up.
“It is David versus Goliath. If I can start well and find my arm then I fancy my chances.
“If not, I will be on my way home, it is as simple as that.”
Again, I didn’t watch the evening match.
Champion Bingham Into Semis
Defending champion Stuart Bingham beat world number seven Shaun Murphy 6-3 to reach the semi-finals of the Betfred Masters.
Bingham has now won six consecutive matches at the Masters, after lifting the trophy 12 months ago with a thrilling 10-8 win over Ali Carter in the final. He’ll now face either Stephen Maguire or Yan Bingtao for a place in this year’s title match.
Tonight’s victory for the Essex cueman sees him close the gap on rival Murphy in their head to head record, now trailing by one at 6-5. The most notable meeting between the pair saw Bingham defeat Murphy 18-15 to claim a maiden Crucible crown in the 2015 World Championship final.
Triple Crown winner Murphy took a tightly contested opening frame this evening, before Bingham restored parity at 1-1 with a sublime run of 133.
Murphy then regained his advantage, but Bingham levelled at 2-2 with a steely clearance of 35, after a back doubled pink set him up for a regulation frame ball black.
Bingham took the lead for the first time with a break of 92 to take the fifth frame and he then added a third on the bounce to move 4-2 ahead.
Murphy kept himself in contention by winning the seventh with breaks of 70 and 51. However, Bingham crucially responded by edging a marathon 46-minute frame to move one from the win at 5-2. He then controlled the 9thframe, taking it 72-0 to seal a 6-3 victory.
“We both gave each other a bit too much respect and we were both waiting for the other to start playing well. There were some good pots and bad misses, I think it had pretty much everything,” said 44-year-old Bingham.
“I’m still in it and I’m improving. To win a battle with Shaun, of course I will get some confidence out of it. Whoever I play, Yan Bingtao or Stephen Maguire, it will be a tough game and I will probably need to play a little bit better and hopefully get through to another final.
“I feel like I’m pretty sharp at the moment, we had the Championship League last week and I think that has helped get my game into shape. I need to relax and let my game come out. Hopefully I’ll do that on Saturday.”
Today we have the other two quarter-finals: Stephen Maguire v Yan Bingtao in the afternoon, and Ronnie v John Higgins in the evening.
I will support Yan and Ronnie… I will TRY to stay awake.
John Higgins relishing Ronnie O’Sullivan test in blockbuster Masters quarter-final
John Higgins is expecting some cracking Friday night entertainment when he takes on Ronnie O’Sullivan in the Masters quarter-final on Friday night.
The Wizard of Wishaw edged out Mark Allen 6-5 on Wednesday evening at the Marshall Arena in a dramatic and tense contest.
This followed the Rocket bouncing back from 5-3 behind to beat Ding Junhui in the afternoon session, in a game packed full of still more drama than the match that came later.
The pair will have a day off to prepare and return for one of the biggest match-ups that snooker can offer between two of the all-time greats, with organisers moving it from the afternoon session to the evening on Friday to maximise viewing figures.
The Scot had a message to fans across the world ahead of the showdown with his old rival, telling Eurosport: ‘Everybody should just stay in, crack open the beers and watch the game.’
O’Sullivan has long thought of Higgins as the greatest rival of his career, and while the Wizard agrees, there is absolutely no needle between the two, just an immense amount of respect.
‘It’s a friendly rivalry, I think, with Ronnie,’ said Higgins. ‘I respect him an unbelievable amount, so to still be playing these sort of matches I’m over the moon.
‘A quarter-final to get through to the semi-final, I know I’m going to have to play better than even tonight.
‘I never seen any of his game today, but apparently he played brilliant and Ding played well, so I’ll just have to come in and bring my A game.’
O’Sullivan did indeed look good in his win over Ding, fighting back impressivly against the Chinese, who was in fine form himself.
The Rocket knocked in two centuries and three further half-centuries to move into the quarter-finals.
Higgins couldn’t boast any tons, but five breaks of over 50 helped him into the last eight.
The 45-year-old has not won a Triple Crown event since the 2011 World Championship and won the second and last of his Masters titles way back in 2006.
He agreed with the suggestion that the shorter format of the Masters is probably his best chance of adding to his nine Triple Crowns, although nothing at this level is straight forward.
‘If you’re looking at the amount of frames that you’ve only got to play to win then you’d say that this is the best chance,’ said Higgins.
‘The UK is seven matches, best of 11 and the World takes care of itself.
‘You would maybe say this one is the easiest, for someone like myself, but it’s far from easy.’
Ronnie and John first played each other as professionals way back in 1994 at the Dubai Classic and have met three times in the Masters, always in the final.
Higgins won a classic 2006 final 10-9, gaining revenge for his heavy 10-3 defeat in the previous year’s final.
O’Sullivan won their first meeting in a Masters final, comfortably claiming victory 9-3 back in 1995 and has won their last three matches in all events, with Higgins’ last win coming back in 2018.
Those two have played each other an incredible 71 times, Ronnie winning 37 times, John 29 times, and there were 3 draws.
Their last 5 encounters all happened in the quarte-finals round, bizarrely, Ronnie winning 3 and Higgins 2. Ronnie however did win the last three.
Stephen Maguire and Yan Bingtao have played each other 3 times, Maguire winning all 3. I’m not sure however if this is a reliable indication of what could happen today. The last time they played was in the 2018 English Open, and they never played each other over a best of 11 or a longer format. A lot changes in two years in terms of maturity when you are only 20.