Neil Robertson may not have won a match – or been to the hairdresser – for nearly 12 weeks, but he was back to his best in the first round of the Cazoo Players Championship as he made four centuries in a 6-1 thrashing of Lu Ning.
Since winning the Betway UK Championship in December, Robertson has competed in only two events, losing in the first round of the World Grand Prix and the Betfred Masters. But time away from the table has left him fresh for the last few months of the season and he showed his break-building class today as he swept into the quarter-finals. The Australian will face Kyren Wilson on Thursday afternoon.
Robertson’s long and curly natural hair caught the eye as he entered the stage, but he was soon down to business on the baize. After sharing the first two frames, the world number three took five in a row with runs of 135, 130, 82, 142 and 132. The 142 total clearance in frame six sets a mark for the tournament’s £10,000 high break prize.
“I couldn’t wish to play any better,” said 19-time ranking event winner Robertson. “It was pretty much flawless after the first frame. That doesn’t happen all of the time so it’s nice to see that form so early in the event.”
Title sponsor Cazoo is donating £100 to the Jessie May charity for every century break, so Robertson has added £400 to that tally in a single match. “It’s important, when we get to 80 or 90, to try to make century for the charities, and everyone at home loves to see the big breaks,” he added.
Looking ahead to his next match, Robertson said: “Kyren is a credit to the game, his approach is very professional. Even when he was a teenager I could see his determination to be a top player. Young pros should model themselves on him.”
As for his hair, he added: “This is my natural hair, when it gets this long it’s crazy. My daughter Penelope loves playing with it, so I let it grow as long as it doesn’t start to cover my eyes, at least until the hairdressers open.”
Meanwhile, Jack Lisowski booked his spot in the last eight in Milton Keynes with a 6-3 defeat of Martin Gould. After building a 4-1 lead, Lisowski lost frame six on a respotted black, then Gould made a 100 to close to 4-3. But Lisowski weathered the storm and took the last two frames with runs of 54 and 59.
Lisowski has been in fine form in recent months, reaching the final of the World Grand Prix and BetVictor German Masters. He is still in danger of dropping out of the top 16 in the Race to the Crucible, though today’s result ensures a boost of £15,000 to his total.
“I didn’t feel great out there and at 4-3 the wheels could have come off,” admitted Lisowksi. “I dug in and won two good frames. I am trying to stay composed and take a bit more time over my safety. Today was a big result for me in terms of the Crucible and the Tour Championship.”
On the other table, Barry Hawkins edged out Zhou Yuelong 6-5 in a match which was crucial to both players in terms of qualifying for next month’s eight-man Cazoo Tour Championship, as well as the Race to the Crucible. Victory for Hawkins tonight is worth £15,000 on his ranking tally.
From 4-2 down, Hawkins made 109 and 57 for 4-4. Zhou regained the lead with an 85 then Hawkins won frame ten with a 143 total clearance, the new front-runner for the £10,000 high break prize. In the decider, Hawkins edged into a 55-14 lead, then missed the pink to a top corner to hand his opponent one more chance. But Zhou missed a red and went in-off, immediately ending his hopes.
“It was a good standard up until the last frame, then we both had a few twitch-ups,” said Hawkins, who now meets Stuart Bingham on Wednesday night. “It’s nice to come out on top because it was an important match for both of us.”
Today Jordan Brown will take on John Higgins and Mark Selby will face Mark Williams in the afternoon. That session will conclude the last 16 round.
In the evening Stuart Bingham will play Barry Hawkins to get the quarter-finals under way.
Ronnie beat Ding by 6-5 in hard fought last 16 match at the Players Championship yesterday evening. He wasn’t at his best, but he certainly showed determination and a strong will to win. Despite a brief display of frustration, his attitude was excellent.
Two days after his memorable defeat against Jordan Brown, Ronnie O’Sullivan got back to winning ways with an exciting 6-5 win over Ding Junhui to reach the quarter-finals of the Cazoo Players Championship.
O’Sullivan was edged out 9-8 by Brown in the BetVictor Welsh Open final on Sunday night and is still waiting for his first title since conquering the Crucible six months ago. He might have lost another close battle tonight but conjured a brilliant break of 95 to win the deciding frame in typical style.
The Rocket moved a step closer to a third Players Championship title since 2018, and set up a tantalising clash with Jack Lisowski on Thursday night.
After sharing the first six frames tonight, O’Sullivan made breaks of 58 and 103 to go 5-3 ahead. Ding took the ninth with a 53 for 5-4 and led 67-0 in the tenth. O’Sullivan had a chance to clear for victory, but over-screwed position from the yellow then missed a tricky green. He threw the rest to the carpet in frustration, having allowed Ding to clear for 5-5.
Early in frame 11, Ding’s attempted long pot missed its target, and O’Sullivan took full advantage this time with a match-winning run.
“It felt tough at times, but I stuck in there because I want to be in the tournament,” said 37-time ranking event winner O’Sullivan. “I tried to forget about poor shots and focus on the next one. I like playing Ding because you can get into a good rhythm. A 5-3 I felt I would get at least one chance, then at 5-5 I was thinking ‘here we go.’”
Asked whether it was tough to bounce back from Sunday’s defeat, O’Sullivan replied. “The way I see the tour is that it’s like one continuous tournament. I don’t separate the events. I’m in round 38 at the moment! I just go out and play each day.”
Looking ahead to his match with Lisowski, 45-year-old O’Sullivan added: “He’s on an upward curve and I’m heading downward, we have had close matches before. He is very talented and has found his feet.”
They also shared Ronnie’s post-match interview and most of his century on their youtube account:
And here is the post-match analysis with Ronnie in the ITV studio
“I felt a bit bad there, I threw the rest to the floor. I hope I haven’t upset Ding. I was just frustrated you know,” said O’Sullivan, who quickly recovered his stride after losing 9-8 to 750-1 outsider Jordan Brown in the Welsh Open final on Sunday.
I JUST COULDN’T GET TO GRIPS WITH MY GAME. NO MATTER HOW PHILOSOPHICAL YOU BE, WHEN YOU ARE NOT STRIKING THE BALL AS YOU WANT TO, IT CAN BE FRUSTRATING.
“I don’t dwell on it, but it’s hard out there when you are fighting the elements. The elements of snooker shall we call it.
“It can be such an easy game when you just flow and the breaks are flying in left, right and centre like it was in the Championship League and most of the Welsh Open. But then all of a sudden, the wheels come off and its like you’ve sucked the well dry then there’s not really much there.
I‘M NOT REALLY GOOD AT JUST PERFORMING DAY AFTER DAY. I LOSE SOMETHING. SOMETIMES A DEFEAT IS GOOD FOR ME BECAUSE IT GIVES ME THE CHANCE TO HAVE A FEW DAYS OFF.
“Then I go into a tournament with a nice feeling if that makes sense.“
This win is important in the context of the run to the Tour Championship. Ronnie is currently in 4th place in the one year list and, even if he wins this tournament he can’y get any higher, but of course he can widen the gap between himself and the players below him in that list. BTW, the number five in that list is no other than his next opponent, Jack Lisowski. I watched Jack’s match yesterday and he is playing well BUT Martin had opportunities in every frame. He wasn’t able to make the most of them.
For now, six of the last 16 matches have been played in this tournament and all but one have been won by the player ranked higher in the one year list. The only exception is Stuart Bingham’s victory over Judd Trump.
Ronnie O’Sullivan: Losses don’t hurt when you’re the most successful snooker player of all time
Phil Haigh – Tuesday 23 Feb 2021 1:25 pm
Ronnie O’Sullivan was not left too disappointed by his deciding-frame defeat in the Welsh Open final on Sunday night, saying it is tough to feel down after losses when you’re the most successful player in history.
The Rocket was beaten 9-8 by Jordan Brown in a remarkable final at Celtic Manor as the man who came into the tournament priced at 750/1 won his first ranking title.
O’Sullivan is still looking for his first trophy since winning the World Championship title in August but has now lost in three finals after also falling at the last hurdle in the Northern Ireland and Scottish Opens.
The world champion was asked if he was starting to get wound up by these defeats in finals and he said he is almost immune to those kind of feelings after the career he has had so far.
‘I suppose if I hadn’t won 37 ranking tournaments and 20 majors it might have maybe had a little dent in me,’ O’Sullivan said after the Welsh Open final. ‘But when you’ve been the most successful snooker player of all time, disappointments like that, you kind of just take them in your stride.
‘I thought it was a good match, Jordan played fantastically well, held himself together brilliantly in the last frame. Disappointed obviously to lose, but also happy to be involved in a good match.’
O’Sullivan is back in action on Tuesday night in the Players Championship in Milton Keynes as he takes on Ding Junhui in the first round.
The Rocket has played a lot of events this year, by his standards, but shows no sign of slowing down with the World Championship approaching.
‘It’s just one continuous tournament, isn’t it?’ O’Sullivan said. ‘You can’t separate them anymore, it’s just like every day one runs into the other.
‘Someone asked me what my next tournament was the other day and I said, “it’s impossible to know, it’s like having 30 children and trying to remember all their names.”
‘I just try and look at it like one big tournament and just try to play. This week could be good but next week might not be so good, but who cares?’
O’Sullivan has also entered the Gibraltar Open next week and will also play in the Tour Championship next month back at Celtic Manor as he looks to get in the best shape possible to defend his world title in Sheffield.
He takes on Ding Junhui on Tuesday evening at the Players Championship with the winner taking on either Jack Lisowski or Martin Gould in the quarter-finals.
Ronnie intends to play in the Tour Championship but isn’t safe just yet. He could do with winning tonight.
Despite missing two chances to make a 147, it was a momentous opening night at the Cazoo Players Championship for Stuart Bingham as he beat Judd Trump 6-5 in the first round.
World number one Trump saw the defence of his title slip at the first hurdle as he failed to bounce back from a last-32 defeat against Hossein Vafaei at last week’s BetVictor Welsh Open. He may have four ranking titles to his name already this season, but Trump will be disappointed to suffer another early exit.
Bingham goes through to the quarter-finals of the £385,000 event in Milton Keynes and will meet Zhou Yuelong or Barry Hawkins next.
World number 14 Bingham took the first two frames with a top break of 93, then Trump won three in a row with 81, 105 and 76. Basildon’s Bingham has made eight career maximums – only three players have made more – and he was on for a ninth in frame six, but missed a difficult thin cut on the 15th black on 113.
Trump regained the lead at 4-3 then his opponent’s second 147 attempt came in frame eight – this time he made 112 before over-cutting a tough pot on the 15th red to a top corner.
Runs of 32 and 47 put Bingham 5-4 ahead and he led 61-0 in frame ten, but Trump eventually took it with a 42 clearance for 5-5. Bingham then dominated the decider, making four scoring visits to win it 69-0.
“Something clicked at 3-2 down, my timing was there,” said 2015 World Champion Bingham. “Judd saw me playing well, he was under pressure and made mistakes – something was not right with him.
“I watched Jordan Brown beating Ronnie O’Sullivan in the final in Wales last night and that inspired me. It was David against Goliath and I felt the same tonight.”
Trump said: “I don’t feel I deserved to lose, it just wasn’t my day. At 4-4 I went into the pack from the yellow and finished on nothing, that was a big moment. I made a great clearance to go 5-5 then in the decider I just needed one chance, but Stuart froze me out.”
On the other table, Kyren Wilson eased to a 6-1 win over BetVictor Shoot Out winner Ryan Day. It has been a mixed season so far for Wilson – he won the BetVictor Championship League and otherwise has reached seven quarter-finals, but lost all seven. He’ll try for an eighth time in the next round against Neil Robertson or Lu Ning.
“I really enjoy these ITV events,” said Wilson, who knocked in breaks of 62, 59, 119 and 73 tonight. “It’s only the the top 16 players so every match could be a final. Ryan showed how well he can handle pressure at the Shoot Out so it was a tough draw and I’m delighted to beat him. I’ll just keep putting myself into quarter-finals and hopefully win one.”
Once again Judd Trump bemoaned his luck. He doesn’t seem to be able to accept that, on the day, his opponent was the better player.
2015 world champion Stuart Bingham admits he was suffering from a crisis of confidence before his stunning 6-5 win against world number one and defending champion Judd Trump in the first round of the Players Championship in Milton Keynes.
“I’m really pleased. I was practising yesterday morning before coming up here and I didn’t want to get in the car. I felt really bad and had a chat with my missus, my manager and my coach,” revealed Bingham.
I JUST FOUND A BIT OF SOMETHING FROM SOMEWHERE. I THINK IT WAS THE FIRST CHANCE ON THE MAXIMUM AT 3-2 BEHIND. SOMETHING CLICKED AND I JUST FANCIED THE JOB.
“I’ve been playing really solid all year, but have just been losing too many deciders all season,” said Bingham.
I GOT SOME INSPIRATION FROM WATCHING JORDAN BROWN BEATING RONNIE IN THE FINAL YESTERDAY AND IT GAVE ME THE KICK UP THE BACKSIDE I NEEDED.
“I found a bit of form in the middle of the match. At 2-0 up, Judd missed a few. It was a good match after we resumed at 2-2.
“I held myself together well. I’ve got my work cut out to make sure I qualify for the World Championship, but I’m in with a shout.”
Yesterday evening, for only the second time since I started this blog in the summer of 2015, I blocked someone from commenting. I hate doing that. My generation, the “flower power” one, fought for freedom, and freedom of speech. Altough this ended up in “political correctness nonsense” – which I hate – I still believe in, and value, freedom of speech.
The right to voice an opinion though, isn’t the right to be agressive, insulting, and a bully.I will not tolerate that.
That person has been all of this, and I have been very patient, maybe even for too long.
Yesterday, that person, in a comment that I have “unapproved” branded Jordan Brown a “lowlife”. That definitely crossed the line for me.
Jordan Brown is a young man, who dreamed to be a snooker player from a young age. He got on the tour in 2009/10. He didn’t succeed. He continued to work on his game, whilst finding day jobs to earn a living. Three years ago, he was working in a garage, on a low salary. He was also practicing hard. He got back on the tour. Last August he qualified for the Crucible, three weeks ago he reached a quarter-finals stage for the first time, two day ago, he became a ranking event winner, having beaten Mark Selby, Stephen Maguire and Ronnie on his way to the title. Far from being a “lowlife”, he’s an inspiration and someone many youngsters should look up to.
Next month’s Cazoo Tour Championship will be staged at the Celtic Manor Resort in South Wales.
The event will run from March 22 to 28, featuring the top eight players on the one-year ranking list. It will be televised by ITV4.
The Celtic Manor Resort staged a professional snooker event for the first time last week with the BetVictor Welsh Open. This outstanding facility has proved to be an excellent venue and allows WST to follow all necessary Covid-19 regulations.
The field for the Cazoo Tour Championship will be confirmed at the end of the WST Pro Series on March 21.
Jordan Brown: I’ve been critical of Ronnie O’Sullivan but he’s changed my opinion of him
Phil Haigh Monday 22 Feb 2021 8:36 am
Jordan Brown secured one of the most remarkable victories in snooker history on Sunday night as he beat Ronnie O’Sullivan 9-8 to win the Welsh Open and it has change his life, his bank balance and his opinion of the Rocket.
The 33-year-old had never been to a ranking semi-final before this event and only once made a quarter-final, which is why the bookmakers were happy to offer odds of 750/1 on him lifting the trophy at Celtic Manor.
The Antrim Ferrari showed sublime quality and incredible nerve over the week, winning five matches in deciding frames and downing Mark Selby in the last eight before thrashing Stephen Maguire in the semis to set up the showdown with O’Sullivan.
Brown was briefly on the tour over a decade ago and only returned in 2018, with his lack of experience illustrated by the fact he had never played the Rocket before Sunday night in Newport.
However, it mattered not that he was taking on the world champion for the first time and contesting his first ever major final as he went toe-to-toe with the Rocket throughout and finally got over the line in the epic contest with a tremendous break of 74 in the decider.
Jordan was taking on an idol in Ronnie, which makes the achievement all the more incredible for onlookers, but also all the more special for him.
‘He’s the greatest of all time and his speech there at the end meant so much to me, coming from him,’ Brown told Metro.co.uk. ‘You could tell he genuinely meant it. We all know what Ronnie’s like, he’s a bit temperamental, but for someone like him to do that there is unbelievable.’
O’Sullivan told Rob Walker after suffering defeat: ‘I’ve enjoyed every minute of that today, I’ve had such a fantastic time, loved playing Jordan, he’s a great guy, he really is.
‘I’m so happy for him to win, he’s a lovely guy and a fantastic player.
‘You don’t beat Selby, Maguire and I played alright tonight, not many people beat me when I’m playing alright so he’s a proper player, you know.
‘Fantastic for Jordan, his night and you couldn’t be happier for him.’
Brown also revealed a nice moment the two men shared after the final ball was potted, explaining: ‘He said he really enjoyed the match and I thoroughly deserved it, great break in the last frame.
‘All I said to him was that it was an absolute honour to play against him. He said, “thanks but no, really you definitely deserve it and great match.”‘
O’Sullivan’s class in defeat has turned round Brown’s view of him after the Northern Irishman admitted he had been both annoyed and motivated by the Rocket’s comments at the 2020 World Championship.
The six-time world champ said at the Crucible last year that he would have to lose an arm and a leg to drop out of the world’s top 50, which ‘didn’t go down well’ with Brown who was lower down the rankings than that at the time.
The Antrim star has proved that there is immense quality further down the rankings and is also happy to change his view of the Rocket after not seeing him in the best light recently.
‘It did annoy me, but it just spurred me on because I just wasn’t having that,’ Brown told Metro.co.uk of O’Sullivan’s comments.
‘Today I’ve definitely proved him wrong, that I’m not a numpty. I’ve definitely proved a lot, not just to him, but to everyone on tour, people in general, that I can play this game and to a very high level. I’ve had so many messages from my fellow competitors and it means so much to me.
‘I’ve been very critical of Ronnie, especially recently because I’ve always looked up to him and when he’s making comments like he did, you think to yourself, “What’s he like? Why is he getting on like that?”
‘He’s not proving himself to anybody, he should be the role model, the benchmark for everybody else. I just think he lets himself down.
‘But I’ve sort of changed my opinion of him today, you could tell that was genuine at the end, so thank you to him.’
Brown’s remarkable story has seen him climb to these new heights after nearly giving up the game in his late twenties as he worked in a petrol station and struggled for motivation and any form of success.
He believes his journey has helped develop the immense bottle he showed, not only in the final, but in all five matches he won in a deciding frame over the Welsh Open, with another of those coming against the iron-willed Selby.
‘It makes you even more determined because I’ve hit rock bottom at times in the past,’ said Jordan. ‘There actually was a time when I genuinely wasn’t going to play the game anymore, so to think of that and now is unbelievable,
‘I can’t quite believe this is all happening. I’m just an ordinary lad who loves to play snooker and is lucky enough to be playing it for a living.’
There was an incredible outpouring of congratulation and joy for Brown from his fellow players after his stunning win, with dozens of professionals sending him their best wishes on social media.
The down to earth, unassuming character ruffled plenty of feathers with his performances at Celtic Manor, but he is not out to do that away from the table, and he feels that is why people are pleased for him to do well.
‘I think I just give a good impression,’ he said. ‘I don’t really have any enemies in this world, I’m a genuine, nice lad,
‘I always get on with anybody, don’t like to get myself in any trouble, don’t fall out with anybody. I think I give that impression out there, I’m just laid back as well, in general. I think that helps.’
The immensely likeable Brown was self-deprecating even after the sensational achievement, suggesting that anyone would have been out of their mind to take the bookmakers up on their 750/1 pre-tournament price on him.
‘It should have been 10 times that!’ Brown said. ‘They would have been mad to even have a pound on me, they might as well have thrown it down the drain.’
Clearly that did not turn out to be the case as he became the longest-priced winner of an event in snooker history and anyone who had fancied a flutter on him would be very thankful they did.
The £70,000 Brown earned himself this week is by far the biggest prize of his career, providing him a level of wealth he has never experienced and did not see coming so soon after turning pro in 2018.
He is not a man likely to get too big for his boots, though, and thanks to going through the toughest times just a few years ago, he is already focussed on the sensible option.
‘Even before today it was life-changing,’ Jordan said of his significant prize money, boosted by qualification for the Players Championship and Champion of Champions.
‘I was thinking to myself, “my God, I’m going to be sitting next Friday with five figures in my account!” I’ve never seen that amount of money before.
‘It’s going to take a while to sink in because I’m not going to know what to do with it, it’s so much money.
‘It’s going to set me up for a long time, I’m one of those people that will be responsible, investments and stuff like that. I’m absolutely not going wild, I’ll be very good at looking after it.’
After his performances at Celtic Manor, Brown can expect plenty more return on his snooker investment in the future.
Ronnie O’Sullivan glad his comments spurred Jordan Brown on after shock Welsh Open defeat
Phil Haigh Sunday 21 Feb 2021 11:26 pm
Ronnie O’Sullivan had nothing but praise for Jordan Brown after his stunning victory in the Welsh Open final on Sunday night, glad that his comments have helped spur the Northern Irishman on to success.
Brown completed a miraculous run at the Welsh Open this week by beating the Rocket 9-8 in the final at Celtic Manor in dramatic circumstances.
The 33-year-old came into the tournament with odds of 750/1 to lift the title but pulled off a string of upsets, including beating Mark Selby in the quarters and Stephen Maguire in the semi-finals.
After downing Maguire, Brown was faced with the prospect of taking on the Rocket in the final and was relishing the prospect after admitting he had been annoyed by O’Sullivan’s comments at last year’s World Championship.
Ronnie said he would have to lose an arm and a leg to drop out of the world’s top 50 and Brown, who came into this event ranked number 81, said they ‘didn’t go down well’ with him.
O’Sullivan insists they were comments meant to inspire players, though, and after his nail-biting loss in Wales, is glad Brown has used them in the best way possible.
‘Like I said, you can take it in two ways, a negative way and a positive way and Jordan’s took it in a positive way,’ O’Sullivan told Metro.co.uk.
‘He’s gone: “You know what, that’s what I needed to hear to motivate me.”
‘It’s worked for me in the past when people have doubted me and knocked me, I’ve just gone, “lovely.”
‘It’s the best inspiration you can get sometimes, so I’m looking for someone to knock me again.’
Brown has had a circuitous route to a ranking title, nearly giving up the game in his mid-twenties and only coming back onto the tour in 2018.
The Antrim Ferrari was then just one match away from dropping off tour last year before qualifying for the World Championship and turning his career around before surging on to this remarkable success.
O’Sullivan, despite the loss, is delighted for his conqueror, saying: ‘I don’t know Jordan well enough to know his complete story but I’m over the moon for him to have got that victory today. How can you not be pleased for him?
‘I really enjoyed it, I really did, a good match to be involved in.
‘I was good, I could have been better, but I’ll take that game, scored okay, played some good safety. I’m not disappointed about how I played.’
O’Sullivan was remarkably chipper despite losing in a deciding frame of a ranking event final and insists he doesn’t get down about snooker matches anymore.
‘Listen, I’ve got my finger in quite a lot of pies now,’ he said. ‘This is one pie of seven or eight,
‘I’ve had a great week this week with some of the other fingers stuck in other pies. I’ve got to take the rough with the smooth, the snooker hasn’t been all bad.
‘I’ve had some other good stuff that’s gone on this week as well. I’m not just a snooker player now, I’m here because I want to be here and I’m playing just for the fun of it, which is a nice place to be in.’
O’Sullivan won his first ranking event title all the way back at the 1993 UK Championship and recalls what he did after, as Brown, a bit depressingly, celebrates his maiden ranking crown alone in a Newport hotel.
‘I think I went home, stopped off in a service station and got recognised for the first time, that was pretty cool,’ said Ronnie.
‘He can drink some beer out of that trophy, I’m sure he’ll enjoy it.’
So good to read … especially as opposed to the nasty reactions from some.