The Gibraltar OPen is not the most lucrative tournament in the calendar, but because he’s one of the very last before the World Championship qualifiers, it is mightily important for many players, the lowest ranked ones in particular.
Trump In Control Of Series
Defending champion Judd Trump recorded a comfortable 4-1 win over Robbie Williams on day one of the BetVictor Gibraltar Open.
Trump lifted the title in 2020, with a 4-3 win over Kyren Wilson in the final. By winning the event 12 months ago, he secured last year’s BetVictor European Series bonus, which is awarded to the player who accumulates the most prize money across all of the eligible tournaments.
World number one Trump is in pole position to scoop this year’s bumper £150,000 payout, having already won the BetVictor German Masters. Only BetVictor European Masters winner Mark Selby and BetVictor Welsh Open champion Jordan Brown can catch him in this week’s concluding event.
The Ace in the Pack fired in breaks of 74, 54 and 80 on his way to this evening’s victory. He’ll face either Sunny Akani or Haydon Pinhey in round two.
Trump said: “There have been a wide spread of winners in the series this year. There are three people that can still win it, so I had no choice but to enter.
“I saw that myself and Mark Selby are in the same half of the draw. It puts it in my hands if I can get that far. It would be nice if we could get through and meet each other in the semis.
“You can’t pick what tournaments you are going to win, so you have to be super consistent and keep winning throughout the season. I won the German Masters again this year and it is the biggest prize money of the series. I was decent in the other events and put myself in control. I think Mark will be a little bit disappointed not to be in the driving seat.”
Shaun Murphy secured his place in the second round after battling back to beat Ashley Hugill 4-2.
Triple Crown winner Murphy had trailed world number 117 Hugill 2-0. However, breaks of 56, 60 and 140 helped him to reel off four frames on the bounce and emerge the 4-2 victor.
Chinese teenager Si Jiahui stunned compatriot and Asian number one Ding Junhui 4-2, making contributions of 99, 63 and 58 in an impressive display.
Welshman Jamie Clarke booked his place in round two with a fine 4-1 win over Masters champion Yan Bingtao, while Joe Perry defeated Mark Davis 4-2.
What happens to Judd Trump, and who will take the bonus, will be the last thing on the mind of those players who are fighting for their Tour survival.
In that respect there were some important results yesterday.
Alexander Ursenbacher beat Yuan Sijun. Yuan Sijun is currently ranked 63rd but losing yesterday means that he will be down to 65th after this tournament. Strangely, the beneficiary of this is Mei Xiwen who is now provisionally ranked 64th, despite not playing at all this season. That won’t last though.
Zhou Yuelong beat Xu Si. Xu Si is currently second in that group of eight “out of the top 64, but redeemed via the one year list”. He’s 5000 points ahead of Jackson Page who is 8th in that list. However all other players in that list are still in this tournament, and most of them are still in the WST Pro Series. Xu Si is out of both.
Si Jiahui has a lot to do, but beating Ding yesterday was an important first step in the context of his tour survival. Si played really well at the start of the match, despite being involved in an incident with the referee. Indeed, Si arrived in the arena without a bow tie and looked quite nonplusssed when told that he needed one. The referee sent him backstage – after the first frame – to get one, with some “strong words”, but, thankfully, didn’t dock him a frame. This still caused some disruption of course. When Ding started to come back at him, it was obvious that Si was under a lot of pressure and very anxious. He managed to get over the line though. Well done to him.
Jamie Clarke is in the first year of a two years tour card, so no danger for him, but he played some excellent stuff in beating Yan Bingtao.