The semi-final line-up was decided yesterday and it’s a strong one: three former World Champions and last year runner-up: Mark Selby, Shaun Murphy, Stuart Bingham and Kyren Wilson.
Here are the reports on the conclusion of each match by WST:
Selby Crushes Williams With Session To Spare
Mark Williams suffered one of his heaviest ever Crucible defeats as he lost 13-3 to Mark Selby in the quarter-finals of the Betfred World Championship.
Selby is growing stronger as the event progresses and looks every bit the player who lifted the trophy in 2014, 2016 and 2017. He subsequently suffered a loss of confidence, but with the help of renowned psychologist Chris Henry he has rebuilt his mental strength and technical excellence. The 37-year-old Leicester cueman will face Anthony McGill or Stuart Bingham in his seventh Crucible semi-final.
Having beaten Kurt Maflin 10-1 and Mark Allen 13-7, world number four Selby has conceded just 11 frames in reaching the semi-finals. He has made six centuries and 24 more breaks over 50, while keeping his opponents under relentless pressure with his tactical intelligence. A winner of two ranking titles already this season, Selby appears fiercely determined to add to his trophy haul and take the £500,000 top prize.
Welshman Williams is also a three-time champion but has rarely been as comprehensively outplayed in Sheffield. Only a 13-3 reverse against Ding Junhui in 2016 and a 10-2 defeat against Matthew Stevens in 2015 can compare to today’s scoreline. The 46-year-old was outstanding in a second round win over John Higgins, but couldn’t make the step up to Selby’s standard.
Selby led 6-2 overnight and soon extended that to 10-2 today with top breaks of 96, 58 and 66. Williams pulled one back with a run of 79, and needed another frame to ensure the match would go to a concluding session on Wednesday night, but could not avoid that ignominy. Runs of 48, 50 and 54 helped Selby to finish the contest and he now has the rest of the day to recuperate.
“I felt great from start to finish – I have done since the start of the event,” said Selby. “It’s nice to produce that out in the arena. I watched Mark play John Higgins and he played great, although John wasn’t at his best. I knew it would be a tough match but I was on my game. It’s nice not to have any stress tonight, I’d much rather have the night off than be going out there again at 8-8.
“Hopefully I can sustain the same level and in a few days time win a fourth world title. But I’m not getting ahead of myself because I need to keep playing the same way. I will try to stay as calm and relaxed as possible. I don’t mind who I play next, when you are at the table it doesn’t matter who is in the other seat. If anything this means more to me because I know the feeling of being last man standing. That makes me want to go out and do it again.”
Williams said: “I was totally outplayed, I knew it was over once it got to 10-2. If Mark plays like that then no one can stop him.”
I don’t think that Willo fancied coming back in the evening either. The feeling I had is that he took the first for pride, and then just went through the motions. To his own admission, he didn’t believe he could still win and there was no fight left in him.
Mark Selby has been scary good from day one this Championship. He will take some beating.
Bingham Makes Decider Ton To Edge McGill
Stuart Bingham made what he described as the best break of his career to beat Anthony McGill 13-12, setting up a semi-final with Mark Selby at the Betfred World Championship.
When it mattered most, Bingham compiled a fantastic run of 125 to finish a thrilling contest in style and reach the one-table situation in Sheffield for only the second time. The first was in 2015 when he went all the way to the title.
Having come through two matches just to make it to the Crucible, world number 18 Bingham is aiming to become the third qualifier to lift the trophy at the Theatre of Dreams, following Terry Griffiths in 1979 and Shaun Murphy in 2005.
Basildon’s 44-year-old Bingham is through to the semi-finals of a ranking event for the first time in over two years and now meets three-time champion Selby over a possible 33 frames on Thursday, Friday and Saturday. It will be their first match at the Crucible.
McGill knocked out Ronnie O’Sullivan in the second round by a 13-12 scoreline but couldn’t repeat the trick. Remarkably, five of his last seven Crucible matches have gone to a deciding frame and he has now lost two of those, heaving suffered a 17-16 reverse in the semi-finals against Kyren Wilson last year.
Glasgow’s McGill won the first frame of the concluding session with a break of 106 to go 10-7 ahead. He had first chance in the next frame but missed the black off its spot on 7, and that proved a turning point as Bingham took four frames in succession with runs of 75, 51, 90 and 91.
World number 16 McGill had a scoring chance in frame 22 but went in-off as he potted a red on 19, which handed Bingham the chance to make 41 and go 12-10 up. Bingham had match-winning opportunities in each of the next two frames, but couldn’t make the most of them as gritty McGill fought his way back to 12-12.
And the Scot had the first opportunity of the decider, but after making 11 he was desperately unlucky not to land on a red after smashing into the pack off the brown. After a brief safety exchange, Bingham slotted a mid-range red into a top corner and was never out of position as he made his fourth century of the match and tenth of the tournament.
“At 12-10 I went into the reds and landed on nothing,” said Bingham, winner of six ranking titles. “After that I felt it wasn’t going to happen for me. Fair play to Anthony he came back strong to go 12-12. Luckily for me he didn’t fall on anything in the decider. My break was the best of my career.
“Last night I had a great sleep because I was so drained. I was a bit gutted to be 9-7 behind but I felt I hadn’t done much wrong. I have lost a lot of deciders this year and that can make or break your season. But this time I held myself together and maybe that’s a good omen.
“My game is getting stronger and hopefully I can keep scoring heavily. The emotion is coming out now when I think about playing on the single table for the first time in six years. It’s a totally different atmosphere. I will enjoy every second.”
McGill said: “I didn’t play that well today and Stuart played brilliant. I wish I could have put a bit more pressure on him. One part of my game I don’t doubt is my bottle. I made a great dish at 12-10, and then held my nerve for 12-12. In the last frame I couldn’t have hit the brown any better, but I didn’t finish on a red. I have played a lot of good stuff here, my game is so good right now. I won’t let today’s result get me down. What I am doing is working, I am going in the right direction.”
Anthony McGill’s previous match could have ended in a defeat if Ronnie had not got a kick on a red when in on 37 in the decider, this one could have ended in victory had he landed on a red after potting that great brown. That’s snooker for you. Sometimes the snooker gods smile on you, sometimes they don’t…
Stuart played like he did in 2015 en route to the title. If he can maintain this level, he certainly has a good chance this year as well.
Wilson – I Can Win Title
Last year’s Crucible runner-up Kyren Wilson came from 5-2 down to score a 13-8 win over Neil Robertson in the quarter-finals of the Betfred World Championship, then stated his belief that he can lift the trophy.
Wilson beat Judd Trump at the same stage last year and once again got the better of one of the giants of the game to reach the one-table situation. He has appeared in at least the quarter-finals for six consecutive years and is now through to his third semi. Wilson lost to Ronnie O’Sullivan in the final last year; the only thing he has to do to prove his Crucible pedigree is to go one step further and lift the trophy.
The 29-year-old from Kettering certainly has the all-round game and self-belief to go all the way, having outplayed Robertson throughout the second and third sessions. His next opponent will be Trump or Shaun Murphy.
Australia’s Robertson came to Sheffield at the top of his game having won the UK Championship and Cazoo Tour Championship this season, but once again was not able to produce his free-flowing best on the biggest stage. The 2010 champion has not reached the semi-finals since 2014.
World number six Wilson made a 133 in the opening frame today to take a 9-8 lead. Robertson had first chance in frame 18 but made only 23. He didn’t score another point until he was 11-8 down as Wilson made breaks of 59 and 62 to extend his lead.
Wilson got the better of a fragmented 20th frame to make it 12-8 at the interval, then sealed victory in the next with a run of 84.
“I am delighted to get over the line,” said Wilson. “Today I focussed on what was at stake and what I needed to do. I channelled the positive thoughts and went for it. The century in the first frame today got me motoring. Neil can go off into the distance if you let him so I had to put a stop to that and make him think. He can go into his shell sometimes. When he is scoring fluently he is probably the best player in the world so I had to neutralise that.
“I wasn’t going to hand him the table and say mop them up. I was going to try to make him earn it and work for it. Neil started the match strongly, he had his scoring boots on. I had to get the best result I could out of the first session, and to be 5-3 down and then 8-8 last night gave me a great opportunity going into today.
“Last year Judd was tipped to win the event and I managed to beat him, this time Neil was tipped for it and I have knocked him out. I believe in what I can do, I can beat anyone on my day. I don’t see the point in being in this sport to just turn up for the money and say quarter-finals will do. If I lose in the semi-finals I will go away from here annoyed, it wouldn’t be good enough. I want to push on and I believe I can win it.”
World number three Robertson said: “I wasn’t able to reproduce the form I showed in the last few weeks. It has still been a brilliant season, it’s just a shame I couldn’t finish it on the single table here.
“I feel I lost it in the second session yesterday. Not every session is going to be free flowing, certain players will make it tough and Kyren did that very well against me. I wasn’t good enough to keep the game open. I allowed the frames to go on for too long and that knocked me out of my rhythm.”
Kyren got stronger and stronger as the match unfolded. He was well outplayed in the first session, came back strong in the second and won the last by 5-0. He’s full of self-belief.
For Neil is was another disappointing run at the Crucible, a venue he doesn’t like in the early rounds because it’s too small and cramped.
I don’t like the venue, from a technical point of view it’s very difficult for me to walk into my shot properly, it’s actually almost impossible to do,’ Robertson told talkSPORT.
‘I know other players do struggle with it.
‘To get to the one-table set-up I need to negotiate that and it’s something that I have to work on.
‘Whether it’s change my technique slightly so I’m not always backing into those walls.
‘I know a lot of players don’t like the set-up, it’s very cramped, not much room. If you put the white in the jaws of the yellow pocket you can’t really play the shot without sitting on that table.
‘It’s just something I have to deal with, it’s just on me, no excuses.’
Indeed, he’s not the only one struggling with this cramped and rather claustrophobic theatre.
Murphy Stuns Trump To Reach Semis
Shaun Murphy scored one of his best Crucible wins since he won the title 16 years ago as he beat world number one Judd Trump 13-11 in the quarter-finals of the Betfred World Championship.
Going into Wednesday’s play, many would have anticipated a Trump against Neil Robertson semi-final, but both favourites lost on a day of surprises at the Crucible. Murphy was hauled back from 10-6 to 11-11 but came good in the last two frames, and will now meet Kyren Wilson who knocked out Robertson.
World number seven Murphy is through to the semi-finals for the fifth time in his career and first since 2015 when he lost to Stuart Bingham in the final. The Dublin-based cueman has had a disappointing season, reaching just one other ranking semi-final, but has found his trademark sweet ball striking in Sheffield. Memories of 2005 when he beat Matthew Stevens in the final will now come flooding back for the 38-year-old.
Trump has had a tremendous season, winning five titles and stretching his lead at the top of the world rankings, but finishes on a low note. He was far from his fluent best in his three matches and missed too many balls over his three sessions against Murphy.
Trailing 10-6 going into the last session, Trump got the start he needed by taking the first two frames to close the gap to 10-8. Frame 19 came down to a safety battle on the last red, resolved when Murphy converted a tricky pot to a baulk corner and cleared to go 11-8 ahead.
The 20th was also settled on the last red and this time it was Trump who rolled it into a centre pocket and added the points he needed to narrow the gap to two frames. After the interval, Murphy had first clear chance in frame 21 and made 20 before missing a straight-forward red to a top corner, raising his hands in the air in a sign of frustration. Trump punished him with 67 to close to 11-10, then made a superb break of 111 to level the tie for the first time since 6-6.
In frame 23, Trump made 9 before missing a tricky thin-cut black to a top corner, and Murphy’s excellent 70 restored his advantage at 12-11. Nine-time ranking event winner Murphy looked to be cruising over the line in the 24th until he missed a tough red to a baulk corner on 62. Trump had a chance to counter but made only 14 before wobbling a red in the jaws of a top corner, which proved his last shot.
Murphy said: “It was epic, it was a really high quality match. I’m just thrilled to take the chances in the last two frames having taken an onslaught before that. Between sessions I was watching the other match on TV, then they were talking about our game and Stephen Hendry said ‘I expect Judd Trump to come out and play like a world number one.’ I was thinking ‘I don’t want that!’ But the way Judd started tonight was outrageous.
“I’m not an O’Sullivan, a Williams or a Higgins where runs to semis and finals of this event are commonplace. My career has taken a different path. These matches are a big deal. I will savour it because Judd has been the best player on the planet for the last two years. I have won a match that nobody expected me to win.
“Without doubt it’s one of my best wins of recent years. Judd threw everything at me. But at 11-11 it was the calmest I felt all night because the equation was simple, I still had to win two frames. I have played enough of those matches to know that I will get a chance, I just had to be patient.
“The Crucible has been a house of horrors for me to come back to every year since 2015. I had only won two matches here in the last five years. Usually I’d be at home now watching it on the sofa so I’m very excited to be here.
“Kyren and I grew up close together, I was in Irthlingborough and he was in Kettering, and there’s an intense rivalry between those two towns, though Kyren and I get on very well, we have practised a lot together. He is now a course and distance runner here, he builds his whole life around performing well here. It’s going to be tough.”
Trump, who won the title in 2019, said: “I just couldn’t get going. Shaun played amazing in the second session and built a strong lead. I had kind of given up, but then Shaun really struggled tonight and at 11-11 I was in full control until I missed the black and let him back with an easy chance. That shot summed up the whole match for me. It’s disappointing because I felt it was mine to lose at that point.
“I had a lot of support and it was amazing to feel the energy of the room, that was the only thing that kept me going because I was poor all day. I tried to dig in and find something but I couldn’t get into a rhythm and missed too many easy balls.”
Semi-finals, best of 33 frames
Stuart Bingham v Mark Selby (starts 1pm Thursday)
Shaun Murphy v Kyren Wilson (starts 7pm Thursday)
For once Judd isn’t blaming bad luch for his defeat which is refreshingly positive.
Judd was also asked to give his views regarding the outcome of the semi-finalsand here they are reported by Phil Haigh:
First looking at Selby and Bingham, Judd dismissed the idea that it would be a one-sided contest like Selby’s quarter-final in which he hammered Mark Williams 13-3.
‘It’s tough to predict, Stuart made an amazing break earlier in that decider,’ Trump said of Bingham’s epic 13-12 win over Anthony McGill in the last eight.
‘Mark Selby wasn’t really tested against Mark Williams, he didn’t put up much of a fight, he just kind of rolled over.
‘It’s hard to tell just how well he is actually playing.
‘Stuart’s someone who actually loves being back at the Crucible and being in the semi-finals, you can see how much it means to him so I think it will be a completely different game.’
Trump wouldn’t quite go far as predicting the second semi-final either, in fact he said it is a very difficult one to forecast as Murphy is not entirely reliable when it comes to his form.
The Magician was immense in the middle session of his win over Trump, but less so before and after.
‘Kyren and Shaun, I have no idea,’ said Judd. ‘It depends what Shaun turns up. If the middle session Shaun turns up it wouldn’t surprise me if he blows him away, but Kyren can put you out of your rhythm.
‘He [Kyren]’s a great player, great battler. He did what he needed to do against Neil [Robertson], just put him out of his rhythm, grinded him.
I think it’s a fair assessment of the matches ahead.
The only thing I disagree with in this article is once again the “shock defeat” tag. There was no shock. Judd had not been playing well for some time and Shaun is a former World Champion and a true showman. He loves the limelights and it motivates him big time to play at the Crucible.