It was another busy day in Leicester yesterday.
Hugill Lands Biggest Win
World number 79 Ashley Hugill said his 3-2 victory over four-time ranking event winner Kyren Wilson at the matchroom.live British Open was the biggest win of his career.
The manner of the defeat for Wilson highlighted the cutthroat nature of this quickfire best of five format, with the Warrior unable to get over the line despite compiling two century runs.
World number six Wilson opened up the tie with a fine break of 101 to move 1-0 ahead. However, 2020 WSF Open winner Hugill responded by snatching a dramatic second frame on the black. The York cueman followed that up with a run of 80 to move a frame from victory at 2-1.
Former Crucible finalist Wilson kept himself in contention with a century contribution of 115. It was to no avail, as Hugill composed a break of 57 in the decider to help himself over the line. The draw for the second round has pitted Hugill against Anthony Hamilton, who defeated Ukrainian Iulian Boiko 3-2.
Hugill said: “It has to be the biggest win of my career – against the world number six, a really top player, and also my first one on the main TV table in a major tournament apart from the Shootout.
“I am very happy. I took confidence from my performances in the Championship League and went out knowing I couldn’t back down or shy away.
“I am back to Sheffield tonight where I am based. In practice I am trying to play Yan Bingtao at least three times a week, and that is doing me good.”
Perth’s Scott Donaldson defeated practice partner Dean Young 3-0 in a whitewash victory. Next up Donaldson faces Ben Hancorn, who registered a shock 3-2 defeat of Joe Perry this afternoon.
Scotland’s Stephen Maguire defeated Jackson Page 3-0, while his compatriot Anthony McGill succumbed to a 3-1 loss against Zhao Jianbo.
Anthony McGill’s defeat at the hands of young Zhao – he’s 18 – is the only mention of what happened in the morning. There was however a very good win by 17 years old Wu Yize: he beat the experienced Fraser Patrick by 3-0 in what was actually a very close match.
I put that quote by Hugill in bold because it shows that the CLS, despite not being very popular with the fans, is extremely beneficial to lower ranked players. Obviously, four weeks is too long and the format needs to be looked at but I do hope it stays as the opening event in the calendar. What about staging the first round, in three different venues, on the same week? Of course that would come at a cost, but it would free two weeks in the calendar that could be used for events with a paying audience.
Hendry Battles Past Wakelin
Scotland’s seven-time World Champion Stephen Hendry edged to a dramatic 3-2 win over Chris Wakelin at the matchroom.live British Open in Leicester.
Hendry is embarking on his second season back on tour since he initially hung up his cue nine years ago. The 36-time ranking event winner took up the offer of an invitational tour card last season, but only made two tournament appearances. He scored a win over old rival Jimmy White at World Championship qualifying.
This evening’s encounter was Hendry’s first professional appearance in front of a crowd since his World Championship quarter-final defeat to compatriot Stephen Maguire in 2012.
A tense evening of snooker saw the pair share the first two frames, before Hendry moved one from victory at 2-1 after compiling runs of 31 and 37 to take the third. Wakelin forced a decider, but it was Hendry that eventually edged over the line by clearing the colours to win 3-2.
Next up for the 52-year-old will be a last 64 meeting with either Gary Wilson or Fergal O’Brien.
Hendry said: “There was lots of stuff to be encouraged by. I thought my long game was pretty good, especially in the first half of the match. I cued quite nicely on occasions, which is what I’m after. I’m working very hard with Stephen Feeney on the technical side of the game. I’m getting better every day but I’m obviously lacking a bit of match composure.
“One of the main reasons for wanting to come back and compete was to experience what I did tonight with the crowd. It was magnificent. We got an advantage from the full crowd here supporting Mark Selby and it was tremendous playing in front of an audience again.”
World Champion Mark Selby came through a deciding frame to defeat Shaun Murphy 3-2 in a repeat of this year’s Crucible final.
The pair crossed cues in a classic World Championship title match in May, with Selby coming through 18-15. The open draw in operation this week remarkably pitted them against each other once more.
This week presents an opportunity for Selby to return to the summit of the world rankings for the first time since March 2019. World number one Judd Trump must, at the very least, outperform Selby this week in order to retain his place at the top of the rankings.
A vocal and near capacity crowd gave Leicester’s Selby a rapturous welcome as he walked out for his first appearance since winning his fourth world title. However, Murphy silenced Selby’s home support by taking a tight opener to lead 1-0.
Selby responded immediately to restore parity in the second with a break of 78. They then traded frames as the clash came down to a decider. Both players had opportunities to get over the line, but Selby eventually clinched the win with a run of 42.
Selby said: “In a best of five every frame feels like a decider. You are under pressure from the word go. I felt a little bit more under pressure out there because playing here in my home city in Leicester, you feel as if you are playing for them and if you lose you are letting them down.
“To step out there in my home city and home venue with all of the support was amazing. Every time I walked back to my chair and someone walked down the stairs, I more or less knew everybody in the crowd.”
Mark Davis bounced back from 2-1 down to beat former Shoot Out champion Michael Holt 3-2, while Iranian number one Hossein Vafaei beat Welshman Jamie Jones 3-1.
Stephen Hendry played very well in the first frame. However, after Chris Wakelin managed to win the second frame, there were signs that reminded me of Hendry in the last years of his “first” career. In those days, he often started a match well, but it only took a couple of mistakes to sap his confidence and for his form to desert him. Yesterday however he managed to stay in the match, wich is a good sign. The first bit I highlighted above shows that he’s aware of it and working on it. The second bit shows that this notion that in the days “Hendry” was all about business and winning, and “Jimmy” was the crowd pleaser is not entirely true. Crowds really mattered to Stephen Hendry back then too.
Frankly WST, you can’t seriously write that a best of 5 is a repeat of a Crucible final, can you? This was a cruel draw for both and Mark Selby was visibly under huge pressure, playting in his home town. Neither he or Shaun played their best. Mark Selby remains on course to regain the number 1 ranking spot.
This is not exactly pleasing Judd Trump, as reported in the press:
Judd Trump fires Mark Selby dig and rages at British Open conditions
Trump feels as though he has been the best player in the world in the last two years but faces losing his world No.1 ranking to Selby.By Daniel Moxon
Judd Trump complained about the conditions at the British Open after scraping through his first-round tie. The 31-year-old won 3-2 agaist Mitchell Mann to progress, but is in danger of losing his world No.1 spot to Mark Selby should things not go his way at the Morningside Arena in Leicester.
Trump must reach at least the quarter-finals of the tournament, which is being held for the first time since 2004, if he is to keep hold of his status as the best player in the world.
Changes to the snooker calendar will see his ranking points drop this week, meaning he could lose the top spot he has held since August 2019.
He remained bullish when questioned about the situation, though, and stated that he had “clearly” been the best player on the circuit in the time since he reached the summit.
He said: “It’s not something I kept an eye on.
“I presumed that when Mark won that [the World Championship] that he’d be No.1, but obviously that’s not the case.
“It’s a tough one really because I think I’ve performed a miracle to be No.1, not winning the Worlds in the last two years, with how heavy the ranking points are favoured in that tournament.
“I’d be disappointed, not that I don’t think Mark deserves it, but quite clearly I’ve been the best player over the last two years. So for him to overtake me is probably a little bit of a fault with the ranking system.”
Trump went on to say it would be a particularly difficult pill to swallow if he lost his crown over a best-of-five match.
He said: “You’re obviously appreciative of any tournament, but a best-of-five is always going to be a flip of a coin.
“Best-of-seven is tough enough, but best-of-five… It’s always going to be a lottery, this tournament, there’s going to be some surprise results, you’re just hoping the conditions are good and best players will come to the top.”
He very nearly crashed out in the first round of the British Open, and would have done so had Mitchell Mann not missed a crucial blue in the deciding frame.
Despite coming out on top in that match, Trump was critical over the “definitely not level and very, very pingy” tables at the Morningside Arena.
He said: “It shouldn’t really be like that in the first round, the conditions were just so bad.
“It’s frustrating because I come in and felt I was playing well. He let me in in the first frame and I had the biggest bounce you’ll ever see.
“It’s frustrating as a player, you put the work in, I felt good on a 30-odd break, thinking of making a century, settle down straight away and then I’m out of position and 1-0 down.
“In a best-of-five it could be 33 per cent of the match. There was another time the ball rolled off, in a best-of-five you don’t need that. I’m guessing it’s the venue, a little bit uneven. You don’t mind losing but you don’t want it to be to do with the table.”
He continued: “It’ll just get worse because the tables are very heavy. It’s going to be tough to make breaks out there. I’d rather get beat than that kind of thing happen, hopefully it’s better next game.”
What Judd seems to forget is that the “top heavy” system played in his favour when he won the World title and then the International Championship in 2019. The simple fact is that he’s won a lot since, but none of the majors.
That said, yes, the system is too top heavy – I said this many times – but he didn’t complain about it when he benefitted from it.
As for the conditions, there were a lot of complaints, especially about table 1, during the CLS, notably about the table rolling off. But these were Rasson tables, and this week they play on Star tables, so surely it’s a completely different setup? Hopefully the problem can be fixed ahead of round two.
About round 2, the draw has been made and published by WST:
Second Round Draw
The draw for the last 64 of the matchroom.live British Open at the Morningside Arena in Leicester has been made, with Judd Trump handed a tough second round match against either Stuart Bingham or Robert Milkins.
The full second round draw is below, with matches to be played on Wednesday evening or Thursday. The match schedule will appear here.
Ricky Walden v Robbie Williams
Xu Si v Barry Pinches
Joe O’Connor v Ken Doherty
Jamie Jones orHossein Vafaei v Mark Allen
Ian Burns v Duane Jones or Nigel Bond
Stuart Bingham or Robert Milkins v Judd Trump
Sean Maddocks or Noppon Saengkham v Jimmy Robertson
Mark Selby v Ali Carter or Lei Peifan
Jamie Clarke or Pang Junxu v Bai Langning
Graeme Dott or Martin Gould v Lu Ning
Zhao Xintong or Cao Yupeng v John Higgins
Lukas Kleckers or Yan Bingtao v Louis Heathcote
Rory McLeod v Ross Muir
or Ryan Day
Martin O’Donnell v Stephen Maguire
Li Hang or Sam Craigie v Zhang Jiankang
Mark Williams v Dominic Dale
or Matthew Stevensv John Astley
Fergal O’Brien or Gary Wilson v
Chris Wakelin orStephen Hendry
Lee Walker v Jamie Wilson or Mark King
Alfie Burden or Allan Taylor v Jimmy White
Matthew Selt v Michael Georgiou or Soheil Vahedi
Liam Highfield v Chen Zifan
Mark Davis v Jak Jones
Dylan Emery v Andrew Pagett
Ben Hancorn v Scott Donaldson
Liang Wenbo v Hammad Miah
Si Jiahui or Oliver Lines v David Grace
Ashley Hugill v Anthony Hamilton
Zhou Yuelong v Andy Hicks
Elliot Slessor v Wu Yize
David Lilley v Jordan Brown
Barry Hawkins or Luca Brecel v Zhao Jianbo
Watch the draw being made here.
If results go according to seeding, we could have Mark Selby v Ali Carter and Judd Trump v Stuart Bingham. It’s not getting any easier for those two… Hossein Vafaei v Mark Allen should be a good match.