2021 British Open – Day 3 – onto the last 64

Yesterday saw the end of the last 128 round and the start of the last 64 round.

Here are the reports by WST:

Morning and afternoon (L128)

Carter Sets Up Selby Showdown

Ali Carter came through a tight encounter with China’s Lei Peifan 3-2 to book a blockbuster second round meeting with World Champion Mark Selby at the matchroom.live British Open in Leicester.

World number 23 Carter has beaten Selby in their previous two meetings at the Masters and the Championship League. However, there will be a strong home backing for Leicester’s 20-time ranking event winner Selby tomorrow night.

Carter, a winner of four ranking titles, is aiming to claim his first silverware for five years. His most recent victory came at the 2016 World Open. In stark contrast, Selby picked up his fourth Crucible title by beating Shaun Murphy 18-15 in the World Championship final back in May.

It was Chinese 18-year-old Lei who took the opener this afternoon, composing breaks of 47 and 37 to move 1-0 ahead.

Carter then turned the match on its head. The Captain fired in runs of 51 and 63 to establish a 2-1 lead and move a frame from victory. Lei restored parity, but it was Carter who took the decider to wrap up the win.

Carter said: “It’s a dream draw for me really. I’ve got nothing to lose. I’m having a crack at the current World Champion. Not many people will think I have a chance to win, but one of the few people that thinks I can is me. I’ll turn up ten minutes before the match and have a go.

“The best of fives definitely do suit me. They are very cutthroat. Every frame is like a decider. You need to treat it that way and get the intensity level up. You also need to forgive yourself if you miss a ball, because we are all under a lot of pressure out there.”

Germany’s Lukas Kleckers scored an impressive 3-2 defeat of Masters champion Yan Bingtao. He had trailed 2-1, but a break of 61 forced a decider which he won to get over the line.

Belgium’s Luca Brecel defeated Barry Hawkins 3-2, while 2015 World Champion Stuart Bingham beat Robert Milkins 3-1 to set up a second round clash with world number one Judd Trump.

The Yan v Kleckers is only match I saw from those two sessions. After a reasonable start, Yan appeared to lose his way, his self-belief and his motivation completely. Lukas played well in patches but actually not well enough to beat a top player on form IMO. What he did though is apply  himself and keep his concentration. He didn’t allow his opponent’s struggles to drag him down, as we sometimes see. He came out a deserving winner. He will play Louis Heathcote today. This is an interesting match but I doubt that it will be on TV. Lukas may have to deal with a partisan crowd.

Evening (L64)

Williams Fightback Floors Spaceman

Mark Williams battled back from 2-0 down to defeat fellow Welshman Dominic Dale 3-2 at the matchroom.live British Open in Leicester.

The three-time World Champion, who won the 23rd ranking title of his career at the WST Pro Series last season, is a former winner of the British Open, having beaten Stephen Hendry 9-2 in the 1997 final. He got this year’s campaign underway with a comfortable 3-0 win over Tian Pengfei in round one, this evening was anything but comfortable.

Dale took a scrappy first two frames to move one from victory at 2-0, but Williams responded with breaks of 72, 44 and 48 on his way to restoring parity at 2-2.

The final frame edged into a potential stalemate situation, with Williams offering a re-rack. Dale declined and it cost him as Williams manoeuvred an opportunity, making 44 and eventually taking the frame to win the match.

“He should have won that match. Why he didn’t agree to a re-rack in that last frame I don’t know,” said 46-year-old Williams. “I was never going to play up the table and leave him something easy and I thought he was never going to either. I just suggested the re-rack, he said no and played up the table. Thank you very much.”

Iranian number one Hossein Vafaei defeated Northern Ireland’s former Masters winner Mark Allen 3-2 to book his place in the last 32. A break of 55 in the decider was enough to help Vafaei over the line.

Welsh Open champion Jordan Brown beat David Lilley 3-0, while Stephen Maguire pipped Martin O’Donnell 3-2.

I watched both matches reported on above.

The first one was a strange affair. Mark Williams was terrible for the first two frames: his highest break was 9! Then, in the next, he managed to piece a 72 break together and, from then always looked like the winner to me. The “re-rack” thing was bizarre. The commentators in the box reflected that neither player was going to play up the table, so the re-rack was on, if not immediately, within the scope of a few shots… then Dom refused the offer, played up the table and lost the match. They suggested that there was some shrewd psychology behind the timing and the tone of Willo’s offer to re-rack.

Allen looked the strongest player at the start of the other match but, as it unfolded, it shifted in favour of Vafaei. There was never much between the two players. This was a good match: despite the very short format both played their normal game and attacked.

Interestingly “Willo” would love to play Hendry in the next round:

Mark Williams wants Stephen Hendry clash in blockbuster British Open tie

Betfred World Snooker Championship - Day Five
Mark Williams is eyeing up a clash with the seven-time world champion (Picture: Getty Images)

Mark Williams is in no doubt who he wants to play in the next round of the British Open, his good friend and old rival Stephen Hendry.

Williams edged his way into the last 32 on Wednesday night, beating Dominic Dale 3-2 to put his name in the hat of the random draw which takes place on Thursday afternoon.

Hendry beat Chris Wakelin in round one and must still get past Gary Wilson to make it into the third round – no easy task – but Williams will be rooting for the seven-time world champion so he has a shot at playing him on Friday.

Asked if he would like to call anyone out for the third round, Williams said: ‘Yeah, Hendry. Absolutely.

‘I was bad and he was pretty bad as well. Not as bad as me. He started off alright, he started off like a train and finished like a snail.’

The pair are good pals and Williams knows full well he would be risking decades of abuse to come if he were to lose the match, but it would be worth it to take on the legend of the baize once again.

‘It would be the one I want, but obviously the stick I get if he beats me will be never ending,’ said the Welshman.

Betfred World Snooker Championship - Day Eight
Williams is one of the favourites to win the British Open this weekend (Picture: Getty Images)

‘It would be great to play him, though, I haven’t played him for many years now, it would be brilliant. Even if he turned me over 3-0, I’d never hear the end of it for the rest of my life but I’d still take that losing and playing him.

‘I don’t know if he’s going to play in loads of tournaments or whatever. I think everyone would like to play him. Not just because he’s not as good as he was, but just to get the chance to play him.’

The last time they did play was nearly 11 years ago at the 2010 UK Championship, with Williams beating Hendry 9-6 in the last 16.

I didn’t watch the Maguire v O’Donnell match but, if this report by Eurosport is anything to go by, Mags had to summon his whole reserve of patience – which doesn’t amount to much TBH – to get out of the match with a win instead of with a fine…

Stephen Maguire completed a 3-2 win over Martin O’Donnell in the British Open last 64 before blasting the go-slow tactics of the world number 47 at the Morningside Arena in Leicester.

The sickened former UK champion admitted he was on the verge of “smashing” the balls up and making a rapid return to his home city of Glasgow with O’Donnell averaging a tortuous 36.7 seconds a shot for the match.

“He was in the balls (in the fourth frame) and I think he only made 40. He missed something and played safe. That was his chance to win the match,” said world number nine Maguire, who came out at 28.4 seconds above his usual AST of 24.55.

“I thought I did really well to hold my patience out there. There were times I felt like smashing them up and getting out, getting home. I don’t like matches like that, I don’t enjoy them.

To be honest, I don’t think there is any need to be that slow. I’ve played the game for years. You don’t need to be that slow.

“It’s my fault for letting it get to me, but I did. Listen, I threw in the towel three or four times at tournaments last season, just lost the plot and gave the guy the match basically.

“I promised myself I wouldn’t do that, but I swear to God I was so close there. But I never so there you go.”

I’m not sure it’s a “tactic” by the “Minister of Defence” as he always plays that way. What I do know is that I don’t like to watch it. Why he does it, only he will know. He reached the SF at the Shoot Out so he can play faster.