Here are WST reports on what happened in Leicester over the last 2 days:
Day 2 of 2021 NI Open qualifiers
Saengkham Ousts Un-Nooh
Thailand’s Noppon Saengkham edged out compatriot Thepchaiya Un-Nooh to win a tightly contested encounter 4-3 and qualify for the final stages of the BeVictor Northern Ireland Open.
Qualifying stages have been introduced to the BetVictor Home Nations series for the first time this year and places at the Waterfront Hall will be at stake all week. The qualifying event runs until Friday, with the televised stages taking place in October.
Saengkham came into the match having lost his only previous meeting with Thai number one Un-Nooh 5-0 at the 2016 World Open. Five years on, with Saengkham trailing today’s encounter 2-1, he burst into life. Back-to-back breaks of 88 and 108 saw Saengkham turn the match on its head and lead 3-2.
Un-Nooh, who remarkably averaged just 15.5 seconds per shot throughout the tie, refused to back down and fired in a break of 111 to force a decider at 3-3. However, it was Saengkham who got over the line to book his place in Belfast.
World number 22 Ali Carter eased through to seal his progression to the final stages. The Captain saw off the challenge of Welshman Dylan Emery 4-1, making breaks of 66 and 79 along the way.
Liverpudlian teenager Sean Maddocks spurned a 3-0 lead to lose 4-3 against Tian Pengfei. China’s Tian top scored with a break of exactly 100.
Chris Wakelin made a superb break of 137 during a 4-3 defeat of Michael Holt, while Jackson Page overcame Lei Peifan 4-3.
It’s a real shame that the two top Thais players were drawn against each other. There was a good win for young Fan Zhengyi against the very experienced David Lilley. Somehow Sean Maddocks managed to lose against Tian Pengfei, from 3-0 up.
Day 3 of 2021 NI Open qualifiers
Walden Through To Waterfront
Ricky Walden scored four breaks over 50 in a 4-1 win over Fraser Patrick to reach the final stages of the BetVictor Northern Ireland Open.
The qualifying round runs until Friday this week in Leicester, with places at the Waterfront Hall at stake – the televised phase to take place in October.
Walden looked sharp at last week’s matchroom.live British Open, beating John Higgins on his way to the quarter-finals, and he kept his momentum going today as runs of 57, 81, 58 and 62 helped him to a comfortable victory.
Oliver Lines was in fine form against Joe Perry, winning 4-2 with top breaks of 76, 117 and 73.
Lukas Kleckers reached the last 16 last week, but this time he was on the wrong end of a 4-0 scoreline against Ben Woollaston, whose top break was 75.
Mark King knocked in runs of 85, 52 and 75 in a 4-2 win over Li Hang while Duane Jones edged out Zhang Jiankang 4-3 with a top break of 104.
There were good wins for Xu Si and Yuan Sujun against Michael Georgiou and Matthew Selt respectively and Lyu Haotian got the better of Zhao Jianbo. Why aren’t those young players’ wins not even mentioned?
I’m disppointed for Lukas Kleckers, but happy for Ben Woollaston who, for some reason, has been struggling for years now. I would love to see him go back to the form he showed around 2015.