Most matches played yesterday were “last 128” qualifying matches held-over to the venue. All of the top 16 had their matches held-over and three of them were beaten: Stephen Maguire, Jack Lisoski and Mark Allen.
Here are the reports by WST:
Trump Off To Winning Start
Defending champion Judd Trump secured a comfortable 4-1 win over Matthew Selt in the opening round of the BetVictor English Open in Milton Keynes.
The Ace in the Pack lifted the title here 12 months ago to a very different backdrop. Due to the pandemic, there were no fans on site to witness Trump win a thrilling final with Neil Robertson 9-8. Last year’s victory was the first of five titles for Trump at a behind closed doors Marshall Arena. Today’s action has seen the World Snooker Tour welcome spectators in Milton Keynes for the first time.
Trump has shown incredible consistency in the during the five year history of the Home Nations Series. He has now played 71 best of seven matches in the series and won 65 of them. Trump holds the record for most Home Nations titles on four.
The 2019 World Champion asserted his authority in the early stages this afternoon, composing breaks of 90, 53 and 73 to establish a 3-0 advantage. Selt kept himself in the running by taking the fourth with a run of 89. However, a century break of 109 from Trump wrapped up the tie. He now faces Jimmy Robertson up next.
Trump said: “It felt unrecognisable out there. It is the same driving up and staying in the hotel, but out in the arena just feels completely different. It felt a lot more like a really big event. Even though it is the same tournament as last year, it is so special having the crowd there and that is something that I really missed.
“I was really proud of what I achieved last season, but I wasn’t taking a lot of enjoyment out of the events. I just became a robot that was used to winning. It became a habit. I’d drive home, my brother would greet me for ten minutes and I’d go to bed. That was it. There was no special feeling. I wasn’t ungrateful, but it didn’t mean that much to me. Now having crowds back and seeing how much it meant to Mark Allen winning in Northern Ireland has really got me up for this season. I’d love to be able to get out there winning again.”
World Champion Mark Selby got his campaign underway with a 4-2 defeat of Sanderson Lam.
Selby is guaranteed to overhaul Trump and become world number one at the end of this event, regardless of the outcome. That is because Trump’s prize money for winning the 2019 World Open and 2019 Northern Ireland Open will fall off his ranking.
Selby made breaks of 90, 119 and 73 on his way to victory today. He faces teenager Jamie Wilson in the second round.
Stuart Bingham defeated three-time women’s World Champion Ng On Yee 4-1, while Shaun Murphy edged out Duane Jones 4-3.
Kyren Wilson scored a whitewash 4-0 win against Noppon Saengkham and Mark Joyce defeated Jack Lisowski 4-3.
What Judd Trump says about the crowd and how it’s a huge factor in his motivation is quite interesting, in particular regarding the way it affected his mood even when not in tournament situation.
Rocket Off To A Flyer
Ronnie O’Sullivan eased to a 4-1 win over amateur David Lilley to earn his place in the second round of the BetVictor English Open in Milton Keynes.
The six-time World Champion is aiming for a first title in over a year this week, his last silverware came at the 2020 World Championship. O’Sullivan did reach five finals last season, but was defeated in each of them.
He came to Milton Keynes off the back of a out of sorts showing at the recent BetVictor German Masters qualifying in Cannock. The 37-time ranking event winner succumbed to a 5-0 whitewash defeat against Iranian number one Hossein Vafaei.
Lilley started fastest this evening and a runs of 55 and 34 gave him a surprise early lead. However, 45-year-old O’Sullivan racked up four frames on the bounce, including runs of 65, 58, 80 and 100, to storm over the line a 4-1 victor. Next up he faces Cypriot Michael Georgiou.
Afterwards the Rocket praised Milton Keynes and the Marshall Arena for hosting the circuit during the pandemic.
O’Sullivan told Eurosport: “I like Milton Keynes. It was good to us last year. To have the crowds in here, the table was playing well and they got excited. I suppose it must have been frustrating for the local people to have snooker here all year and not be able to come. It is nice to be able to bring a tournament back here. We were here so much last year and the fans didn’t get to come and see it, at least the locals have been able to support the tournament.
“I’ve gone back to the John Higgins cue action. I know it might not look the same, but if you can replicate in your head what he is doing. I have a bit more touch and feel and it is a bit more compact. He plays the snooker I’d like to play. I’ve always believed your technique dictates how you hit the ball.”
Luca Brecel produced a fine display to defeat recent BetVictor Northern Ireland Open winner Mark Allen 4-1.
Belgium’s Brecel composed breaks of 64, 73 and 68 on his way to victory. He faces Stuart Carrington in round two.
Scotland’s four-time World Champion John Higgins earned a comfortable 4-1 win over Zhao Jianbo.
Higgins, who was runner-up to Allen at the Northern Ireland Open, top scored with a run of 135 in this evening’s win and will play Oliver Lines up next.
Neil Robertson whitewashed Andy Hicks 4-0, while Tom Ford defeated Alexander Ursenbacher 4-0.
Kyren Wilson threatens to play naked after being snubbed by snooker bosses
Kyren Wilson has been left angry that his exploits haven’t managed to get him onto the main TV table – with Ding Junhui’s match preferred to his victory over Noppon Saengkham at the English Open
Kyren Wilson has angrily claimed snooker bosses are black-balling him from the main TV table – despite his lofty world No5 ranking.
The Warrior whitewashed Thailand’s Noppon Saengkham 4-0 at the English Open in Milton Keynes.
But Wilson, 29, was seething about being shunted on to table two at the expense of world No10 Ding Junhui from China.
The morning start meant the match involving Asian superstar would be shown at primetime in his home country – but Wilson says he is regularly overlooked and banished “to the sticks”.
Wilson fumed: “You have seen it there today, I am the higher-ranked player and I am on table two. I don’t know what’s going on there but it would be nice to have my fair share.
“It’s getting boring seeing the same faces every single session, and I might have to play naked to get on the main table!
“At some point these guys are going to retire, they won’t be where they are now.
“So maybe they should be giving me and others a bit of help to get our faces out there more and get new characters in the game. You won’t get that this way. So that’s a bit of a gripe.
“It feels like right now being world No5 stands for nothing. You are in the top bracket of the game but what does that mean if you’re out in the sticks all the time and not on the showbiz table.
“I am looking to be back at the big Triple Crown tournaments again, and being back on table one.
“I seem to be spending all of my time on table two and table three and on the graveyard shifts.
“And I want to be back on table one where I feel like a world No5 should do. It does give you a huge advantage, as that table plays differently to all the other tables.
“So to keep getting put on table two it’s hard to keep going from one thing to another and adapting. I think the more I can get on there, the stronger I’ll be.
“It is one of the reasons that your top legends and the same faces are always doing well, because they are so used to it and so comfortable with it.”
World Snooker Tour confirmed that a player’s ranking does have a big bearing on which table they are put on for any given session.
However the governing body also stressed other factors can come into play – including commercial considerations.
Ding status in China, and his role in the development of snooker in his country are of course important commercial considerations. I remember one occasion at the Masters where the afternoon and evening matches were swapped last minute so that Ding could play at “evening time” in China rather than in the middle of the night. I’m not sure the ticket holders were all that happy but there you have it…
Anyway … here goes and there were studio reactions from Judd and Ronnie