Yesterday’s big story is of course Judd Trump’s exit at the hands of Mark King.
King Stuns World Number One Trump
Mark King recorded a shock 5-3 win over world number one Judd Trump to reach the semi-finals of the BetVictor English Open in Milton Keynes.
It’s the first time King has beaten Trump since the 2008 UK Championship, when he won 9-8. The head-to-head standings between the pair now stand at 10-2 to Trump.
World number 54 King will now face either Kyren Wilson or Neil Robertson in the last four tomorrow. It will be the 12th ranking event semi-final appearance of his career and a first since the 2018 European Masters.
The Romford cueman will be hoping to clinch a second career ranking title this weekend. He won an emotional first, following a 25 year run as a professional, at the 2016 Northern Ireland Open. King defeated Barry Hawkins 9-8 to clinch the Alex Higgins Trophy on memorable night in Belfast.
Trump will lose his position at the top of the world rankings to Mark Selby at the end of this week. Trump has enjoyed incredible success in recent years, winning 11 ranking crowns in the last two seasons. However, his search goes on for a first title since the Gibraltar Open back in March.
King took the opening two frames this afternoon, including the second on the black, to open up an early cushion. The tide turned when Trump fluked the final red in a tight third to get his first frame on the board. He then composed a break of 84 to restore parity heading into the mid-session at 2-2.
They traded frames when they returned, before King stole a crucial seventh on the black to lead 4-3. King established a 65-15 lead in the next and some fine safety play saw him over the line to wrap up the 5-3 win.
“Playing the top boys shows you where your game is at. Judd didn’t play anywhere near his best, but I felt as if I battled well,” said 47-year-old King.
“I want to be here on Sunday night with all my family and my dad to lift another title. That is why we all carry on playing. Most players don’t come to make the numbers up. We all come because we think we can win and have a lot to give the game. It was lovely to be out there with a packed crowd and just have the atmosphere again. It has been a bit numbing without crowds.
“When the Northern Ireland Open final came round against Barry, I felt I could do it and I felt I was ready. Even though I was 5-1 down, I just played some outstanding snooker. I know it is there and I know I can do it. I will never give up.”
I didn’t watch the match (yet) but I’m not overly surprised. Judd Trump has not been playing that well so far this season, and Mark King has the type of game that can break any opponent’s fluency.
Thunder Downs The Warrior
Neil Robertson edged out Kyren Wilson 5-4 in a high quality quarter-final at the BetVictor English Open in Milton Keynes.
Robertson was a losing finalist at last year’s English Open in an epic showdown with Judd Trump, falling short by a 9-8 scoreline. Standing in his way of a second successive trip to the title match is Mark King, who he will meet in a best of 11 last four encounter tomorrow evening.
Australia’s Robertson is hitting form at the right time with a busy month ahead. He will be in Bolton at the Champion of Champions and in York for the defence of his UK Championship title. He became UK Champion with a 10-9 win over Judd Trump behind closed doors here at the Marshall Arena 12 months ago.
Today’s victory breaks a run of three successive defeats at the hands of Wilson for Robertson. The most recent of those clashes was a 13-8 loss in the quarter-finals of last season’s World Championship.
It was Kettering’s Wilson who took the opener this evening with a break of 52, before Robertson responded with 104 to restore parity. Wilson hit back immediately with a century of his own, a run of 117, to regain the lead at 2-1. Robertson then crafted a contribution of 72 to head into the mid-session all square at 2-2.
The barrage of breaks was unrelenting when play resumed. Wilson fired in a superb break of 110 to move a frame ahead, before Robertson once again drew level thanks to a 95 break. Wilson claimed the seventh to move a frame from victory at 4-3. However, Robertson wasn’t to be denied and fired in breaks of 126 and 70 to claim two on the bounce and seal his spot in the last four.
“It was a really good match. Kyren even said at the end that he enjoyed the match,” said 39-year-old Robertson. “It is good to improve and build as the tournament is going on. It is really nice when you do that. That doesn’t always happen, but it is great to build into some really good form.
“To get to a semi-final early on in the season is a really good start. I missed a couple of events at the start of the season, but that was according to plan. It is about improving with the Champion of Champions and the UK Championship coming up. It is about trying to peak for those moments.
“When you go into a semi-final you always have to be confident. You know you are playing well and that the worst case scenario is getting beat. The semi-finals is still a really good tournament with how many good players there are nowadays. I’m looking forward to playing the match. We’re really good friends and have known each other for a long time. I’m delighted to see him playing well again.”
Scotland’s four-time World Champion John Higgins set up a blockbuster showdown with Ronnie O’Sullivan in the last four after defeating Masters champion Yan Bingtao 5-3.
Higgins looked to be in complete control of the tie when he established a 4-0 cushion at the mid-session. However, the game became more fragmented and Yan battled his way back to pull within a frame at 4-3. Higgins eventually got himself over the line with a break of 48.
Afterwards, the 31-time ranking event winner was relieved to be through, but disappointed with his performance.
Higgins said: “That was torture. It really wasn’t as if Yan was playing great to come back. It was just chance after chance after chance. I’m delighted to go through but the way I played there I will be a lamb to the slaughter against Ronnie.
“All I was thinking that this was going to hurt if I lost, with the manner of it. I just have to forget all about it and move on tomorrow. I know I’ve been hitting the ball well. I’ll need to produce my best form against Ronnie the way he is playing.”
I chose to watch the wrong match, yesterday late evening, and I gave up at the MSI. I was a terrible performance from both Higgins and Yan. Yan in particular should have been 3-1 up at the MSI but found himself 4-0 down. He squandered so many chances that it was hard to believe that this was really Yan Bingtao and not some look-alike brought to the table by some extaordinary mistake.
All of the semi-finalists are there on merit, and three of them are in the top 6 of the rankings, but it’s not a good sign for snooker as a sport that the “baby” in this lot, Neil Robertson, is 39, whilst the other three are over 45 and have been pros for about 30 years.