The 2021 Scottish Open started yesterday with the held-over last 128 matches.
I have always been of the opinion that there should be a short break after the UK Championship. It’s a long tournament and an important one ranking-wise, as the prize money is huge. The players really give it their best, and those who reached the latter stages are often left exhausted, mentally and emotionally. Their motivation is in low supply. That was there for all to see yesterday as we had a string of upsets and near upsets.
Barry Hawkins, Jack Lisowski, Mark Allen and Stuart Bingham all lost their opening match. Zhao Xintong had not qualified, Mark Williams and Neil Robertson withdrew. So, after just one round, only nine of the top 16 members are still in the draw.
Barry Hawkins was whitewashed by Pang Junxu and, frankly, he didn’t look well at all, he looked exhausted. Not taking anything away from Pang’s performance here: he fully deserved the win.
Stephen Maguire and Shaun Murphy had to come back from the brink as well. Stephen was 3-0 down to Yan Sijun and Shaun found himself 3-1 to On Yee Ng. Alan McManus was in the studio after the match reflecting on what happened to Yuan.
On Yee is clearly improving rapidly and this was her assessment of her performance yesterday:
Ding also is out of the tournament, losing from 3-2 up to Zhang Anda. He’s now down to number 28 in the World… provisionally. What the future has in store for him is anyone’s guess.
Those are the reports by WST:
Selby Extends Winning Streak
Defending champion Mark Selby maintained his undefeated record in the BetVictor Scottish Open, beating Sean Maddocks 4-1 at Venue Cymru in Llandudno.
World number one Selby entered the Scottish Open for the first time in 2019, when he claimed a maiden title in the event after a 9-6 win over Jack Lisowski in the final. He defeated Ronnie O’Sullivan 9-3 in last year’s title match to pick up the Stephen Hendry Trophy for a second time. Selby has now won all 15 of his Scottish Open ties.
The Jester from Leicester has had a tricky start to the current campaign and is yet to go beyond the last 16 of a ranking event. That is despite having ended last season on an ultimate high by winning his fourth World Championship title.
Selby has work to do to guarantee his place in next week’s Cazoo World Grand Prix. Only the top 32 players on this season’s one-year list will qualify. He currently sits in 30th position, with the seeding cut off to come at the end of this event.
Selby was in fine break building form this afternoon, composing breaks of 66, 57,100, 135 and 51 to secure the 4-1 win. He now faces Oliver Lines in the second round.
Selby said: “Whoever wins this event will set some records. Winning the Scottish Open in Wales, I don’t think that will ever be done again. We’ve been to Llandudno a few times in recent years and it is a really nice place. I am looking forward to hopefully having a good run.”
Ronnie O’Sullivan secured his second round spot with an entertaining 4-2 defeat of Dominic Dale.
The Rocket is seeking his first silverware since winning a sixth Crucible crown at the 2020 World Championship. He’s been runner-up in his last five ranking final appearances.
The match was finely poised at 2-2, when Dale led the fifth frame 56-0. However, O’Sullivan fired in an extraordinary clearance of 77 to edge ahead. He then hammered home his advantage with a break of 132 to seal the win. Next up O’Sullivan faces Michael Georgiou.
Stephen Maguire battled back from 3-0 down to beat Pang Junxu 4-3, while Michael Holt defeated Scottish amateur Liam Graham 4-3.
Murphy Survives On Yee Scare
Shaun Murphy edged past three-time women’s World Champion Ng On Yee 4-3 to reach the second round of the BetVictor Scottish Open and keep his hopes of qualification for the Cazoo World Grand Prix alive.
Murphy reached the World Championship final back in May, when he was defeated 18-15 by Mark Selby in a thrilling contest at the Crucible. However, he has struggled to capture his best form this term.
The Magician has suffered from back problems in recent weeks and currently lies 37th on the one-year list. He needs to force his way into the top 32 to qualify for next week’s World Grand Prix, with only this event left before the seeding cut off.
Hong Kong’s On Yee is competing with a tour card on the professional circuit for the first time this season. Alongside Reanne Evans she earned her place by being in the top two ranked players on the women’s tour.
On Yee was on the verge of securing a historic win this evening when she led 3-1 and would have become the first female player to defeat an opponent from the world’s top 10 in a ranking event if she could have got over the line.
Despite this, it was 2005 World Champion Murphy who turned the match on its head. After taking two on the bounce, he fired in a superb break of 130 in the decider to clinch victory. Murphy now faces Li Hang in round two.
Murphy said: “The World Grand Prix is on the line. A couple of seasons ago I was number two on the one-year list and not worrying about things like that. This season has been hard work. I am carrying a very big injury, which is costing me practice time. I am in pain on every shot and anyone with chronic pain will tell you it costs your sense of mind.
“It is important that we make the point that the World Snooker Tour isn’t a men’s tour, it is a professional tour and On Yee and Reanne have earned their right to be on it as much as anyone else. It is great for diversity and great for the expansion of the game around the world.”
World number two Judd Trump averaged just 15.9 seconds a shot on his way to a blistering 4-0 defeat of Robert Milkins.
Trump, who won the Champion of Champions earlier this season, composed breaks of 100, 78 and 85 during this evening’s victory. Afterwards he admitted he made a conscious effort to speed up throughout the match. He plays Craig Steadman in round two.
Trump said: “I felt like I just needed to play a little bit quicker. I think I’ve been bogging myself down for most of the season. Even though I’ve won a tournament, I am still not at my fluent best. I made a conscious decision in this one to be more relaxed and enjoy it.”
John Higgins gained his passage through with a 4-1 defeat of Alfie Burden. He now faces Noppon Saengkham up next.
Kyren Wilson defeated Andy Hicks 4-0, while Stuart Bingham succumbed to a surprise 4-1 loss at the hands of Andrew Higginson.