Ronnie played his best match of the tournament so far as he beat Jimmy Robertson by 5-2 in the quarter-finals yesterday afternoon. He also appeared to be in a better place mentally. Ronnie still looked vulnerable before the MSI but applied himself: Jimmy won his 2 frames with big breaks, Ronnie won the fragmented frames thank to superior safety. It all changed after the MSI as Ronnie started scoring and denied Jimmy a single point during the second part of the match.
Here are the scores:
Bingham Plans Fitness Boost To Extend Career
Stuart Bingham intends to learn from the example of John Higgins and improve his fitness to help his form, though he looked on top of his game in a 5-1 thrashing of Stephen Maguire at the Cazoo World Grand Prix.
Former World and Masters champion Bingham is into the semi-finals and, in a blockbuster Saturday night clash, will face Ronnie O’Sullivan, who saw off Jimmy Robertson 5-2.
World number 14 Bingham has had a patchy start to the season but is now into the last four of a ranking event for the first time since the Betfred World Championship. The Essex cueman produced his best performance of the campaign so far as breaks of 53, 105 and 95 helped him to a 4-0 lead. Maguire pulled one back with a 139, the new front-runner for the £10,000 high break prize, but Bingham sealed the result in frame six.
Higgins lost four stone over the summer break and has since shown a high level of consistency, reaching four finals this season. Bingham, age 45, plans to emulate the Scot in order to improve his own health and level of performance.
“I have got a new sponsor called Stuart Lawson who is trying to get me fit,” he said. “My manager Gary has been trying to do that for 25 years and it has never happened! Stuart is putting a plan together. Maybe it will extend my career for an extra few years.
“He’s trying to get me a personal trainer. Christmas is around the corner so we are looking at the new year and putting me through my paces. John got to a point where he wasn’t happy with himself, he changed something and it has worked out perfectly for him. It can only help.”
Reflecting on today’s performance, Bingham added: “I have got stronger and stronger this week and I punished every mistake Stephen made today. I am trying to stay relaxed because before I was trying too hard. This week my practice game is coming out on the table. If you are not in the right frame of mind you can struggle with this game. After 26 years as a pro I am still finding it fun to try and work it out.
“It will be great to play Ronnie and test my game against his. If I play like I did today I’ve got every chance. Only a few players have still got an aura, and Ronnie is one of them. I played him in the Champion of Champions and I couldn’t believe how nervous I was. I’m sure the arena will be packed, every occasion playing him is special.”
Jimmy Robertson looked dangerous in the early stages of today’s match against O’Sullivan and made breaks of 70 and 106 in sharing the first four frames 2-2. But after the interval he failed to score a point as six-time World Champion O’Sullivan rattled in breaks of 80, 12 and 68 to reach the 86th ranking event semi-final of his career.
“I’d rather lose in quarter and semi-finals and enjoy it than try to go deep and not enjoy it,” said O’Sullivan, who has not won a title since conquering the Crucible in August 2020. “Trophies mean nothing to me, I have got enough of them and nothing left to prove.
“I have been on this road trip of playing tournaments for four and a half weeks and my main aim at the start was not to crack up, and I haven’t. I feel as if I have really cruised through it. That was the main aim, lots of smiley faces and try to pick up a few ranking points along the way.”
O’SULLIVAN 5-2 ROBERTSON
All over. O’Sullivan finishing matters off in style as a 68 break is more than enough to get the job done. He will face Bingham or Maguire in the last four on Saturday night. Robertson didn’t score in the closing three frames.
O’SULLIVAN 4-2 ROBERTSON (16-0)
So unfortunate for Robertson as he brilliantly pots his way out of trouble from an immaculate O’Sullivan safety shot only to see the white drop in. Chance for O’Sullivan to win frame and match right here, right now.
O’SULLIVAN 4-2 ROBERTSON (0-0)
Referee almost having to run around the table to picks balls out of pockets. So quickly this frame has been done and dusted. O’Sullivan makes a fine 112 break for a 4-2 lead. Needs one more frame to reach the last four.
O’SULLIVAN 3-2 ROBERTSON (29-0)
Safety blunder by Robertson has left O’Sullivan back in among the balls. By his standards, chance to win the frame for a 4-2 lead. Chasing a place in his 86th ranking event semi-final.
O’SULLIVAN 3-2 ROBERTSON (23-0)
Only 23 from O’Sullivan early in this sixth frame The white ball again running astray at the key moment.
O’SULLIVAN 3-2 ROBERTSON (0-0)
A rapid knock of 80 from Rocket Ronnie. Exquisite contribution at the right time. Two frames short of the winning line.
O’SULLIVAN 2-2 ROBERTSON (65-0)
Robertson can’t slot a mid-range red and O’Sullivan rolls a lovely shot on a red around the angles to land on the black. Great chance to really press on in this frame. All the reds are there for the taking.
O’SULLIVAN 2-2 ROBERTSON (0-0)
A 106 from Robertson to level at 2-2. Brilliant break from the Bexhill potter. Looks to be hitting the ball superbly. Interesting conclusion to this match coming up after the mid-session interval.
O’SULLIVAN 2-1 ROBERTSON (0-74)
Nice calm response from Robertson. Was left in among the balls and is going to punish O’Sullivan’s error. Should restore parity at 2-2. Could be a century on the way.
O’SULLIVAN 2-1 ROBERTSON (0-1)
O’Sullivan can’t hole a long red. Was tough cueing, but what a chance he has left for Robertson. Chance to pile on the points.
O’SULLIVAN 2-1 ROBERTSON (0-0)
A rapid 33 to finish off the third frame. Not yet in top gear, but is competing strongly out there to lead again. One more frame before the mid-session interval. Have a feeling a big break is on the horizon.
O’SULLIVAN 1-1 ROBERTSON (44-0)
O’Sullivan 44 points clear. Plays a poor safety, but his opponent can’t slot a long red. O’Sullivan back at table looking to put this frame to bed. Superb positional shot to float the white onto the black. Touch is just immense in these situations.
O’SULLIVAN 1-1 ROBERTSON (4-0)
Lovely three-ball plant by O’Sullivan at the outset of the third frame, but no colours to follow. A bit of safety to sort out the early narrative here.
O’SULLIVAN 1-0 ROBERTSON (0-70)
Superb little response here from the 2018 European Masters winner. Quickly up to 63 before he slots frame-ball black to move to 70. Fine cut. O’Sullivan needing a snooker, but he can’t be bothered playing for them. We are all square at 1-1.
O’SULLIVAN 0-0 ROBERTSON (71-8)
And the answer is no as Robertson can’t cut in a black. Real chance there, but not enough in response. O’Sullivan slots red to a centre pocket before putting the finishing touches to the business at hand. A 1-0 lead for the 2018 Grand Prix winner.
O’SULLIVAN 0-0 ROBERTSON (56-8)
Breaks ends at 47 after a loose positional shot. O’Sullivan then compounds the error by butchering a safety shot seconds later. Suddenly Robertson in among the balls. Can he punish the mistake?
O’SULLIVAN 0-0 ROBERTSON (28-0)
Nice long red by O’Sullivan and the percentage shot roll behind the green pays off. Robertson leaves him among the balls from the snooker. Chance to make a productive score at this first visit of the day. Looks highly focused.
All set for another enticing day of snooker. Last of the quarter-finals this afternoon with Ronnie O’Sullivan facing Jimmy Robertson and Stuart Bingham taking on Stephen Maguire. First to five frames progresses. The winners of these respective matches will meet in the second semi-final tomorrow night over the best-of-11 frames.
You can watch the last frame here:
The above results mean that all the semi-finalists are former/current World Champions. Mark Selby, aged 38, is the “baby” in this field.
Ronnie and Stuart will play their semi-final tonight. Stuart reckons that the arena will be packed. I’m far from convinced that this will be the case. Indeed, Neil Robertson and Mark Selby played their semi-final match yesterday evening, Neil winning it by 6-3. Such a match should have attracted a huge croewd but the arena was largely empty. It doesn’t look good on television, it’s sad for the sport we love and it’s sad for the players who give it their all.
It’s hard to be sure about the reasons for such situation: maybe, with the ongoing crisis and Christmas coming, poeple don’t want to spend money on snooker, maybe the fact that the arena is in a rather isolated area doesn’t help … but maybe WST didn’t makes the wisest of choice either when it comes to their covid policy.
Let me explain. WST required people to wear masks inside the venue, but no proof of vaccination, nor negative covid tests are required. OK, this is in line with the UK govt recommandations … which is hardly a guarantee that it’s sensible or adequate especially right now with the number of cases soaring. Yesterday, the UK registered its highest daily number of cases for the third day in a row.
My perception, watching on Eurosport, is that there are less people in there now than at the start of the week, which is unusual but maybe understandable. The images on television showed that the mask policy isn’t even enforced. Nobody wants to get covid, particularly now with the Christmas holiday approaching. The vaccine lowers the risk of contamination and offers a very good protection against developping severe symptoms, but it’s still not 100%, and even when symptoms are mild it’s no fun and you might be forced into isolation. Knowing that you will want to be sat in a closed space for hours, amongst people who may be neither vaccinated, nor tested and don’t even wear their mask despite this being required? Would you risk it? I’m no spring chicken, I wouldn’t. Paradoxally, WST might have got more fans in the arena by enforcing stricter measures.