In the afternoon session, Ronnie beat Jack Lisowski by 6-1 and you can read about that match here.
Selby Sets Up Hawk Showdown
World Champion Mark Selby won a Cazoo Masters match for the first time in three years, securing a 6-3 defeat of Stephen Maguire at Alexandra Palace to book a quarter-final meeting with close friend Barry Hawkins.
The Jester from Leicester is a three-time Masters winner, but hasn’t made it to the semi-finals since 2014 when he was runner-up. He last won the event back in 2013, by defeating Neil Robertson in the final.
Despite occupying the summit of the world rankings, Selby is still aiming to hit top form this season. He landed a fourth World Championship crown last May, beating Shaun Murphy 18-15 in an enthralling Crucible final. Since then he has only reached semis of a ranking event on one occasion, at the Cazoo World Grand Prix in December.
Selby now holds a 10-8 advantage over Maguire in the pair’s head-to-head record. Today’s win avenges an opening round Masters loss at the hands of Maguire 12 months ago. Selby also exited at the first hurdle to Ali Carter in 2020.
A ferociously contested opening frame set the tone for the encounter this evening. They slogged it out for 45-minutes, before Selby eventually moved 1-0 ahead.
Maguire then swiftly levelled proceedings with a break of 87. They then shared the following two frames to head into the mid-session level at 2-2.
When play resumed Selby edged ahead once more, before winning the sixth with a break of 64 to make it 4-2.
Selby then won the seventh on the colours to move a frame from victory. Maguire provided some resistance by firing in a contribution of 84 to make it 5-3. However, it was to no avail as Selby ran out a 6-3 winner by taking the following frame.
“I didn’t feel as though I played fantastically, but I didn’t miss ball after ball,” said 38-year-old Selby. “It was a tough game. It was always going to be that way against Stephen as he is a class act.
“Barry is probably one of my best friends on the tour. I get on with everyone, but when we are at tournaments we are always texting each other to go out for food. He stays at mine and I stay at his when we are practising. He is a great lad and a great player.
“Walking out there tonight was a great atmosphere. It would have been a shame to lose tonight and be sat at home watching the rest of it. That isn’t the case. I have another few days here and I’ll look forward to Friday night against Barry.”
Proud Trump Beats Allen In Thriller
Judd Trump made a fantastic match-winning break in the deciding frame as he beat Mark Allen 6-5 in the best tie of this year’s Cazoo Masters so far at Alexandra Palace.
Trump missed this event last year after testing positive for Covid but returned in superb style this time, coming from 25 points down in the last frame to make a crucial 62 which gave him victory. He is through to the quarter-finals of this event for the sixth time and will face either Kyren Wilson or Stuart Bingham on Friday afternoon.
“To get a chance in the last frame and stay calm, keeping position all the time, makes me proud,” said world number two Trump. “I’m so happy to be back out there playing, missing last year was really tough. I wanted to show the crowd how much it means to me and I think they really warmed to that.
“This is on a different level to the UK Championship – no disrespect to that event. The atmosphere here from the very start, just watching it on TV over the last few days I was excited to drive up here. I was desperate to get through because all the top players are in the field.”
The Ace in the Pack has already landed one huge invitation title this season, winning the Cazoo Champion of Champions in November, and is among the favourites for the crown this time.
Allen had won eight of the previous 11 meetings between the pair but will rue missed opportunities at crucial stages of today’s clash.
It was heavy scoring in the opening exchanges as Trump made two breaks of 101, sandwiching a run of 92 from Allen to leave the score at 2-1. In frame four, Trump trailed by 11 points when he was trapped in a tough snooker on the last red, and his attempted escape left the red over a top corner, allowing Allen to level at 2-2.
A break of 88 gave Bristol’s Trump the lead for the third time, but once again Northern Ireland’s Allen hit back, making a 65 for 3-3. A scrappy seventh frame came down to the last two reds and Trump, 37 points behind, was unable to safely execute a slow roll to the reds on the top cushion, handing Allen the opportunity to go 4-3 ahead.
In frame eight, Allen led by 37 points with one red left, but failed to escape from a snooker, and then went in-off as he attempted safety. Trump’s clearance included a fantastic long pot on the pink to a top corner, and he pumped his fist as the black dropped. A cracking long red, to the same baulk corner, set Trump up for a 135 as he edged 5-4 ahead and set a new target for the £15,000 high break prize. A fragmented tenth frame went Allen’s way thanks to breaks of 18 and 38 as he set up the decider.
Allen had first chance and made 23 before calling a foul on himself as he bridged over the pack. He had one more opportunity but missed a mid-range red on 6, and that proved his last meaningful shot, as Trump took control.
“It was a great break in the last frame,” said 2019 World Champion Trump. “I felt like the stronger player but maybe that was just because I scored more heavily. Mark played well too, he kept it tight.”
Asked about his fist-pump in frame eight, Trump added: “Usually I am super calm and keep my emotions in check. You don’t want to do that and then lose the match. I saw Shaun Murphy celebrating in a similar way at the Crucible, he didn’t mean any disrespect by doing it. I was so excited, it would have been worse if I had kept all that nervous energy inside.”
Allen said: “I just wanted a chance in the last frame and got two so I’m disappointed not to take one of them. And earlier at 4-3 I missed the second-last red when I was 45 points ahead, that would have put me 5-3 up. But overall Judd was the better player and I was just proud of myself to hang in there and get to 5-5, I didn’t have my best stuff. At 5-5 I always back myself, it focusses my mind and I felt calm. But it just didn’t go my way this time.”
Wilson Prevents Mirror Image Fightback
Kyren Wilson prevented history from repeating itself as he held off a Stuart Bingham fightback to win a thrilling opening round clash 6-5 at the Cazoo Masters.
The match mirrored Wilson and Bingham’s other Masters meeting at Alexandra Palace in 2020. On that occasion Bingham rallied from 4-1 down to win 6-4 and went on to win the title. The Essex cueman mounted a similar fightback this evening, but was eventually edged out by Kettering’s Wilson.
Former World Championship and Masters finalist Wilson is still seeking his maiden Triple Crown title. He will now renew hostilities with 2019 Masters and Crucible winner Judd Trump in the last eight. The pair met in a famous Masters semi-final in 2018, where Wilson won 6-5. He was denied the title by Mark Allen in the final.
Bingham was making his first appearance at the North London venue since winning the Paul Hunter Trophy in 2020. His title defence was forced behind closed doors in Milton Keynes 12 months ago due to the coronavirus pandemic. He will be disappointed to leave Alexandra Palace after an agonising deciding frame defeat on his return.
Wilson made an electric start this evening to charge into a commanding lead. The Warrior fired in runs of 57, 82 and 79 to move 3-0 ahead. Bingham remained in touch at the mid-session with a break of 96 to make it 3-1.
When play resumed Wilson extended his lead to 4-1 with a break of 83. The match then turned on its head in a dramatic sixth frame. Wilson had a chance to make a frame winning break when he honourably declared a foul on himself on the final red. Bingham pounced with a break of 20 to reduce his arrears.
Bingham then turned up the heat by claiming the seventh and he restored parity with the tournament’s highest break so far, a run of 139, to make it 4-4. Wilson showed his resolve to edge a frame from victory, but Bingham refused to wilt and a sublime 132 helped him to force a decider.
It was Bingham who had the first chance in the final frame, but he spurned a straightforward pink to the left middle on 31. Wilson edged his way back into the frame and it was decided by a battle on the yellow. Eventually he deposited a fine long range pot and clinched the tie on the final pink.
“I thought it was a fantastic match to be a part of. Feathering the white was a big turning point and that got Stuart back into the game. I was completely in control and sometimes these little things turn matches,” said 30-year-old Wilson.
“Snooker is renowned for being a gentleman’s sport. Honesty is always the best policy. As I was going up to the white I wasn’t sure if I had touched it, but my initial instinct was to get up.
“What happened two years ago was really in my mind. I am a little bit stronger than I was then. I probably let it get to me because he started to get the crowd on his side. The same thing happened tonight and the crowd got on his side. I am delighted I managed to keep myself in the present and keep myself composed to go on and get the win.
“It is going to be a tough match. Judd has done the same as me today to win a decider. We will both feel like we have an extra life after that. I will really look forward to the match.”
Bingham said: “I am absolutely gutted. The match had everything and it was great to be involved in. I had my chance in the decider and missed an easy pink in the middle. That is what it comes down to.
“At 4-1 he wasn’t missing. I knew that I felt good about my game. I am gutted because I felt like I could have had another nice run. Fair play to Kyren, he held himself together at the end there.”
The only of those three matches I watched entirely was the afternoon match between Mark Allen and Judd Trump. Mark should have gone 5-3 ahead and I’m pretty confident he would have won from there. Judd needed a snooker in frame eighth and he looked rattled. It all turned on one shot mainly. Mark went for a red that would almost certainly have given him that frame had it gone in, but it didn’t and that opened the opportunity for Judd to lay a telling snooker. Credit to Judd though, he took his chance and played well from there.
The first frame between Mark Selby and Stephen Maguire allowed us to see a side of Maguire’s game that is seldom on display. When wants it, he’s a very, very good tactician but, he rarely has the patience for that type of game. Despite his efforts he ended up losing that frame though. By the time they finished the second frame it was nearly 11 pm where I am…
The quarter-finals start today and 7 of the 8 players still in the draw are in the top 8 in the rankings. The only member of the rankings top 8 missing is Shaun Murphy who is suffering from injuries.
Ronnie expressed the opinion that WST should organise more “Elite” tournaments like this one. I can understand where is is coming from: the Masters is high quality, great for the fans, great for the sponsors, great for the broadcasters and a fantastic advert for snooker. But you can’t sustain a sport relying on just a 16 players’ elite field. WST has to look after all their players and offering them opportunities to earn a living from their sport.