Thusday is “moving day” at the Home Nations, the day when 32 become 8 and two rounds are played to a conclusion.
Rocket Downs Dragon In Wales
Ronnie O’Sullivan sealed his place in the last 16 of the BetVictor Welsh Open with a 4-2 defeat of China’s Ding Junhui and afterwards admitted he has been coaching one of Ding’s compatriots.
Following the win O’Sullivan discussed a coaching session with UK Champion Zhao Xintong which took place yesterday evening, where the pair looked at aspects of the 24-year-old’s safety game.
The beginning of this afternoon’s match saw Ding, who is China’s most successful player with 14 ranking titles, seize an early advantage. The Dragon fired in breaks of 72 and 59 to establish a 2-1 lead.
However, from there it was four-time Welsh Open winner O’Sullivan who dug deep to turn the tie around. He overhauled deficits to take frames four and five, before claiming a hard fought sixth to get over the line as a 4-2 victor. O’Sullivan now plays Ricky Walden in the last 16 this evening.
When being interviewed by BBC Wales, the Rocket elaborated on how much he enjoyed working on aspects of Zhao’s game yesterday evening.
O’Sullivan said: “I’ve helped him a bit. He just has a few things he needs to learn, but he picked it up within an hour. It was things which took me about two years to learn and he did it in an hour! I got more pleasure out of that than anything I have done in a long time.
“He is the special one, so I will always give him unlimited amounts of my time. I just want to see him fulfil his potential. It would be such a sadness for snooker if he was just winning due to playing well and potting balls.
“He is a great safety player, but it is just knowing how to play the shot. It is like in golf where you have a putting stroke, a driving swing and an iron swing. He will get it and once he does it will be lovely.”
Welshman Ryan Day swept to an impressive 4-0 whitewash win over Shaun Murphy. The three-time ranking event winner composed breaks of 71, 78, 53 and 82 on his way to victory. Next up he plays Iran’s Hossein Vafaei, who beat Jak Jones 4-0.
Kyren Wilson claimed a nerve shredding decider with Matthew Selt to win 4-3 and set up a meeting with Joe Perry, while Ben Woollaston beat Barry Hawkins 4-3 and will face Neil Robertson this evening.
Jack Lisowski beat Elliot Slessor 4-2 to set up a clash with Welshman Michael White, who beat Liam Highfield 4-1.
Another immense Chinese talent, Yan Bingtao, plays a slightly less fluent game and O’Sullivan says he just wouldn’t be able to work with him.
‘I can only help Xintong because he’s going through what I was going through,’ said the six-time world champion.
‘I couldn’t help Bingtao because we’re just totally different players, but I can help him.
‘It’s nice to pass the knowledge on. Nothing wrong with that, we’re all a snooker family at the end of the day and you want to support your fellow professionals as much as you can.
‘I get great satisfaction out of helping someone if I can.’
Ronnie’s help is greatly appreciated as this twitter quote by Victoria proves:
Ronnie however also admitted that he was feeling very tired, as acknowledged by Nick Metcalfe on twitter:
Here are the scores:
And the end of the match (Eurosport YouTube Channel)
The evening session saw the whole of the last 16 round played to a conclusion, and here is the report by WST:
I’m Close To Best Form – Trump
Judd Trump believes his best form could be just around the corner, after beating Jimmy Robertson 4-1 to reach the quarter-finals of the BetVictor Welsh Open.
The Ace in the Pack, who won the invitational Champion of Champions last November, is yet to land a ranking title this season. In contrast, Trump won 11 ranking events over the previous two campaigns.
As a result of his season so far, 2019 World Champion Trump is in need of several strong showings to earn a place at the upcoming Tour Championship. Only the top eight on the one-year list will be in attendance and Trump currently sits in 16th spot on the live standings.
Trump had appeared to be in command this evening, composing breaks of 68 and 103 to move 2-0 up. However, Robertson hit back with a break of 63 to take the third and had then looked in position to restore parity in the fourth.
A spurned final pink from Bexhill’s Robertson left Trump with the simplest of pots to move 3-1 to the good. He then ruthlessly compounded Robertson’s mistake with a break of exactly 100 to run out a 4-1 victor. Next up he faces a mouth watering quarter-final clash with Masters champion Neil Robertson, who beat Ben Woollaston 4-1
Trump said: “I think this week my game is a bit more like how I was playing in the last two seasons. I’m still making a couple more mistakes but it is somewhere closer. If I can cut out these little easy mistakes, especially against the top players, I have a good chance. I feel like I’m one tournament away from getting back to my absolute best.
“It is just about trying to find some confidence for the end of the season. There are a few big events coming up. It would be nice to be in the Tour Championship, but if not then a different approach and some time off before the World Championship might be good. I am trying to stay as positive as possible. I know my game is close to where it needs to be at this moment in time, with some big events left.”
Ricky Walden beat Ronnie O’Sullivan for only the second time in his career, with an enthralling 4-3 win.
Walden’s other victory over the Rocket came way back in 2008, when he defeated him 10-8 in the Shanghai Masters final.
Fast forward 14 years and the Chester cueman produced some great snooker to storm into a 3-1 lead, making breaks of 54 and 134 along the way. O’Sullivan hit back to force a decider, but it was Walden who crafted a composed break of 83 to get over the line.
Walden’s showings this week put him in a strong position to earn a Tour Championship spot, edging him into 8th position in the live one-year rankings. He faces Joe Perry up next in the quarter-finals.
Perry secured an impressive 4-1 win over Kyren Wilson. The Gentleman made contributions of 73, 71, 126 and 138 during a stunning showing.
Ali Carter defeated Scott Donaldson 4-2 to set up a quarter-final with Jack Lisowski, who beat Welshman Michael White 4-0.
Hossein Vafaei edged out Ryan Day 4-3 and will play Zhang Anda, who defeated Matthew Stevens 4-2.
RICKY WALDEN STUNS RONNIE O’SULLIVAN IN FINAL-FRAME DECIDER TO PROGRESS TO QUARTER-FINALS AT WELSH OPEN
Ricky Walden made runs of 54, 136 and 83 to beat Ronnie O’Sullivan 4-3 at the last-16 stage of the Welsh Open at Celtic Manor in Newport. The world No. 18 overcame a wobble in frames five and six against a resurgent O’Sullivan to move into the quarter-finals.
BY MARCUS FOLEY
Ricky Walden held off a resurgent Ronnie O’Sullivan to seal a spot in the quarter-finals of the Welsh Open courtesy of a 4-3 win.
The world No. 18 led 3-1 on the back of runs of 54 and 136 but breaks of 88 and 85 saw O’Sullivan force a final-frame decider. However, Walden held his nerve courtesy of an 83 to progress to the quarter-final stage where he will face the winner of Joe Perry and Kyren Wilson.
Walden drew first blood by taking the first frame. However, he did offer O’Sullivan the chance to pinch it after running out of position 70 ahead with 75 remaining; the chance went begging for the six-time world champion as he attempted to develop a red pegged against the rail, and, while it took two bites at the frame-ball red, Walden established a one-frame lead.
A difficult red to the green pocket set in motion the clearance to seal that frame and Walden was brimming with confidence as he set about the table to produce a total clearance of 126 to put himself within one frame of the quarter-finals. It represented his 26th century of the season, exactly double his total in the previous season.
At the start of the fifth – and potentially final frame – Walden turned down multiple opportunities to follow a red with a colour, each time electing to play safe. On the final occasion he did not get enough purchase on the cue ball and failed to roll up behind the brown. O’Sullivan collected the four points for a foul and a miss and although Walden escaped the snooker when put back in, the six-time world champion would cut the arrears courtesy of a timely 88.
The Rocket was first on the table in frame six but a jawed black brought the run to an end at 25. However, he would get another bite at sending the match to a decider. It was an opportunity he duly took, putting together an 85 to send the match to a one-frame shootout.
A long red to the bottom pocket offered Walden the opportunity to deny O’Sullivan passage to a 134th ranking event quarter-final, and he took it, producing a masterful 83 to beat the six-time world champion.
“He played a great match, a great break in the last frame, a brilliant pink. He deserved his victory,” said O’Sullivan.
“I’m over the moon for Ricky. There’s some real nice guys on the circuit and he’s one of them, I could never begrudge him any of his wins.
“I’m buzzing for him, he’s been through a lot, he’s a fighter and it’s good to see him back playing well and enjoying the game.”
Walden, 39, who has struggled with a back injury in the past, continues his current great form to reach his fifth ranking quarter-final of the season.
“It’s been well documented that I was injured for a while, my confidence went and my ranking went,” said Walden.
“I feel as though I’m on my way back now, I feel as though I’ve stabilised. I’m playing some good stuff and I’ve just got to keep working hard.
“It’s satisfying just to be out in the arena, let alone winning.
“It was a good match to play in. When you are playing Ronnie and you’re both going for shots it’s an enjoyable game to play and pleased to come over the line in the end.”
Those are the scores:
Despite Ronnie’s defeat in the end, I enjoyed watching the match, and so did the commentators and pundits if their reactions on social media are anything to go by.
I’m 100% certain that last Sunday, Ronnie “hit the wall”. He has really played a lot over the last two months and “overplaying” (as Clive Everton uses to say) never suits him. I was surprised that he actually decided to play in this one, and that he went that far.
I’m sure some will be disappointed … and moaning.
So here is a piece that David Hendon wrote a few days ago… just after Ronnie’s defeat to Fan Zhengyi
OPINION: THE JOY THAT RONNIE O’SULLIVAN PLAYING SNOOKER STILL PROVIDES IS NEEDED NOW MORE THAN EVER
If you love snooker, you can’t fail to be enthralled by Ronnie O’Sullivan’s mastery of the cue ball when he is on song, writes Dave Hendon. There is a curious beauty to how he sets about a break. There has never been anything quite like it. The joy that he still provides is needed more than ever. It can’t change the world but it can make our own world that little bit happier.
BY DAVE HENDON
Snooker’s latest late night drama did not let us down as Fan Zhengyi, a completely unheralded 21-year-old from Harbin in North Eastern China, edged out Ronnie O’Sullivan 10-9 to win the European Masters in Milton Keynes on Sunday.
Fan was 750-1 for the title at the start of the tournament. He was also the worthy winner. He played the better snooker throughout the final. His potting was fearless and he did not falter in the decider, making a 92 break to secure the title.
It was all the more special because of who he beat. O’Sullivan is a hero to a generation of players who have come along in his wake. To the rest of us, he represents something special: an unchanging pleasure amid the turmoil of real life.
The wider world offers plenty of reasons not to be cheerful: climate change, the deep polarisation of our society, a pandemic and now, horrifically, a war in Europe.
Watching the news channels last Thursday morning while doom-scrolling social media for the latest updates from Ukraine was a depressing experience.
A few hours later, we were watching Ronnie play snooker. It was a reminder of what a wonderful sight that is. He beat Ashley Hugill 5-2. It wasn’t his best ever performance, not even close, but he had a couple of centuries and cued nicely throughout. And we thoroughly enjoyed the whole show. It was like an oasis of sanity in a world apparently gone mad.
We come to sport for different reasons but more often than not it functions as a distraction from the daily grind of life. The much-missed Sunday Times journalist Hugh McIlvanney once wrote that “of all the things that don’t matter, sport matters the most“. At times of crisis a snooker tournament may seem a trivial sideshow, but these are precisely the moments when we need joy more than ever.
And watching O’Sullivan play snooker remains an immensely joyful experience. There is an artistry to the way he plays, a panache. You don’t see the working out. It appears to be instinctive.
So much of this is down to his own hard work. He clearly has a natural aptitude but has put countless hours into refining his craft. He had advantages too. When his father realised his talent he installed a full-sized table at their home and arranged for leading amateurs and some professionals to come and play him. O’Sullivan has since compared himself to a royal prince being groomed for the throne.
But he was special, that was obvious. By the age of 12 he was regularly beating adults. He turned professional at 16 and hit the ground running, winning 74 of 76 matches played in the summer qualifying school in Blackpool.
The following year, just short of turning 18, he won the UK Championship, one of snooker’s crown jewels, to announce himself in the public mind. Almost 30 years on, despite many off-table challenges, he is still there.
He now holds every record that counts except one. Stephen Hendry still has one more world title. O’Sullivan is 46 but not spent yet. This final mountain is still climbable.
But his stats, though impressive, don’t come close to explaining the fascination with O’Sullivan. In a sport in which many champions have been almost robotically self-controlled, he is irrepressibly human. His qualities and his frailties co-exist for all to see. He has no filter, for good and bad. His many fans project on to him their own neuroses. He gives people hope: you can be unconventional in this world and still be a success.
O’Sullivan has often given the impression that he is embarrassed by praise, as if there is a deep-seated reason he feels he is unworthy of it. He has frequently talked down his own performances, undercutting the enjoyment many have taken in them.
Perhaps he really doesn’t know how good he is. It could be that Mozart didn’t understand why any old member of the public couldn’t knock out a symphony. Geniuses rarely see themselves as others do. They are just doing the thing they are brilliant at. They don’t question where it comes from.
The European Masters struggled to establish much of a profile, shoved as it was into Milton Keynes because Covid regulations stopped it going ahead in Germany. After early shocks, the promotion of the event quickly revolved entirely around O’Sullivan’s presence.
Some players are resentful of this as they feel their achievements and performances are overlooked. They may have a point, but they should also get real. So much of the interest in snooker over the last three decades has been generated by O’Sullivan. He is the sport’s number one box office attraction and a player whose appeal extends beyond snooker itself.
Fan said last night it was a dream just to play him. Victoria Shi, who manages the new champion as well as Zhao Xintong and Yan Bingtao, spoke of O’Sullivan’s generosity towards the young Chinese contingent.
His own relationship with a game which has made him a millionaire is notoriously complex. He first threatened to retire when he was 18. No player has spent as much time openly pondering their future, but his future has ultimately always involved playing snooker.
He must love the game itself. He would not still be putting himself through practising and the slog of the circuit if he didn’t. But he doesn’t always love the sport – the commitments and sacrifices which go with being a professional and all the people who want a piece of his time.
For years he has had to listen to the endless opinions others have of him: supporters gushing and critics tut-tutting. Nothing is ever middle of the road with him. He has been celebrated and castigated in equal measure.
There have been times when O’Sullivan has behaved badly and said daft things. But haven’t we all? The difference is that for most of us the media are not hanging on our every word and then reporting it as great truth, rather than the random thoughts on our mind that day.
Whenever O’Sullivan has transgressed, he has been swiftly forgiven. He is exceptionally warm-hearted underneath it all. Like a partner or parent who has done or said something maddening, you remember after a few hours of being annoyed why you loved them in the first place.
Simply, it is the way that he plays. If you love snooker, you can’t fail to be enthralled by his mastery of the cue ball when he is on song. There is a curious beauty to how he sets about a break. There has never been anything quite like it.
The joy that he still provides is needed more than ever. It can’t change the world but it can make our own world that little bit happier. And more than any trophy he has won, that is O’Sullivan’s invaluable contribution to snooker.
This is certainly true for me, Ronnie was the reason I started watching snooker, the reason I wanted to get involved in this sport. The part I put in blue is particularly true and some of the media – not all, far from it – have not always been fair to him either. I have been at press conferences where 90% of what Ronnie said was nice and yet, in the aftermath of those post-matches interviews, most of the press focused on one or two sentences, often taken out of context, to create a “story”.
I have been involved in snooker blogs and forums since 2007. There are always “fans” who see every Ronnie defeat as a big drama, some cry, some get angry, some hate his sucessful opponents (who are only doing their job), some hate HIM … until the next win.
Please people, get real, it’s only a match of snooker. Look at the state of our world. We might be on the verge of World War III …
Ronnie has given us all so much joy, as well as a few heartbreaks of course. He’ll be turning 47 this year. We should enjoy what he still provides … he won’t be there forever.
Thank you Ronnie.