The 2022 Turkish Masters – Day 1 in Antalya

Before looking a the matches’ results, I’d like to say a few words about the setup. I do like it. It reminds me of the numerous amateur events I went to that were held in big hotels. The last one I was able to attend was the first WSF Championships in Malta.

It’s usually great both for the players and the fans. Everything is on site, players, referees, officials are all in the same hotel, along with most of the media and many fans who have the opportunity to meet the players outside the context of their matches. There is a feeling of “community” that isn’t there when the actual venue is used only for the matches. Also it usually means that practice is available at the same hotel, and often “open” all day and night …

The setup itself is looking nice in the main arena. The side tables, on the other hand appear to be quite isolated and “dull”. That’s a shame for the players who are playing on those tables. That said, it used to be like that in WST main ranking events years ago before the “open plan” became the norm, at least for UK based events.

Another nice thing to see is the variety of sponsors: the hotel itself, airlines, sports centers, a brand od insecticide, a radio station … that’s refreshingly different from the endless procession of bookies we see in the other events.

Here are the reports by WST:

Afternoon session

Wilson Thrilled With Turkey Trip

Kyren Wilson is hoping for a deep run at the Nirvana Turkish Masters to give himself the chance to enjoy snooker’s first ever tournament in the region and he made the perfect start with a 5-0 victory over Rory McLeod.

Snooker history is made this week with the first pro event in Turkey staged at the outstanding Nirvana Cosmopolitan Hotel in the beautiful city of Antalya.

World number five Wilson fired breaks of 60, 116, 83, 85 and 100 as he set up a last 64 match with Tian Pengfei. The match lasted just 52 minutes, giving Wilson plenty of time to relax.

I have really missed trips like this, we get treated like royalty when we come to these countries,” said the Kettering cueman, winner of four ranking titles. “It’s great to see it supported well by new fans. When you are happy and comfortable in the environment then it brings the best out of you. The hotel is fantastic, the food and facilities are amazing and the venue is a lovely set up. I’m going to enjoy the week.

It was a good start for me today, every time I went into the balls I landed perfect so I’m delighted with my performance. My positional play is improving – in the past I might have had a problem adapting to a new cloth on the TV table, but today I put on good show. My career went to another level when I reached the world final in 2020, since then I have shown a lot of consistency.

Zhao Xintong had a much tougher match but came from 4-3 down to beat Michael White 5-4 and earn a last 32 clash with Matthew Selt. China’s Zhao made a crucial break of 60 in the last frame, and despite winning two ranking titles already this season he is determined not to lose his hunger for success.

I don’t want to give my opponent an easy game,” said the world number seven. “I want to keep going and winning matches. I don’t feel any pressure. Even at 4-3 down today I just tried to play my game. Michael White used to be a top 16 player and I hope he will get back there.”

Turkish national champion Ismail Turker made his debut in a pro event but went down 5-0 to Thepchaiya Un-Nooh, whose top break was 101. Martin Gould came from 4-1 down to beat David Grace 5-4, firing runs of 56, 85, 105 and 123 in the last four frames.

Michael Holt, who is in danger of tour relegation this season, scored a crucial 5-4 win over Lukas Kleckers in a match which came down to the final black. After a safety exchange, Holt slotted the black into a centre pocket before punching the air in celebration. Selt edged out Alexander Ursenbacher 5-4 thanks to a 31 clearance in the decider.

The Zhao Xintong vs Michael White match was an entertaining one. Zhao is clearly working on his safety and has become more cautious, maybe a bit too much at times. Michael White really should be on the tour.

Evening session

Higgins Too Strong For ‘Raw’ Emery

John Higgins eased into the last 32 of the Nirvana Turkish Masters with a 5-2 victory, but had plenty of praise for his amateur opponent, Dylan Emery.

Scotland’s Higgins is seeking his first ranking title of the season having lost in three finals, though he did win the invitational BetVictor Championship League last month. The 46-year-old has shown a high level of consistency over the campaign and hopes for a strong run-up to the Crucible over the coming weeks.

Welsh 20-year-old Emery will play on the pro tour for the first time next season having won the European Under-21 Championship and has plenty of potential. He took a scrappy opening frame tonight before Higgins levelled with a break of 106.

The third came down to the colours and Emery converted an excellent long pot on the blue to a baulk corner, but then missed a far easier pink to middle. Higgins went for a long pink and it rattled in the jaws of a top corner before crossing the table and dropping into a centre pocket.

That stroke of good fortune proved a turning point as Higgins pulled away to lead 4-1. Emery made a 55 in frame six as he pulled one back, but Higgins soon sealed the result with a tremendous 128 in the seventh.

Dylan is getting himself ready for the tour now and he’ll do well there,” said four-time World Champion Higgins, who meets Michael Holt next. “He’s a bit raw now which is understandable, but he has a lot of tools to his game and he could be a very good player. He missed a few tonight and I was lucky to fluke the pink to go 2-1 up. I made a nice break to finish the match.”

Higgins has been to the host city Antalya several times before on holiday, and will be joined by his wife and daughter later in the week. He added: “It’s a lovely place, the people are very welcoming. It was great to see the crowd tonight, the people are so happy to have the top players here.”

The Wishaw cueman also paid tribute to Joe Perry who won a ranking event on UK soil for the first time with victory at the BetVictor Welsh Open. “I’m really pleased for Joe,” he said. “It was a special moment for his mum and dad and he beat some amazing players. It’s great to see him lift a trophy, I’m chuffed to bits for him.

Amateur Si Jiahui top scored with 106 as he recorded a surprise 5-2 victory over world number 13 Anthony McGill. China’s Si came into the event full of confidence having won the recent WSF Open and took another top 16 scalp, having knocked Shaun Murphy out of the UK Championship earlier in the season.

Chinese rookie Wu Yize impressed in a 5-1 win over Haydon Pinhey, knocking in breaks of 91, 74, 68, 52, 64 and 111.

Wu Yize made the most of the opportunity offered by Mark Selby’s withdrawal. I didn’t see much else yesterday …