We reached the last 16 at the end of day 4 in Antalya and here are WST reports on what happened at the table.
Murphy Revels In Chance To Help Snooker Grow
After scoring a 5-3 success over Jimmy Robertson in the third round of the inaugural Nirvana Turkish Masters, Shaun Murphy described the part he has played in developing snooker as a global sport as one of the most fulfilling elements of his career.
Former World Champion Murphy has won tournaments in countries including Brazil, China, Malta, Belgium, Ireland, Poland, Bulgaria and Germany and is recognised as one of the sport’s finest ambassadors. He is enjoying the opportunity to compete in the first ever ranking event in Turkey.
“This is a fabulous event, a really good addition to the tour,” said the 39-year-old. “I certainly enjoy taking snooker to new territories, I have been part of that group of players over the last 20 years who have tried to make the game better. When the end of my career comes, my dream is that I have helped make snooker a better tour than it was when I joined in 1998.
“We come out to new countries like this where snooker is popular through Eurosport and other broadcasters and it’s great to be here and put on a good show for the fans. I came to Turkey on holiday soon after I won the world title in 2005 and was well aware that snooker was popular in this part of the world, so it’s no surprise to me that we have a big tournament here now.”
Today’s victory over Robertson put Murphy into the last 16 of a ranking event for only the third time this season. Having struggled with a neck injury for most of the campaign, he lies 38th on the one-year ranking list.
Trailing 2-1, Murphy made a break of 91 to level the tie then took the 43-minute fifth frame on the colours after Robertson had missed the brown to a centre pocket. A run of 95 from Robertson restored parity at 3-3, but he potted just one ball in the last two frames as Murphy closed out the tie and earned a meeting with Jak Jones in the last 16.
“I am very relieved,” Murphy added. “I came here with very few wins under my belt this season, so each match is an opportunity for me to try a few different things. There’s still a distant chance of me qualifying for the Tour Championship, if everyone else retires! I’m trying my best as always and thrilled to still be here.”
Ding Junhui came from 3-1 down to beat Kyren Wilson 5-3 and reach the last 16 of a ranking event for only the second time this season. China’s 34-year-old Ding hasn’t won a title since the 2019 UK Championship and has slipped to 32nd in the world rankings.
Breaks of 75, 103 and 100 put him 4-3 up today and he sealed victory in a 64-minute eighth frame, ending a long safety battle on the colours with a superb long pot on the pink to a baulk corner.
“It was a good game,” said 14-time ranking event winner Ding. “Kyren played well at the start and I missed some chances. Then he got a bit angry because he was not scoring well. The game changed. There is a big pressure for me because I keep dropping down the rankings and it’s a long way to get back up. I have to focus on practice and concentrate in matches.
“Chinese players are winning tournaments now which is good for the snooker market. I am looking forward to seeing more of them winning titles. When I was first winning tournaments they were little boys. It’s good to watch them grow up and improve their game, and to have been their hero.”
Thepchaiya Un-Nooh improved his chances of keeping his tour card at the end of the season by beating Jordan Brown 5-1, compiling breaks of 92, 72 and 51. Un-Nooh is now guaranteed £7,500 this week and the result lifts the former Shoot Out champion into the top 64 of the provisional end of season rankings.
Jak Jones followed up yesterday’s 5-4 win over Mark Allen with another deciding frame victory, against Hossein Vafaei. Breaks of 102 and 101 helped put Vafaei 4-2 ahead and he had chances to finish the match in frames seven and eight, but it was Welshman Jones who won the last three with a top run of 94.
Martin Gould came from 4-3 down to edge out Jack Lisowski 5-4 while Oliver Lines saw off Andrew Higginson 5-3 with a top run of 113.
Shaun Murphy is indeed amongst the group of players who always liked to travel and play in “new” territories. I’m surprised though that he didn’t mention his late manager and friend Brandon Parker because Brandon played a big part in that too. Turkey though is not a “virgin” country when it comes to cue sports, although their “traditional cue sport” is 3-cushions billiard and they have many excellent players in that discipline. The best, and most famous of them is Semih Sayginer and he’s a true magician. Jason Ferguson is a great fan of Semih
Here is a video of Semih in action against Dick Jaspers from the Netherlands. Dick is currently the best in that business
For those who don’t know the rules of that discipline, they are quite simple: there are only 3 balls on the table, a white, a yellow and a red. One player uses the white as a cue ball, the other one uses the yellow. The goal for the player at the table is “simple”: they have to hit the red and the other player’s cue ball, in any order, and before hitting the second ball they must have hit at least three cushions as well. Simple? yes … but horribly difficult! Each successful shot earns them a point. If they miss, their opponent comes at the table. The goal is either to be the first to a certain number of points or to to get the most points in over a fixed duration. There is a shot-clock.
But back to snooker…
The best match in those two sessions was Ding v Kyren Wilson. It was really very high quality.
Here is the end of the match:
It’s a very unusual situation there: with only pink and black on the table, Kyren found himself snookered on the pink, and was awarded a free ball. Kyren could have snookered Ding behind the black despite the free ball situation as with only pink and black remaining this is actually allowed and it’s the only case when it’s allowed. He could also, maybe, have nominated the black as a pink, and planted the actual pink in the pocket off it. I write maybe because what you see on television can be misleading and the “true” pink was not right over the pocket. I’m not sure that shot was really on. But he did neither… Maybe he didn’t remember that exception to the normal free ball rule. It would be interesting to hear from Kyren on this.
Liang Succumbs To Trump Pressure
Judd Trump’s return to form gathered pace as he came from 4-1 down to beat Liang Wenbo 5-4 and reach the last 16 of the Nirvana Turkish Masters in Antalya.
Trump cited Liang’s tendency to make mistakes when close to the winning post as a key factor as he reeled off the last four frames to book a fourth round meeting with Zhou Yuelong. Bristol’s Trump hasn’t won a ranking title for a year but tonight’s result will give him a huge injection of confidence as he targets the £100,000 top prize at the first ever pro tournament in Turkey.
Former World Champion Trump reached the final of the BetVictor Welsh Open last week and he believes he is close to his best. As it stands, the 32-year-old is 11th on the one-year ranking list but if he reaches the final this week he’ll be into the top eight and on course for a place in the Cazoo Tour Championship later this month.
A break of 116 gave Trump the opening frame tonight but he spent most of the next four frames in his chair as China’s Liang fired runs of 55, 96 and 118. Trump made a 59 in frame six as he began the fight-back by making it 4-2.
Frames seven and eight both came down to the last red, and on both occasions it was Liang who made a safety error, handing his opponent the chance to recover to 4-4. Early in the decider, Liang went for a tough long red but missed his target, and that proved his last meaningful shot as Trump complied a match-winning run of 72.
“It was looking bad at 4-1, he was playing unbelievable stuff, I only missed one or two balls,” said Trump, winning of 22 ranking titles. “That was the best I have seen him for a while, there wasn’t much I could do. I have seen in the past that he struggles to get over the winning line. After the interval I was just trying to keep it close and put him under pressure. He started to miss a few and I started to believe I could win. I tried not to give him any easy chances. In the last frame he went for a tough red and let me in.
“I’m so happy to have got through that one, it feels like an achievement. I have got another life now. This is a big tournament for me, coming off the back of a good run last week and I am trying to find some form. It would have been difficult to lose early. I want to be at every event including the Tour Championship, I am here to try to win this one, but if I could do that it will come with that top eight place as a bonus.”
Zhou edged out Luca Brecel 5-4 to reach the last 16 of a ranking event for the third time this season. The Chinese cueman took the deciding frame with a break of 71.
Ali Carter came from 3-0 down to beat Matthew Stevens 5-4 in a tremendous match which featured a century and eight more breaks over 50. Stevens fired runs of 67, 104, 68 and 63 during the contest but was eclipsed by Carter who made breaks of 74, 78, 90, 98 and a vital 60 clearance in the decider.
Last 16 line-up
Lu Ning v Martin Gould
Thepchaiya Un-Nooh v Matthew Selt
John Higgins v Graeme Dott
Si Jiahui v Ding Junhui
Oliver Lines v Yan Bingtao
Jak Jones v Shaun Murphy
Ali Carter v Sam Craigie
Zhou Yuelong v Judd Trump
It is a good result for Zhou who needs to rebuild his confidence. Si Jiahui continues to beat the pros much to the anger of quite a few. Oliver Lines is also quietly improving. And Jak Jones is really showing how good he is this week. This tournament is turning into a seriously interesting one.