Day 5 in Antaly saw two rounds – the last 16 and the QFs – played to a conclusion.
Here are the reports by WST:
Dott Holds Nerve To Stun Higgins
Graeme Dott made an excellent clearance in the deciding frame to beat John Higgins 5-4 and set up a quarter-final with Ding Junhui at the Nirvana Turkish Masters.
Victory in the all-Scottish clash sees Dott continue his recent run of form as he reached the semi-finals of the recent BetVictor European Masters.
Higgins made a 141, the highest break of the week so far, in the second frame and later came from 3-2 down to lead 4-3. He had a chance of victory in frame eight but missed a tricky pot on the final brown to a baulk corner when he trailed by 19 points. Dott potted the brown to a centre pocket for 4-4.
First chance in the decider went to Dott and he made 28, then Higgins replied with 32 before running out of position and playing safe. When Dott knocked in a long red it didn’t look like a match-winning opportunity as there were two reds tight to cushions, but he picked them off and went on to make a superb 50.
“It was a good break,” admitted Dott, chasing his first ranking title since 2007. “I always enjoy playing John because he’s the best ever, and you find out where your own game is. To beat him when he has been playing well gives me a lot of confidence. I will need to play well again tonight.”
The result leaves Higgins uncertain of his place at the Cazoo Tour Championship later this month. He is currently seventh on the one-year ranking list but other players could overtake him this week.
Ding showed glimpses of the form which has won him 14 ranking titles as he edged out amateur Si Jiahui 5-4 in an high quality battle. China’s Ding compiled breaks of 64, 93, 73, 127 but still trailed 4-3, then hit back with 105 and 97 to take the last two frames and reach his first ranking event quarter-final since the 2021 German Masters.
In yet another match which went to a decider, Martin Gould beat Lu Ning 5-4 thanks to a run of 61 in the decider. He now faces Matthew Selt, who knocked out Zhao Xintong in the previous round and kept his fine run going with a 5-1 defeat of Thepchaiya Un-Nooh, scoring breaks of 72, 80 and 61.
I’m glad to see Dotty playing well again. He’s a straightforward no-nonsense guy who always speaks his mind honestly. He has an undeserved reputation of being a “slow, boring player”. He’s an attaquing player and he’s not slow. That tag came with the 2006 World Final, whih he won, beating Peter Ebdon at ungodly hours. They were both exhausted and you can trust Ebdon to turn any match into a slog fest if he thinks it will derail his opponent.
Ding is improving with every match and I’m very happy with that as well.
Trump Survives Again
Judd Trump continued his quest to win the inaugural Nirvana Turkish Masters as he recovered from 4-3 down to beat Zhou Yuelong 5-4 and reach the quarter-finals.
Martin Gould v Matthew Selt
Graeme Dott v Ding Junhui
Oliver Lines v Shaun Murphy
Ali Carter v Judd Trump
It’s a second consecutive successful fight back for Trump as on Thursday night he battled from 4-1 behind to score a 5-4 success over Liang Wenbo. This time, Zhou failed to capitalise on several chances to knock out the world number three.
Bristol’s Trump is looking to end a year-long drought without a ranking title, though he has won the invitational Cazoo Champion of Champions this season.
Zhou took a 2-0 lead with a top break of 91, then Trump made a 71 in the third and took the fourth by potting a clever long double on the final pink. A break of 79 in the fifth put him 3-2 ahead.
In the sixth frame, Zhou had a chance to clear from 41 points behind and made it to the final black before missing a tough pot along the top cushion. Trump went for a risky thin cut on the black to the same corner but left it hanging in the jaws and Zhou potted it to square the tie. The Chinese cueman dominated the next to lead 4-3.
Zhou had opportunities to finish the match in the eighth, notably missing a thin cut on a red to a centre pocket when he led 47-26. Trump battled his way back into the frame and eventually sealed it on the colours after trapping his opponent in a tough snooker on the yellow.
The key moment of the decider came when Zhou, trailing 22-1, went for a difficult red to a centre pocket and narrowly missed his target, letting Trump in for a run of 30 which was enough for victory.
He will now face Ali Carter, who beat Sam Craigie 5-0 with a top break of 135 to reach his second consecutive ranking event quarter-final having made it to the same stage of the BetVictor Welsh Open.
Oliver Lines reached the quarter-finals of a ranking event for the first time with one of his best wins of his career, beating former Masters champion Yan Bingtao 5-4. Lines is now guaranteed £12,500 and his run has hugely improved his chances of keeping his tour card for next season as he is now up to 59th in the provisional end of season rankings.
Breaks of 77, 57, 59 and 50 helped put Lines 4-2 ahead, then Yan fought back to 4-4 with 116 and 119. But Leeds cueman Lines got the better of a scrappy 45-minute decider to earn a tie with Shaun Murphy.
Having decided not to enter the BetVictor Gibraltar Open, Yan is now out of the running for the Cazoo Tour Championship and faces an anxious wait to find out whether he will be among the top 16 seeds for the Crucible.
Murphy fired breaks of 51, 70, 69, 81, 61 and 65 to beat Jak Jones 5-3 and reach his second ranking quarter-final of the season.
This may sound harsh and a “dig” at Judd Trump but honestly it is not: Trump did not win that match, Zhou lost it from a strong winning position. It’s sad to see how Zhou now looks completely devoid of confidence and keeps losing matches he could and probably should have won. The young man needs help because the longer this pattern lasts, the harder it becomes for him.
I’m not sure why Yan decided not to enter the Gibraltar Open but it may well prove to be a costly mistake – literally. That said Oliver Lines was impressive, he has been all week. We all know that he has the talent to be a top player. Hopefully he’s coming to age now. He’s a very entertaining player to watch.
Murphy Beats Lines In Last-Gasp Drama
Shaun ‘Magician’ Murphy pulled a marvellous deciding frame clearance out of his box of tricks to beat Oliver Lines 5-4 and reach the semi-finals of the Nirvana Turkish Masters.
Lines, playing in his first ranking event quarter-final, couldn’t take advantage of the chances he had in the last frame and had to watch from his chair as his opponent executed a series of brilliant pots in a break of 44 to snatch victory on the final black. In the semi-finals on Saturday evening in Antalya, Murphy will face Judd Trump, who scored a 5-3 victory over Ali Carter.
Former World Champion Murphy has struggled for form and fitness for most of this season, plagued by a persistent neck injury. But he proved tonight that he can still produce dazzling snooker when his game clicks into place. The 39-year-old, Crucible runner-up last year, is through to his first semi-final of the season.
The first four frames tonight were shared then Murphy took the lead in the fifth with breaks of 43 and 40. Frame six came down to a safety battle on the green, and when Murphy missed a tough long pot he handed Lines the chance to make it 3-3. Lines edged 4-3 ahead only for world number ten Murphy to respond with a 106.
The vital moment of the decider came when Lines, leading 48-9 and just two pots from the winning post, under-cut a tricky red to a top corner, playing with the rest. Murphy cracked in a mid-range red to start his clearance and never looked back.
“I really feel for Oli because he’s a class player, he’s got every shot in the book, he’s had his best run this week and there is bound to be more to come,” said Murphy. “It was the biggest match of his career but also the biggest of my year. I got to the final in Sheffield last year but since then I have done nothing, it has been a terrible season, really frustrating. I have kept pushing and to win the way I did tonight – at least I know I have not forgotten how to do it. I pulled a rabbit from the hat.
“Judd is so consistent, he wins a lot of matches on reputation, a lot of people are intimidated by him. I have proved that I’m not. We are both Triple Crown winners. I think it will be a really good game of snooker.”
Trump’s victory over Carter kept him on course for a 23rd career ranking title and first since the 2021 BetVictor Gibraltar Open.
Carter made a 133 in frame six to level at 3-3, then in the crucial seventh frame had a chance to clear from 44-0 down. He potted the final brown to go 8 points ahead but left the cue ball on the baulk cushion, and missed a tough long blue to a top corner. Trump took blue, pink and black to go 4-3 ahead then closed out the match with an excellent 96 in frame eight.
“This is probably the worst I have played for ten years, but I am trying my heart out and somehow getting through,” said world number three Trump. “It’s not pretty and there’s no way I can win the tournament like this, but I’m still here. It’s not enjoyable playing like this, it’s a struggle.
“At 3-3 Ali went for a tough blue, I was surprised he went for it. There are no right or wrong shots but Ali is usually one to try to force a mistake with a safety, but he was obviously feeling great at the time. I made a good clearance to go 4-3 up and then in the last frame I took my chance well, that was the best I felt.”
Ding Junhui reached his first ranking event semi-final since the 2019 UK Championship by beating Graeme Dott 5-1. China’s Ding has been in tremendous form this week, making seven centuries and nine more breaks over 50, and tonight he fired runs of 72, 102 and 64.
His next opponent will be Matthew Selt, who reached the fourth ranking event semi-final of his career with a 5-3 defeat of Martin Gould. Essex cueman Selt won his first ranking title at the 2019 Indian Open and is just two matches away from doubling that tally.
From 2-0 down, he scored breaks of 89, 90 and 118 in taking a 4-2 lead. Gould pulled one back before Selt clinched victory in frame eight with a 58 clearance.
Saturday’s semi-finals (local time)
2.30pm Ding Junhui v Matthew Selt
8pm Judd Trump v Shaun Murphy
Baically nothing to add to the above comments… it was more of the same.
Crucial Moments In The Race To Llandudno
The last three days of the Nirvana Turkish Masters are sure to have a significant impact on the battle for a place in the top eight of the one year ranking list and a spot in the Cazoo Tour Championship.
Only the elite top eight will head for Llandudno in North Wales for the final event of the 2021/22 Cazoo Series, which runs from March 28 to April 3. And after this week’s tournament in Antalya, only one counting event remains – the BetVictor Gibraltar Open (March 24 to 26).
Hossein Vafaei currently occupies eighth position but his 5-4 reverse against Jak Jones on Thursday means he can’t add to his tally this week. Hot on his heels is Yan Bingtao, just £4,500 behind, which means that if Yan beats Oliver Lines on Friday afternoon he reaches the quarter-finals and adds £5,000 to his total which would put him above Vafaei. However, Yan has decided not to enter the Gibraltar event so all of his eggs are very much in a Turkish basket.
Ricky Walden is tied with Yan but out of the running this week so he’ll need a deep run in Gibraltar. Next in line is Judd Trump, £10,500 behind Vafaei, so a semi-final run for the former World Champion could get him into the top eight, though Trump will no doubt be targeting the £100,000 top prize which would secure his place in Llandudno.
Ali Carter, Matthew Selt, Graeme Dott, Martin Gould, Shaun Murphy, Zhou Yuelong and Jak Jones are also in action today and all have a chance of moving into the top eight by winning the tournament.
The Cazoo Tour Championship could then have a crucial impact on the Race to the Crucible, as a spot in Llanduno comes with a guarantee of £20,000 for first round losers.
Basically, Judd Trump is now in the Tour Championship draw, and Yan is out of it. However, if Shaun Murphy were to to beat him today he would not be safe. Indeed both Matthew Selt and Shaun Murphy could overtake him by winning the tournament. Ding can’t get in the draw this week no matter what.
Regarding the race to the Crucible, a win today would see Judd Trump swap place with Neil Robertson. Even winning this tournament would not put either Ding or Selt in the top 16. But it would put them on 17th… a run to the Final in Gibraltar would see either of them overtake Yan Bingtao who would then need to qualify. Actually, if they were both to reach the final, Mark Allen could need to qualify as well.