2022 British Open – The Quarter-finals

Those are WST reports about the quarter-finals at the 2022 British Open yesterday.

Afternoon session

Allen And Williams Into Semis

Mark Allen became hot favourite for the Cazoo British Open title as he beat Mark Selby 5-3 to reach the semi-finals, remaining on course for a seventh career ranking crown.

Allen followed up yesterday’s victory over Judd Trump by knocking out another of snooker’s top guns, and the world number 14 is the highest ranked player left in the field in Milton Keynes. He will play in the first semi-final from 1pm on Saturday afternoon (live on the main ITV channel) with the random draw for the last four to be made this evening.

On the other table, Robbie Williams beat Lyu Haotian 5-1 to reach the semi-finals of a ranking event for the third time in his career. The world number 61 is now guaranteed £20,000, his second-biggest pay day.

Northern Ireland’s 36-year-old Allen is seeking his first title since winning his home tournament in Belfast last October. Having lost over four stone in weight over the summer, he has come into the new season full of confidence. The Pistol had lost his previous two meetings with Selby, but proved the stronger player at the business end of today’s contest.

Four-time Crucible king Selby started strongly with a break of 123 in the opening frame, then Allen took a scrappy second before making a superb 143 to lead 2-1. In frame four, Selby missed a mid-range red to a corner pocket on 34 and his opponent punished him with a 75 clearance.

After the interval, Leicester’s Selby made a 103 to close the gap to 3-2, then got the better of a safety exchange on the penultimate red in frame six and took the chance to level the tie. In the crucial seventh frame, Selby led 51-12 when his attempted long pot on the third-last red missed by several inches. Allen made an excellent 47 to regain the lead, and a long red early in the eighth set him up for a match-winning 126.

I’m very proud of the clearance I made at 3-3 because the balls were tough,” said Allen. “I felt I was being frozen out of the match up until that point. Mark’s safety was immaculate, every time I came to the table I had no shot. I stayed patient and showed a lot of character in the end.

I’m sure I’ll be favourite to win the tournament now but all of the other guys still in the field are there for a reason – they have all played well this week and they are all dangerous. Whoever I draw next is going to be very tough.

Williams, age 35 from the Wirral, reached his two previous ranking semi-finals at the 2013 Indian Open and 2022 BetVictor Shoot Out.

After losing the opening frame today, he trailed 55-0 in the second, but hit back to win it on the colours. That proved a turning point as Williams took the next four frames in a row with a top break of 49.

I didn’t score well today but it was all about getting the win,” said Williams, whose biggest scalp this week was Ding Junhui in the last 32. “The main thing for me is concentration. In the past I have struggled with keeping my focus at the big moments, but I have managed to do that this week. That has made a huge difference.

These are the opportunities I want to grasp because it helps me get into the other ITV events later in the season. A run like this can kickstart a whole career. I wasn’t playing well today but I kept reminding myself to stay focussed and stick in there.

Evening session

Jones Toppled By Noppon Effect

Thailand’s Noppon Saengkham overcame an attack of nerves as he moved a step closer to a first ranking title, beating Jamie Jones 5-3 to reach the semi-finals of the Cazoo British Open.

Saengkham appeared in two ranking semi-finals in 2018, at the Yushan World Open and Welsh Open, and now has the chance to reach his first final. He will face Mark Allen at 1pm on Saturday in Milton Keynes, a match televised live on the main ITV channel. World number 38 Saengkham finished last season strongly, reaching the last 16 of the World Championship, and has carried that momentum into the new campaign.

Defeat has a silver lining for Jones as his schedule is now clear for him to run the London Marathon on Sunday, raising money for WST’s official charity Jessie May Children’s Hospice at Home.

Breaks of 61 and 89 gave Saengkham a 2-0 lead tonight, then Jones fought back to 2-2. A run of 102 saw Saengkham regain the advantage, but he made more errors as the winning line drew close and Jones recovered to 3-3.

In frame seven, an excellent pot on a red to a centre pocket set up Saengkham for a run of 63 to go 4-3 up. Both players missed clear opportunities in the eighth, but when Jones made a safety mistake with three reds left it proved his last shot as his opponent scored the points he needed.

At 4-3 I thought my heart was going to jump out of body,” said former World Under-21 Champion Saengkham. “I told myself to calm down. I was nervous, I couldn’t control my hands. I missed easy balls, so I tried to relax and I just hoped I would get more chances. There was lots of pressure. I think I will enjoy tomorrow’s match more because I will be facing a top 16 player.

In the other quarter-final, Ryan Day made a fantastic total clearance in the deciding frame to beat Yuan Sijun 5-4. The Welshman will now meet Robbie Williams on Saturday at 7pm.

World number 27 Day has won three ranking titles – the 2017 Riga Masters, 2018 Gibraltar Open and 2021 Shoot Out – and this is his first semi-final since that Shoot Out triumph 20 months ago.

Day and Yuan shared the first four frames – the Chinese player making the bigger breaks with 74 and 68. Yuan then took a scrappy fifth frame and had a chance to go 4-2 ahead but missed the final pink to a top corner when he trailed 61-51. Day potted the pink for 3-3 and made a 50 in the next to edge ahead.

Yuan dominated frame eight to make it 4-4, but didn’t have a chance in the decider as 42-year-old Day made a 124.

Day said: “It wasn’t the best game but I stuck in there. To win it with a big break gives me a big confidence boost. I tried to play fast and not get bogged down. There were nerves tonight on both tables, you could sense that. Tomorrow night is a big opportunity for both me and Robbie.”

Mark Selby congratulated Mark Allen on social media and insisted that there were many positives despite the defeat. In particular, he said that his mental health is improving which, of course, is much more important than any match of snooker.

Lyu Haotian collapsed. He won the first frame, was well ahead in the second, missed, lost it and basically further disintegrated as the match went on. He had chances in every frame. It’s sad to see. I had hoped that he was coming back to his best, and technically he probably is, but mentally he remains extremely fragile.

Yuan Sijun, on the other hand, gave a good account of himself. With a bit more experience in the latter stages of events, he will become extremely dangerous.

This afternoon, we will start with Mark Allen vs Noppon Saengkham. Allen is favourite of course but I wouldn’t dismiss Noppon’s chances. I would love to see him win a big event and it would do snooker in Thailand a world of good.

Regarding the evening match, Ryan Day is much more experienced than Robbie Williams when it comes to playing on the TV table in the latter stages of a big event. But Ryan has not always handled pressure that well and Robbie is very capable to create an upset.

One thought on “2022 British Open – The Quarter-finals

  1. There were scoreboard issues, particularly on Table 2, which caused some random delays and probably only made the players more nervous. It’s ridiculous that something like that should take 5-10 minutes to fix.

    Lyu Haotian lost 3 black-ball frames to go 3-1 down, and should have won each of them. It was a major choke. After the interval it was just a question of how long it would take for Williams to win 5-1. What might help Lyu and Yuan Sijun is to play some tournaments in China in front of a supportive crowd. Noppon Saengkham and Jamie Jones were also nervous, aware of the great opportunity for each of the ‘other’ 7 players in these Q-finals. Mark Allen might be beaten, but he’s a huge favourite to win the tournament.

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