2022 UK Championship – The last 16

As we reach the quarter-finals in York, only one member of the top 8 remains in the draw: Ronnie. Three more seeds are still in the competition: Mark Allen, Shaun Murphy and Jack Lisowski.

You can read about Ronnie’s win over Zhou here

Here are the reports by WST, covering the last 16 round:

Wednesday afternoon (minus Ronnie’s match)

On the other table, Tom Ford beat Luca Brecel 6-3 to reach the quarter-finals of this event for the second time. Ford’s previous appearance in the last eight in York came in 2018 when he beat Joe Perry before losing to O’Sullivan in the semis. This time he could face Perry again, or Stuart Bingham.

Leicester’s Ford had a slow start to the season, losing in the first round of four ranking events, but has now found his game, winning two qualifying matches to make it to the Barbican then seeing off John Higgins and Brecel.

Ford went 2-0 up with a top break of 70 and he led 54-0 in the next but Brecel hit back to take it with an excellent 61 clearance. In frame four, Ford was up 54-8 with three reds left when he ran out of position, and again Brecel cleared to go to the interval at 2-2. Leicester’s Ford regained the lead with a run of 79.

Frame six came down to a safety battle on the green, resolved when Brecel clipped in a long pot and cleared the table to square the tie at 3-3. Once again it was Ford who edged ahead thanks to a run of 100, and he got the better of a safety tussle on the last red in frame eight, clearing to lead 5-3. The 39-year-old dominated frame nine to reach the 15th ranking quarter-final of his career.

I played well in patches,” said Ford. “Just to get over the line and get to the next round it was a big win for me because that puts me into the World Grand Prix I think. I’m feeling better as the matches go on.

It would mean a lot to get to the semis, it would give me a big confidence boost. Before this event I’d hardly won a game this season, so getting into the quarters of the UK is a great achievement.”

I can’t comment on this one, as I didn’t watch it at all.

Wednesday evening

Craigie To Meet Allen In Quarters

Sam Craigie kept his fantastic run going at the Cazoo UK Championship, beating Ryan Day 6-4 to reach the second ranking event quarter-final of his career.

After winning two matches to qualify for the Barbican, Craigie knocked out defending champion Zhao Xintong, and has now beaten in-form Day who won the Cazoo British Open last month. His next opponent on Friday is Mark Allen, who scored a 6-3 success against Kyren Wilson.

Craigie’s only previous run to the last eight of a ranking event came at the China Open in 2019, when Neil Robertson ended his progress. Victory over Allen would mean his deepest run since turning pro in 2011, as well as his biggest pay day. The 29-year-old from Newcastle-Upon-Tyne is enjoying the most consistent year of his career as he also reached the last 16 of the German Masters and Turkish Masters early in 2022, and is set to break into the top 40 of the world rankings.

He made three centuries tonight – 103, 130 and 103 – helping him to a 4-2 lead. Day made 52 and 112 as he fought back to 4-4, but Craigie took frame nine with runs of 41 and 36 then clinched the result in frame ten with a 77.

I know I had some good breaks but I didn’t feel I was going to score today and I lost the white a few times,” said Craigie, who won the World Under-21 Championship back in 2010, beating his brother Stephen 7-6 in the semi-finals and Li Hang 9-8 in the final. “Ryan put me under pressure at 4-4 so I was pleased to come through that. If I can score heavily, someone will have to play well to beat me.

I had friends in the crowd tonight plus my fair share of support from the neutrals so I really appreciate that. I’m looking forward to playing Mark Allen because I really get on with him, and hopefully it will be a good game for the fans.”

Northern Ireland’s Allen is arguably the player of the season so far having won the Northern Ireland Open and reached the final of the Cazoo British Open. He is now through to the UK Championship quarter-finals for the sixth time and has his sights set on the trophy, having finished runner-up in 2011 and 2018.

Wilson took the first two frames tonight with a top break of 67, but Allen took control as the contest progressed. The world number nine won six of the next seven frames with top breaks of 60, 70, 96, 84, 80 and 70. Defeat for Wilson means that Ronnie O’Sullivan and Judd Trump are the only members of the top eight left in the field.

Allen said: “I had a slow start and gifted the first two frames to Kyren. At 2-2 I felt very relaxed because I felt I had broken the back of the match. After the interval my safety was good and I potted a few long ones. I have never been one to look at draws or think about who’s still in it. Sam Craigie might be a bit further down the rankings but he thoroughly deserves to be here because he has had two cracking wins. It will be a big match for both of us on Friday.”

Even at 2-0 down, the feeling was that Mark Allen was in better shape and more confident than Kyren Wilson. Mark’s long potting was excellent. I totally get what he said about going into the interval relaxed. You could sense it: he had the upper hand and memories about their Masters final crept in my mind … probably in Kyren’s mind too. In fact, Kyren has not beaten Mark since the 2018 Champion of Champion, four years ago.

Thursday afternoon

Magician Proves A Pain In The Neck For Trump

Suffering from the effects of a chronic neck injury, Shaun Murphy played “95 percent of shots in complete agony” as he came from 5-3 down to beat Judd Trump 6-5 and reach the quarter-finals of the Cazoo UK Championship.

Murphy rose to the occasion at the business end as breaks of 110, 104 and 53 gave him the last three frames, earning a meeting with Hossein Vafaei or Jack Lisowski on Friday evening.

World number 13 Murphy has struggled with neck pain for eight years, and after a flare-up a few days ago, he tweeted this morning to say: “In terrible pain today with my neck / shoulder. Going to try everything to be ready to play at 1pm but right now it’s not looking good.

But a combination of massage and stretching enabled him to compete, and it turned out to be one of Murphy’s best victories of recent years as he knocked out a player ranked ten places higher and reached his first quarter-final in this event for five years. The result means that Ronnie O’Sullivan is the only player ranked inside the world’s top eight left in the line-up in York.

In fact Murphy was immediately into his stride with a break of 100, then Trump made it 1-1 with an 89. In frame three, Trump led 66-30 when he missed a tricky pot on the yellow with two reds left, and Murphy punished him with a 43 clearance. Frame four was dominated by Trump and in the fifth he got the better of a tactical exchange on the green, capitalising on a safety error from Murphy to go 3-2 up. Trump’s run of 62 helped him double his lead.

Frame seven came down to a long battle on the colours, and a tremendous long pot on the brown from Murphy set him up to close the gap to 4-3. Trump got the better of an exchange on the last red in frame eight, as he went 5-3 ahead. After a 110 in the ninth, Murphy was on for a 147 in frame ten until he failed to gain position on the penultimate red, but the 104 was enough for 5-5.

First chance in the decider went Murphy’s way and he made 44 before playing safe. Trump had a chance to counter, but left a difficult red to a top corner in the jaws of the pocket and that proved his last shot as Murphy added 53.

As the dust settles and I think about where that features in my best wins, it will probably be up there,” said 40-year-old Murphy. “I’ve never let my head drop and I knew at 5-3 every frame is my last. I was just lucky that I got a chance in all three of them and the hours of practice that I have been putting in came out.

I played 95 percent of my shots in complete agony. I was very close to pulling out. I always have one of those massage guns that you can treat yourself with, I was looking for it last night and realised I hadn’t brought it to York. This morning my friend Robbie and I dashed to the shops looking for one. We finally found one, got a taxi back to the hotel, and had 40 minutes with the massage gun in the dressing room. It’s very painful, but it’s either quit or try. And I chose to try.”

Trump said: “I didn’t get much of a chance from 5-3. By the last frame, I’d been frozen out for 30 minutes. When I had a chance at the red, I just tried to drop it in dead weight knowing that if I missed it was game over. They’re the ones that you have to pot if you want to win tournaments. The way Shaun played in the last three frames, he deserved to win.

Asked about Murphy’s pre-match tweet, Trump replied: “The way he started off with a century in the first frame just put all doubt to bed. He certainly played like he wasn’t injured. Everyone exaggerates to try and ease the pressure – people handle it in different ways. As soon as I saw him practising I knew that it was going to be a battle today.”

On the other table, three-time champion Ding Junhui hammered Jamie Clarke 6-1 to set up a blockbuster quarter-final clash with O’Sullivan on Friday at 1pm.  China’s Ding, winner of 14 ranking events, has slipped to number 38 in the world, but this week’s run will boost him back up the list as he is now guaranteed £25,000.

Ding took the opening frame with a break of 99. The second came down to the colours and Clarke went in-off when playing safe on the green, gifting his opponent a 2-0 lead. Breaks of 87 and 118 extended Ding’s advantage to 4-0 at the interval.

In frame five, Ding was on 55 when an attempted red to centre hit the far jaw, and Clarke made an impressive 55 clearance to pulled one back. He also had a scoring chance early in the sixth but made just 18 before missing a red to a corner pocket. Ding fluked a red to set a break of 67 to go 5-1 ahead. And 35-year-old Ding compiled another run of 67 in the next frame to wrap up the result.

I know I can score well,” said Ding. “Sometimes I play a bad positional shot and that’s careless. So maybe I need to think more and keep the break going. I don’t want my top form for just one day, I’d rather be at 80 percent the whole week, that would be much better.

It’s going to be a great match to play Ronnie. I’ll just try my best, see what happens. He’s the best player, what can I say? I want to play him more, as much as I can. Every shot I will just try to learn more and try some different things.

There are always Chinese students in York who come and watch my games. They will be excited for tomorrow’s game so I’ll be concentrating harder.

Judd Trump came just short of accusing his opponent of faking injury. I can understand why he was disappointed but the basic truth is that he was nowhere near his best and has not been on form for a long time. Shaun player really well in the last three frames. Maybe seeing the winning line allowed him to “forget” the pain to an extend.

Ding played well too but Jamie Clarke was completely unable to put him under pressure. Ronnie and Ding like and respect each other. Their matches are almost always entertaining and high quality.

Thursday evening

Lisowski And Perry Complete Quarter-Final Line-Up

Jack Lisowski reached the quarter-finals of the Cazoo UK Championship for the third consecutive year with an impressive 6-2 victory over Hossein Vafaei in York.

Friday’s quarter-finals

Ronnie O’Sullivan v Ding Junhui
Joe Perry v Tom Ford

Mark Allen v Sam Craigie
Shaun Murphy v Jack Lisowski

World number 12 Lisowski clearly enjoys this event and hopes he can reach his first semi-final this time, having lost to Zhao Xintong in the last eight a year ago, and to Zhou Yuelong in 2020. This time he meets Shaun Murphy on Friday at 7pm, in an intriguing match between two of snooker’s most attacking players.

Lisowski eased into a 3-0 lead tonight with a top break of 95. Vafaei scored just 14 points in those three frames, but hit back in the fourth with a run of 111. The next two were shared, then Lisowski made a 101 to lead 5-2. Iran’s Vafaei could have pulled one back, but he missed a straightforward yellow in frame eight when he trailed 40-55, throwing his cue to the floor in frustration before Lisowski took the chance to seal the result.

My long potting and positional play were good,” said 31-year-old Lisowski. “I really enjoyed the game. I was hitting the ball great, which is a nice feeling. I put Hossein under pressure all night, I could see he was worried about his safety, because my long game was good. He had just beaten Mark Selby which was a big scalp.

When I play Shaun, hopefully we will both be going for everything and there will be no safety. He is a former champion and a great player. I didn’t watch him play Judd today, I just concentrate on my own game.”

Joe Perry enjoyed a 6-3 success against Stuart Bingham and has now reached the quarter-finals of this event on eight occasions since 2004. Welsh Open champion Perry won two qualifying matches to make it to York before knocking out Neil Robertson and Bingham. The world number 30 now faces another qualifier, Tom Ford.

Perry made a break of 93 in the opening frame tonight, then Bingham battled back to 2-2 with runs of 78 and 103. After the interval, Perry pulled away with 82, 82 and 75 to lead 5-2. Bingham pulled one back with 102, but Perry finished the job in frame nine, helped by a run of 64.

It’s a big win because it’s always tough against Stuart,” said 48-year-old Perry. “I love it here in York. When the Barbican is buzzing, it brings out the best in me, it’s a wonderful atmosphere.”

Jack Lisowski played really well. He didn’t go for outlandish shots, he scored well and he kept his concentration. I used to both love and hate watching him. I love his flair but he also frustrated me a lot because, too often, a few silly shots were ruining his chances. No such things yesterday. Now I believe – again – that he will win a bid title soon.

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