2022 Scottish Open – The Semi-finals

I’m not sure how many would have predicted the Final line-up we have today but surely this must be the most unexpected Final in a long time. Indeed Gary Wilson will face Joe O’Connor today as both will try to win their first ranking title.

Here are the reports by WST:

Gary Wilson 6-4 Thepchaiya Un-nooh

Wilson Powers To Scottish Final

Gary Wilson is through to his third ranking event final, after battling past Thepchaiya Un-Nooh 6-4 in the last four of the BetVictor Scottish Open in Edinburgh.

Wilson is bidding for a maiden ranking crown and will now face either Neil Robertson or Joe O’Connor for the Stephen Hendry Trophy tomorrow. The final will be contested over the best of 17 frames, with a top prize of £80,000 on the line.

The Wallsend cueman’s previous final appearances ended in disappointment. He was soundly beaten 10-2 by Mark Selby in the 2015 China Open final and lost out by a 6-4 scoreline against Mark Williams in the title match at the 2021 British Open. Wilson will be hoping for a reversal of fortunes tomorrow.

Former Shoot Out champion Un-Nooh is still yet to win a full format ranking title. He was runner-up to Judd Trump at the 2019 World Open. The Thai leaves Edinburgh with £17,500 in prize money.

Wilson led 2-1 after a fiercely contested first three frames, before Un-Nooh embarked on a maximum break attempt. A final red on the right hand cushion was the last obstacle, but he couldn’t get position and his run ended on 112. As a result, they went into the mid-session locked level at 2-2.

World number 32 Wilson stepped it up a gear when play resumed, a break of 88 saw him regain the lead at 3-2. However, Un-Nooh immediately replied to make it 3-3. It was from there that 2019 Crucible semi-finalist Wilson made his move. Back-to-Back century runs of 122 and 130 saw him move to the verge of victory at 5-3.

Wilson was in with the first chance in the ninth, but missed a red to the middle on 64 and Un-Nooh cleared with 68 to steal the frame. Wilson was undeterred and made a nerveless 115 to close out the 6-4 win.

Wilson said: “I was just trying to play on instinct, keep potting the balls and keeping going. I think because it was going so quickly, that helped. It got myself into a rhythm and a flow. I was 5-3 up before I knew it.

He’s absolutely outstanding, so much natural ability. Makes the game look so easy and probably like a few players he just has to tighten up a bit. That is what I’ve worried about doing. By playing on instinct you can leave yourself open to mistakes.

It would mean the world to win. It is a cliché but it is what we play for growing up. Playing tournaments and picking up trophies. I’m not going to get ahead of myself. I know my game isn’t at the level to warrant winning a tournament in my own head. I have to continue what I did in the last few frames there. If the frames rack up then great, hopefully I can do it.

Ronnie had a heartwarming discussion with Gary in the Eurosport studio after the match. Keep in mind that Gary is the one who beat him here in the last 32 round, and he might well face him again next week at the same stage in the English Open. Despite this, Ronnie praised Gary and encouraged him to play more on instinct because that’s when he’s at his best. Yes, there are risks attached, but rewards as well. Earlier in the week, Gary had admitted that he rarely feels comfortable at the table. Ronnie told him that he’s awesome and should allow himself to play with more freedom. It was very obvious that Ronnie was completely genuine and eager to help a player who plays the game “in the right way” (in Ronnie’s views) and has all the talent in the world but, maybe, not the mental approach to really unleash this talent.

I’m pretty sure that neither Steve Davis, nor Stephen Hendry would have done such a thing while they were still winning, or hoping to win.

Ronnie has often been criticised for not doing enough for his sport. Other than the fact that he has kept it in the spotlights for over thirty years, even, almost singlehandedly, through the ‘noughties’ dark period, he’s regularly been helping individual players. That’s his way. Other players do it differently, by contributing to the sport’s governance, by advocating for changes they believe would bring more fans to the game, by focusing on coaching when they come to the end of their competitive career … All that is good and useful. Some ways are more “visible” than others and some suit “extravert” players more.

Joe O’Connor 6-3 Neil Robertson

Outstanding O’Connor Reaches Maiden Final

World number 55 Joe O’Connor stunned 2010 World Champion Neil Robertson 6-3 to reach his maiden ranking event final at the BetVictor Scottish Open in Edinburgh.

After four years as a professional, 27-year-old O’Connor will contest a title match for the first time tomorrow when he takes on Gary Wilson. It will be the first time they have faced each other on the World Snooker Tour.

With Wilson himself vying for a first ranking title, there is guaranteed to be a maiden ranking event winner tomorrow. The pair will do battle over the best of 17 frames, with the Stephen Hendry Trophy and a top prize of £80,000 on the line.

O’Connor first qualified as a professional in 2018, when he came through the EBSA Playoffs to earn a tour card. The Leicester cueman sensationally reached a maiden ranking semi-final a year later at the 2019 Welsh Open, where his run was ended by Stuart Bingham. This evening he went one step further by ousting 23-time ranking event winner Robertson.

The result is the latest in a superb run this week, which has also seen O’Connor defeat Zhao Xintong, Ding Junhui, Mark Williams and Ricky Walden.

Tonight’s victory marks O’Connor’s first ever win over Robertson. Their only other meeting came at the 2014 UK Championship, when Robertson prevailed in a 6-0 whitewash. A vastly improved O’Connor fared far better this evening.

Melbourne’s Robertson misses out on a second Scottish Open title. However, the £17,500 earned this week could prove to be important with it putting him into the top 32 on the one-year list. That means Robertson moves into position for a World Grand Prix spot ahead of the qualification cut off at the end of the English Open.

Robertson could hardly have got off to a better start tonight, firing in a break of 137 to take the opener. However, O’Connor is made of stern stuff and wasn’t going to be intimidated. He claimed the next two frames to move 2-1 ahead, before a break of 127 from Robertson made it 2-2 heading into the mid-session.

When play resumed the Australian composed his third century of the match, a break of 116, to lead 3-2. It would turn out to be his last frame won in the tie.

O’Connor restored parity with a fine break of 137 to take the sixth frame. Robertson led 60-14 in the seventh, but O’Connor summoned one of the clearances of the season with 47 to steal on the black. He then moved a frame from victory and stormed over the line with a superb break of 71.

I’m absolutely buzzing and over the moon, what can I say,” proclaimed a jubilant O’Connor.

It would mean everything to win tomorrow. It is what you play for. It is why you pick up a cue. You look at the top boys on TV and think that you want to be there one day. After watching Mark Selby’s success, it has inspired me more. He is someone I look up to that has achieved so much in the game. I want to be like that.

I’ve been waiting for my game to click. I don’t think it has clicked, but somehow I keep clinically getting over the line. I might look back next week and think everything went right. It feels like I’ve got an extra 10 or 20 percent in there, but that might sound mad.

I will just concentrate on my own game. I’ll make sure I prepare and eat close to the match and get some practice in. I will just trust myself. I’ve prepared well for this tournament. Hopefully my action can hold up and take me through.

In many ways Joe reminds me of a young Mark Selby, maybe unsurprisingly as he’s from Leicester too.He’s quite slow-going (AST over 30 seconds), he carefully considers his shots but his shot selection isn’t actually negative. Neil Robertson made a century in each of the three frames he won, he lost all the close ones. Without diminishing Joe’s merit, maybe Neil was still not 100% physically (he had a chest infection coming into this event) and struggled to keep full concentration in the closer frames, especially towards the end of the evening. . The reason I write this is because, on social media, I read suggestions that he might have “fixed” the match and should be investigated. That’s preposterous.

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