The quarter-final line-up at the 2022 English Open is very high quality, with just one “surprise” name in it. Here are the reports by WST on the last 32 and last 16 rounds
Ding Misses Out On Allen Revenge
In a repeat of the UK Championship final, Mark Allen once again recovered from a slow start to beat Ding Junhui, this time by a 4-3 scoreline to reach the last 16 of the BetVictor English Open.
In York last month, Allen came from 6-1 down to see off Ding 10-7 and claim the UK title, and tonight he again proved a tough nut to crack as he won the last three frames with a trio of breaks over 80. Seeking his third title of the season and playing with a high level of consistency, Allen now meets Zhao Xintong or John Astley in round four in Brentwood.
A scrappy opening frame went Ding’s way and he made a 124 in the second for 2-0. The next two were shared then Allen compiled a run of 86 to close to 3-2. The Northern Irishman enjoyed a huge slice of luck at the start of frame six when, attempting safety, he fluked a red which set him up for a break of 94 for 3-3.
The key moment of the decider came when Ding, trailing 18-0, failed to make contact with a red when playing a thin safety, and caught the red on the way back up the table, leaving his opponent an inviting opportunity. Allen took full advantage with a match-winning 113.
“I wasn’t feeling well today – I had a headache and spent most of the day in a dark room, and at 3-1 my back was against the wall,” said world number five Allen. “The game brings different challenges and I enjoyed that tonight against a very good player. Because I have lost weight this year, I am not as tired in those situations and I get around the table better. Mentally I am in a very good place and most tournaments are won and lost on what happens between the ears.”
John Higgins enjoyed a tremendous fight back from 3-1 down to beat Robert Milkins 4-3. Breaks of 86, 56 and 62 gave Higgins the last three frames as he reached the last 16 of a ranking event for the first time this season. The result keeps alive Higgins’ hopes of qualifying for the World Grand Prix; he must reach the final this week to climb into the top 32 of the one year list and earn a place in Cheltenham next month.
Judd Trump top scored with 118 in a 4-0 win over Fraser Patrick, setting up a repeat of his BetVictor Scottish Open quarter-final against Thepchaiya Un-Nooh. Yuan Sijun had been among the chasing pack in the World Grand Prix race but he is now out of the running as he lost 4-1 to in-form Un-Nooh, who knocked in breaks of 125 and 122.
Mark Selby, looking to end a spell of 19 months without a title, top scored with 102 in a 4-1 defeat of Wu Yize. Neil Robertson beat Elliot Slessor 4-0 with a top run of 88 while British Open champion Ryan Day made a 70 in the decider to beat Ricky Walden 4-3, a result which leaves Walden uncertain of his World Grand Prix place as he’s currently in 31st position.
Seventh seed Kyren Wilson became the first player ranked among the world’s top 13 to be knocked out as he lost 4-1 to Jamie Jones, who made breaks of 73 and 102.
Glittering Gould Floors Rocket
Martin Gould scored his first ever win over Ronnie O’Sullivan, knocking out the home favourite by a 4-1 scoreline to reach the last 16 of the BetVictor English Open.
O’Sullivan has won two invitation events this season – the Champion of Champions and Hong Kong Masters – but his wait for a first ranking title of the campaign goes on. World number 43 Gould rose to the occasion in Brentwood to beat O’Sullivan for the first time in seven meetings, and will face Ashley Hugill in round four tonight.
Londoner Gould trailed 67-7 in the opening frame but hit back to snatch it by clearing from last red to black, and a run of 60 in the second doubled his lead. O’Sullivan pulled one back with a 78, but couldn’t build momentum, and Gould made further breaks of 57 and 61 in taking the last two frames.
“It’s very early in the tournament but to beat Ronnie is a great scalp,” said Gould. “I have to build on that, not go out signing and dancing, I have to stay in tournament mode and be ready for the game tonight. Snooker is a weird game, you can be flying off your nut for six months, and then you turn up for one event and you forget which end of the cue to use. Beating Ronnie means nothing if I go out and play like a balloon tonight.”
Hugill reached the last 16 of a ranking event for the fourth time in his career with a 4-2 victory over Pang Junxu and will appear in his first quarter-final if he can beat Gould. Ali Carter scored an impressive 4-2 victory over Jack Lisowski, making breaks of 97, 59, 60 and 53, while three-time Crucible king Mark Williams whitewashed Matthew Selt 4-0 with runs of 79, 55, 71 and 73.
John Astley scored a surprise 4-0 win over Zhao Xintong to reach the last 16 of a ranking event for the first time since the 2018 Welsh Open. That ends Zhao’s hopes of a place in the World Grand Prix, while Astley could still earn a spot if he reaches the semi-finals.
Barry Hawkins saw off Marco Fu 4-2 with top breaks of 89, 127 and 50, while Shaun Murphy top scored with 105 as he beat Anthony McGill by the same scoreline.
John Astley’s win over Zhao is not that big a surprise considering that Zhao was unwell from the very start of the event. He had lost his voice and was coughing a lot. My guess is that he might well have withdrawn if he hadn’t been chasing a spot in the World Grand Prix. According to Andres Petrov he looked very sick already in his first match.
Huge Break-Through For Grafter Ashley
Ashley Hugill is renowned as one of the hardest working players on the tour, and is now reaping rewards as a 4-1 victory over Martin Gould earned him a quarter-final place at the BetVictor English Open.
York’s Hugill first turned pro in 2017 and can now look forward to his first appearance in the last eight of a ranking event. He will face Mark Allen at 7pm on Friday in Brentwood. Gould knocked out Ronnie O’Sullivan earlier in the day but couldn’t build on that success in the evening session.
12pm: Neil Robertson v Mark Williams
Not before 2pm: Ali Carter v Mark Selby
7pm: Judd Trump v Luca Brecel
7pm: Mark Allen v Ashley Hugill
Hugill won the WSF Open, the biggest title in amateur snooker, in 2020 and qualified for the Crucible for the first time last season. The 28-year-old has now achieved another career milestone, and that’s a result of many hours of hard graft, on and off the table. He even recently completed a marathon on his own, running 13 miles into the Peak District and then back to his Sheffield home.
“I’m definitely one of the hardest workers on the tour, not just in practice, but keeping fit, eating right and going to bed early. Hopefully that will get me somewhere,” said Hugill, who made breaks of 101, 65 and 64 tonight. “I might not be as talented as many other players on the tour but I work really hard and try to do as many things right as I can.
“I’m just happy to play well when I needed to tonight, that shows I’m moving in the right direction. We played on table four tonight which I have played all my matches on this week, so that was a nice advantage. I made a century in the first frame so Martin was on the back foot straight away.
“I don’t really get intimidated, I just try to enjoy the game and take it in. I’ll just focus on myself tomorrow, try to limit my mistakes and make sure I enjoy it. I work with Ian McCulloch and he always says the most important thing is to enjoy it because you never know when it’s going to be your last game.”
Allen remained on target for a third ranking title of the season as he beat John Astley 4-1 with a top break of 100. “I didn’t have my best stuff tonight,” insisted Allen, winner of the Northern Ireland Open and UK Championship. “I switched off mentally at 2-0, so I’ll have to go back to the room tonight and think about what I was doing and how to put it right.
“I’ve potentially got three very tough matches, I’m just happy that I keep putting myself in these positions and if I do that then I know I’ll win more. I want to finish this year off the right way and hopefully enjoy Christmas with another trophy under my belt. After the Scottish Open I spent a lot of time on my own on the practice table and I feel I’m in a better place now with my technique. ”
Judd Trump will reach a ranking event semi-final for the first time this season if he can beat Luca Brecel. Trump beat Thepchaiya Un-Nooh 4-2 with a top run of 72. Brecel top scored with 94 in a 4-2 win over Jamie Jones.
Mark Selby edged out Shaun Murphy 4-3 thanks to a break of 53 in the decider. Selby now takes on Ali Carter, who followed up a last 32 win over Jack Lisowski by beating John Higgins 4-2 with a tremendous performance.
Higgins scored just one point in the first three frames as breaks of 86, 70 and 136 put Carter 3-0 ahead, and the Englishman later sealed victory in frame six with a 142 total clearance, the new front-runner for the £5,000 high break prize. That result ends Higgins’ hopes of qualifying for the World Grand Prix as he remains well outside the top 32 of the one-year ranking list. Hugill can still earn a place by reaching the final.
Defending champion Neil Robertson compiled runs of 59, 96, 59 and 75 in a 4-2 defeat of Ryan Day and now faces a block-buster battle with Mark Williams, who beat Barry Hawkins 4-2 with breaks of 130, 84, 53 and 91.
Martin Gould’s defeat to Ashley Hugill may be a big surprise at first glance but having read his interview by Hector Nunns, it’ was definitely to be expected. Martin had to play two matches in the same day, one in the afternoon, one in the evening. If his knee injury prevents him to practice for more than 1 hour and a half, the second match was always going to be very difficult. Ashley played very well obviously and, to his own admission, playing on table 4 suited him. Martin said nothing after the match, unsurprisingly. There is this “culture” in the sport, and in the UK, that one shouldn’t “make excuses”. Maybe because I’m from a different background, I would never have seen it as an “excuse” if Martin had spoken about his knee issue. Actually, as a fan, I prefer a transparent approach by the players, rather than leaving the door open to speculations.