The crowds in Brentwood were treated to a fantastic day of snooker yesterday. The afternoon match on table 1 in particular, was absolute first class entertainment and of the highest quality.
Robertson To Meet Selby In Semis
Neil Robertson beat Mark Williams 5-3 in a sensational BetVictor English Open quarter-final which featured a maximum, four other centuries and three more breaks over 60.
One of the highest quality matches of 2022 featured a break of at least 67 in every frame. Williams scaled the highest peak with a fabulous 147 in frame four, but Robertson was near-flawless throughout as he progressed to a semi-final meeting at 1pm on Saturday, against Mark Selby who beat Ali Carter 5-3.
Australia’s Robertson is looking to win this title for a second consecutive year, having beaten John Higgins in last year’s final. Player of the Year in 2021/22, winning four titles, the 40-year-old is seeking his first silverware of the current campaign. Robertson is through to the 49th ranking event semi-final of his career and looks at the top of his game having made six centuries and 14 more breaks over 50 in his five matches so far this week in Brentwood.
Runs of 73, 97 and 100 gave the world number four a 3-0 lead today before Williams hit back with a maximum in frame four. After the interval, there was no dip in the standard as Robertson made a 102 to lead 4-1, before Williams compiled breaks of 67 and 123 to close to 4-3. Inevitably it finished with another century as Robertson sailed past the winning line with a 127.
“There were hardly any unforced errors, both of us were really clinical,” said 23-time ranking event winner Robertson. “I guess the only difference was that I had him in a bit more trouble with my safety to force the errors. It was a brilliant match and capped off by Mark’s 147. It was an amazing break, nearly perfect all the way.
“This will be my third semi-final in the Home Nations this season, and in the other two I have not given enough care to playing containing safeties, I have made it too easy for my opponent. Today my safety was a lot better. When I played Joe O’Connor in Scotland, I gave him five or six easy starters. He stood up to the pressure really well, but he should never have had those chances. I know what the recipe is now, for the rest of the season. If I can give safety that extra attention and care, to go along with the long potting and heavy scoring, hopefully I’ll see similar success to last season.”
In another high quality contest, Selby came from 3-2 down to win the last three frames against Carter and reach his first ranking event semi-final since the 2021 World Grand Prix. Leicester’s Selby hasn’t won a title since landing his fourth Crucible crown 19 months ago, and to win tomorrow he’ll need to end a spell of seven consecutive defeats against Robertson.
After sharing the first two frames, Carter made a break of 100 to lead 2-1. In frame four, he had a chance to double his lead, but crucially missed the penultimate red to a centre pocket when he trailed 40-50. Selby cleared to the green then laid a tough snooker, and Carter’s failure to escape made it 2-2 at the interval.
Local favourite Carter, from Chelmsford, regained the lead with a 77, then Selby hit back with a 127 for 3-3. In the seventh, Selby made 68 before running out of position, but his opponent then played a loose safety, handing world number three Selby the chance to edge 4-3 ahead. And when Carter’s attempted long red at the start of the eighth frame missed its target, that proved his last shot as Selby made a match-winning 73.
“It was scrappy before the interval, then we both played better. From 3-2 I picked up the pace and scored well,” said Selby after reaching his 56th ranking event semi-final. “I was lucky to beat Shaun Murphy last night, he missed a black when he had a chance to win 4-2, a shot he would only miss one time in 100.
“When I play Neil tomorrow I’ll just try my hardest and see what happens. He is a class act and has played brilliantly against me the last few times.”
This is Willo’s Maximum as shared by Eurosport on their YouTube channel:
It is really a wonderful break. And Willo seems to be trying to leave the arena before anyone could shake his hand 😂 … the rascal!
The evening session delivered two extremely one-sided matches.
Bullet And Pistol Are Gunning For Glory
Luca Brecel enjoyed a surprise 5-1 thrashing of Judd Trump in the quarter-finals of the BetVictor English Open and remained on track to win a third ranking title within a year.
In the semi-finals on Saturday evening in Brentwood, Brecel will meet Mark Allen, a player he describes as “unbeatable”. Allen eased to a 5-0 whitewash against Ashley Hugill.
Brecel won the BetVictor Scottish Open last December, and followed up at the start of the current season by taking the trophy at the BetVictor Championship League, his third career ranking title. The 27-year-old Belgian is a mercurial talent who thrives on confidence, and has found a purple patch this week. Tonight’s result leaves Trump still looking for a first ranking semi-final of the season.
Brecel led 62-0 in the opener when he overcut a tricky black, but Trump’s reply reached just 17 before he missed the black himself, which cost him the frame. A 135 total clearance saw Brecel double his lead. Trump had an early scoring chance in the third but missed a tough pink to a baulk corner, and his opponent’s run of 53 helped make the scoreline 3-0.
Brecel added the fourth in two scoring visits, before Trump finally showed a packed arena what he can do with a superb 128. Frame six came down to a tactical battle on the last two reds, and Brecel trapped Trump in a tough snooker. From the chance that followed, world number 11 Brecel added the points he needed to book the tenth ranking event semi-final of his career.
“It’s amazing to beat Judd like that. I didn’t expect to win 5-1,” said Brecel. “From 4-0 I expected him to come back at me, that’s what top players do. Judd is an unbelievable player and he can easily win three frames in one visit. I kept calm and used my experience, I didn’t panic and kept playing the right shots.
“If I win tomorrow, it will be my fourth final in the last 12 months, so it has been a crazy year. I have had some great games with Mark Allen, He is the man in form, he’s unbeatable these days so it’s going to be tough.”
Allen, undoubtedly the player of the season so far having won the BetVictor Northern Ireland Open and UK Championship, had a comfortable path into the last four against Hugill, who was playing in his first ranking quarter-final.
Breaks of 62 and 61 gave Allen the opening frame. Hugill had a clear opportunity to level, but missed a difficult yellow with the rest when he led 64-41, and Allen punished him for 2-0. The Northern Irishman extended his advantage with a run of 109. In the fourth, Hugill was on 17 when he failed to pot the green to a baulk corner, and Allen dominated the rest of the frame for 4-0. Soon after the interval, the whitewash was completed by Allen’s break of 77.
“The second frame was really important because he looked quite composed at the start,” said world number five Allen. “If he had won that frame he would have settled and got rid of the nerves. From 2-0 I finished off the match really well.
“Luca has won the last couple of matches against me. He’s a player who thrives on the big occasion so he’ll be looking forward to this one table set up. By the time we go out, there will only be three players left in the tournament. I’m going out to try to enjoy the experience.”
The result ends Hugill’s hopes of a place in the World Grand Prix, and the line-up of 32 players for that event is now confirmed.
I only watched the Brecel v Trump match. Luca is probably one of the most gifted players on tour. His natural ability is phenomenal. There is however a downside to this: he doesn’t really excel at accurate positional play or maybe he isn’t bothered? Anyway, this means that he is vulnerable when his long potting isn’t at his best. But when he is at his best he’s spectacular and very entertaining.
Judd Trump though clearly didn’t enjoy the experience.
Here after is WST the piece about the World Grand Prix line-up as linked above.
Race to the World Grand Prix 2023: English Open Updates
The race to qualify for next month’s World Grand Prix will be decided at the BetVictor English Open next week in Brentwood.
The top 32 players on the one-year ranking list following the event will qualify for the World Grand Prix which is set to run from 16-22 January 2023 in Cheltenham.
Read more about the state of play heading to the English Open via the WSTwebsite.
As well as the qualifiers themselves, the draw for the World Grand Prix will also be determined by the finishing positions on the one-year ranking list as set out below.
Provisional WGP Draw (16/12):
Please note that this is strictly provisional and subject to event entries:
Mark Allen (1) v David Gilbert (32)
Lyu Haotian (17) v Joe O’Connor (16)
Judd Trump (9) v Thepchaiya Un-Nooh (24)
Robert Milkins (25) v Zhou Yuelong (8)
Noppon Saengkham (28) v Gary Wilson (5)
Ronnie O’Sullivan (21) v Mark Williams (12)
Mark Selby (13) v Jamie Jones (20)
Ding Junhui (4) v Stuart Bingham (29)
Kyren Wilson (3) v Robbie Williams (30)
Shaun Murphy (14) v Ali Carter (19)
Sam Craigie (22) v Barry Hawkins (11)
Luca Brecel (6) v Anthony McGill (27)
Jack Lisowski (7) v Joe Perry (26)
Hossein Vafaei (23) v Tom Ford (10)
Xiao Guodong (18) v Neil Robertson (15)
Ricky Walden (31) v Ryan Day (2)
Players are marked in bold once their position can no longer change.
Actually the draw will change because whoever wins the Selby v Robertson match will overtake Mark Williams. This means that Ronnie will probably play Barry Hawkins in the first round of the 2023 World Grand Prix. Ronnie will need a strong run in that event and/or at the 2023 Welsh Open. He’s currently 5000 points behind Joe O’Connor who is 16h in the one year list and will remain in that position at the end of this event. Ronnie hasn’t entered the Shoot-out either.