Two rounds – last 32 and last 16 – were played over a day and a half to produce this line-up:
12pm: Shaun Murphy v Yuan Sijun
Not before 2pm: Ronnie O’Sullivan v Tian Pengfei
7pm: Mark Allen v Robert Milkins
7pm: Joe O’Connor v Pang Junxu
Times are “local time” i.e. UK
My report on Ronnie’s last 32 win is here
And this is my report on Ronnie’s last 16 win
Here is how we got there (reports by WST, minus Ronnie’s last 32)
O’Sullivan’s next opponent will be Ben Mertens, the promising Belgian 18-year-old playing his first season on the pro tour. Mertens continued his best run in a ranking event with an impressive 4-3 success against David Gilbert, highlighted by a break of 130, his highest in a pro event.
“I played very well, it was a good game from both of us,” said Mertens. “I am really happy and feeling good. It will be special to play Ronnie. I have good memories of playing him (at the BetVictor English Open), I lost 4-3 so hopefully I can go one better this time. I learned a lot, it’s a different experience to playing anyone else. He is my idol and I look up to him.”
For the first time, there are three Belgian players in the last 32 of a ranking event, with Luca Brecel and BetVictor Shoot Out runner-up Julien Leclercq also in this round. Mertens added: “We all support each other and I think Belgium is very proud of us. There are a lot of good younger players there, snooker in Belgium is getting bigger. What Julien did in the Shoot Out was fantastic, he is one of my best friends and I was really pleased for him to get to a final.”
Four-time Crucible king Mark Selby suffered a 4-2 reverse against Robert Milkins, who maintains his good form having reached the semi-finals of the recent BetVictor German Masters. From 2-2, Milkins won the crucial fifth frame by clearing from yellow to pink, then close out the contest in style with a 137.
“I am winning a lot of matches despite not playing brilliant,” admitted Milkins. “My safety is always pretty good, it doesn’t go below a certain level and it has won me a lot of matches over the last year or so. When I was 19 or 20 I would see balls, pot them and make breaks. As you get older and you don’t see the balls so well, you naturally develop your safety, using side and seeing different angles.”
The result ends Selby’s hopes of winning the £150,000 BetVictor Series bonus at the end of this week, while Milkins is still in with a chance if he can capture the title.
Joe Perry’s title defence was ended by a 4-1 defeat against Robbie Williams while BetVictor Scottish Open runner-up Joe O’Connor top scored with 93 in a 4-0 defeat of Stuart Carrington. Jak Jones beat LeClercq 4-2 with a top run of 74 and he’s one of two Welshmen left in the field, alongside Daniel Wells.
Amateur Wells Sinks Trump
Daniel Wells has spent time cleaning toilets during his time away from the pro tour but he enjoyed his moment on the main stage today as he flushed out Judd Trump’s hopes of winning the BetVictor Welsh Open for the first time with a 4-2 victory in the third round.
Wells dropped out of the pro ranks in 2021 and put snooker to one side to work for his mum’s cleaning business, but has committed himself to the sport again this season and has had an excellent 2022/23 campaign while competing as an amateur ‘top-up’, scoring wins over the likes of John Higgins, Joe Perry and Gary Wilson as well as reaching the semi-finals of the recent BetVictor Shoot Out. He looks set to regain his place on the main tour next season and his confidence will be further boosted by an excellent performance against Masters champion Trump.
One of two Welshmen left in the field alongside Jak Jones, 34-year-old Wells is through to the last 16 in Llandudno and will meet Shaun Murphy on Thursday night.
The key moment of today’s contest came when Trump, leading 2-0, missed the black off its spot after potting the last red, trailing by 13 points with the balls at his mercy. Wells cleared for 2-1 then took the next two frames with runs of 67 and 101. In frame six, he led 24-15 when he potted an excellent long red and made 47 to seal the result.
“To beat a top player on TV is a massive stepping stone for me,” said Wells. “When Judd looked like making it 3-0 I thought I had gone, because I had missed chances. Luckily he missed it and after that I settled down and started to play a bit. I have put my whole life into trying to win tournaments and trying to provide a life for my family.
“My world fell apart during Covid, I can’t explain why or how I deserved that, but it happened. When I was off the tour and cleaning toilets, no one was paying my bills. It was a shock to me, I realised I have to be more gritty and not give other players too much respect. They are all human and if you put anyone under enough pressure they will crack. Hopefully I can go further, I am not finished in this tournament yet.”
Trump said: “Daniel was the better player all day. I nicked a couple of frames at the start and should have gone 3-0. After that I knew the balls wouldn’t run my way. In the last frame he made a couple of mistakes but didn’t leave anything, which is what happens. His safety was really good and I struggled to create any chances. I feel a bit rusty, I didn’t play well from the start of this week, everyone else was spinning the ball back but I couldn’t get any screw into the white. My game is in good shape, I just struggled this week.”
Murphy made his 599th and 600th career centuries in a 4-2 success over Anthony McGill. Breaks of 100 and 102 made Murphy the eighth player to cross that milestone. Hossein Vafaei top scored with 100 in a 4-3 win over Barry Hawkins, a result which ends Hawkins’ hopes of the winning the £150,000 BetVictor Series bonus and also dents his chances of a place in next week’s Players Championship.
Mark Allen is very much in the race for that bumper bonus, needing to reach the semi-finals for a chance to overtake Ali Carter at the top of the BetVictor Series rankings. He scored breaks of 66, 57, 58 and 73 in a 4-1 win over Andy Hicks.
Luca Brecel is another of the five players in the hunt for the £150,000 pay day, albeit needing to win the title, and he saw off Cao Yupeng 4-1 with a top run of 86. John Higgins kept his recent improvement going as he narrowly avoided a surprise defeat against Sanderson Lam, winning 4-3.
Crunch Time For Allen In Bonus Race
Mark Allen’s 4-2 victory over Luca Brecel in the last 16 of the BetVictor Welsh Open set up a crunch match in the quarter-finals with Robert Milkins, with the £150,000 BetVictor Series bonus on the line.
Victory for Allen over Milkins on Friday evening in Llandudno would see him finish the sequence of eight events at the top of the BetVictor Series rankings and earn him the huge pay day. If Milkins wins, then he can still snatch the cash by taking the title, while Ali Carter and Joe O’Connor are also in the equation going into the last three days of the series.
Northern Ireland’s Allen is enjoying his best ever season and has been clearly the outstanding player of the 2022/23 campaign having won three titles. If he goes all the way to the crown in North Wales then his total earnings for the week would be £230,000, the biggest cheque of his career. Breaks of 90, 79 and 74 tonight helped him to a fine win over Brecel.
Shaun Murphy raised the roof at Venue Cymru with a 147 during a 4-1 victory over Daniel Wells. The Magician, seeking his first ranking title since he won this event three years ago, also made breaks of 66, 145 and 78 in a tremendous display.
“I’m over the moon,” admitted Murphy. “I just wanted to put in a good performance tonight. I wish I knew the secret – if only I could do that more regularly. I saw the opportunity for the 147 early in the break, went for it and got it. It’s up there with my best achievements. I am obviously doing something right. Every time I step out in front of a live audience I try to put on a good show and entertain, and today I think I gave them value for money.”
Ronnie O’Sullivan took just 58 minutes to beat Ben Mertens 4-0 with a top break of 68. The Rocket needs to reach the final to earn a place in next week’s Players Championship. Joe O’Connor’s 4-0 success over Robbie Williams has left him on target for a spot in Wolverhampton.
The quarter-final line-up is completed by a trio of Chinese players. Tian Pengfei scored an impressive 4-1 win over John Higgins with a top break of 80. Yuan Sijun top scored with 100 in a 4-1 defeat of Jack Lisowski, and Pang Junxu ended any hopes of a Welsh winner by beating Jak Jones 4-2.
This is Shaun’s maximum break as shared by WST on their YouTube channel
8 thoughts on “2023 Welsh Open – The Last 32 and the Last 16 rounds”
I know this match is still on,but I preferred Monique’s reverse jinx in the case of Ben. I did not see te Higgins-match, but Ronnie just seems to do exactly that: give away chances. 😦
Ronnie is struggling badly. He’s playing with that new tip and it seems from what I see that he doesn’t control what he is doing. He almost always plays with side and he’s not in control of where the cueball goes.. It’s painful to watch. The match yesterday was misleading. Ben didn’t play well and didn’t put Ronnie under pressure. Tian is playing well and, he’s getting some run too. .
I totally felt yesterday that Ronnie needs to play better today as Mertens made mistake after mistake, so Ronnie was not punished for his mistakes. This is terrible to see now and I would not care as a new tip needs to be getting used to, but it means the season is practically over till Sheffield and that is sad. And yes, thi ,match is very painful to watch
Aside from all the melodrama, there were some good wins for several players: Pang, O’Connor, Yuan and Milkins. Of course, Allen and Murphy look very strong. Tian’s win over Higgins was more down to Higgins’ very poor match, leaving lots of chances for his opponent. Tian isn’t a threat to Ronnie. Milkins might upset Allen, and apart from that the most interesting match will be between Pang and O’Connor on Table 2.
I’m afraid you underestimated Tian and underestimated the mental pressure created by the tip issues that happened all week…
It was jinxing Ronnie bad. 😦 Tian is good at picking up the pieces, but Ronnie just gives him every opportunity. It is sad and very upsetting, not because of this tournament, but because of the Players and the Tour.
On the other hand, there is one positive. Because Ronnie won’t play next week, his cue can be sent to John Parris to do whatever needs be done about the ferule and maybe the cue itself. Better have that done now than closer to the Crucible.
Indeed. Ronnie was terrible today, but it’s not the first time. Higgins played similarly poorly yesterday, and Tian is good enough to capitalise even if he would not usually believe in himself to beat such players.
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