The least I can say about those quarter-finals is that they didn’t go as I expected at all.
OK, Ronnie had tips/ferule issues all week, it was frustrating and it was clearly playing on his mind but I never expected him to play as badly as he did and get whitewashed by Tian Pengfei. Tian is a very good player of course, he’s very precise, but he is limited and his cue power isn’t the strongest.
Anyway… my take on that match is here
The other match yesterday afternoon was also a whitewash, as Shaun Murphy beat Yuan Sijun by 5-0. Murphy’s win is no surprise.
Shaun Murphy also enjoyed a whitewash success as he beat Yuan Sijun 5-0 to set up a meeting with Joe O’Connor or Pang Junxu. That will be the Magician’s second semi-final of 2023 as he reached the same stage of the recent World Grand Prix, and the 40-year-old continues to chase his first ranking title since he won this event three years ago.
Murphy set the tournament alight on Thursday night when he made a magnificent 147, and while he couldn’t hit the same heights today, he dominated an out-of-sorts Yuan. Two breaks of 81 helped Murphy into his 48th ranking event semi-final.
“This was the last tournament I won and of course I want to lift another trophy,” said world number 11 Murphy, who has declared on the onefourseven podcast that he will moonwalk into the arena the next time he reaches a ranking final. “If you had told me that night in 2020 I beat Kyren Wilson to take the Ray Reardon Trophy that would be it for three years, I wouldn’t have believed you. But so it has proved.
“I feel my game is in good shape and it would be fantastic to add to my collection of titles. I have struggled with self-belief and confidence in recent years, but that is back and I am feeling dangerous. It would have been great to have repeated the 147 fireworks of the day before but the job was to win, and I used my experience to do that.”
The evening brought another big surprise as Mark Allen was well beaten – 5-1 – by Robert Milkins. Rob is in good form but Mark has been the player of the season. The other match was a tortuous affair as both players, understandably, looked tense and uneasy. Both are young with little experience of the biggest stages.
Milkins Sees Off ‘Pitiful’ Allen
Robert Milkins described a 5-1 win over Mark Allen as one of the best moments of his career as he progressed to the semi-finals of the BetVictor Welsh Open.
1pm: Robert Milkins v Tian Pengfei
7pm: Shaun Murphy v Pang Junxu
Delighted Milkins has two reasons to celebrate as he has also secured a place in next week’s Players Championship in Wolverhampton having climbed to 14th place in the one-year rankings – for updates on that race click here. The 46-year-old is just two wins away from his second ranking title, having captured the BetVictor Gibraltar Open crown last season, while the top prize this week would also give him a vast £150,000 bonus from the BetVictor Series – for updates click here.
Northern Ireland’s Allen would have won that huge bonus with victory tonight but couldn’t get going in a largely scrappy contest in which his high break was just 33 while Milkins top scored with 42. World number three Allen, who described his own performance as “pitiful”, also misses out on the chance to win a fourth ranking title this season.
Allen might have settled into the match if he had taken the opening frame, but he missed the blue to a centre pocket after potting the last red, handing his opponent the chance to clear the table. The next two frames were shared, then in the fourth Allen missed a mid-range pot on the final green to a top corner, and again Milkins punished him to lead 3-1.
Gloucester’s Milkins dominated frame five to extend his lead. In the sixth, Allen missed the final pink with the rest when he led by nine points, which led to a long safety battle on the black, resolved when Milkins thumped in a long pot to reach his ninth ranking semi-final.
“I feel I have just come out of a best of 19!” said Milkins “It was really tough all the way through. I missed a lot of balls but Mark missed even more. I probably edged the safety and that won me the match though 5-1 probably wasn’t a fair scoreline. As soon as I hit the black at the end I knew it was in. The safety battle had gone on for so long I decided to have a pop.
“Last season I won three matches all year, before I went to Gibraltar and I wasn’t playing badly, I just couldn’t win. Now I’m not playing brilliant, but winning becomes a habit and I am going into games with a positive frame of mind, not worrying about money.
“This is a massive win for me. Winning in Gibraltar was everything – that was the biggest. But this is up there in my top three or four moments. When I lost 6-5 to Ali Carter in the semi-finals in Germany that was such a disappointment because if I had won that I would have been in the Players Championship. Coming here, I knew I had to get to another semi-final, which is a difficult thing to do. I am proud of myself.”
Allen said: “I was awful from start to finish, it was a pitiful performance. The right player went through. I missed a few balls in the first frame, and just couldn’t get any timing or rhythm going. It’s only one match so I’m not going to beat myself up for it. Any thoughts of the bonus were nothing to do with my performance tonight. The last time I got beaten heavily was at the Masters when I lost 6-0 to Barry Hawkins and I bounced back the following week by winning the World Grand Prix, so hopefully I can do the same at the Players Championship.”
China’s Pang Junxu reached his first ranking event semi-final with a narrow 5-4 success against Joe O’Connor. The 23-year-old, who won the Rookie of the Year award in 2021, played in his first quarter-final at the recent BetVictor German Masters, and has now gone one step further. The world number 51 meets Shaun Murphy on Saturday evening.
O’Connor came from 4-2 down to 4-4, only for Pang to finish the match in fine style with a break of 124 in the decider.
Nobody said anything about the conditions but all the matches were struggles… so???
One thought on “2023 Welsh Open – The Quarter-finals”
You are right: the table conditions were tough for the players. It seems like they only recovered the main table before the semi-final.
Pang did really well to overcome some bad luck, then a slump in the middle of the match. He’s certainly a lot more resilient than Yuan, who has still not regained the confidence he had as a younger player – a victim of lockdown nodoubt.
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