2023 Welsh Open – The Semi-Finals

There were no surprises in the semi-finals yesterday in Llandudno and the Final today will be contested between Robert Milkins and Shaun Murphy.

Hereafter you will find the reports by WST on the semi-finals

Robert Milkins 6-3 Tian Pengfei

Bonus And Title On The Line For Milkins

Robert Milkins will play the biggest match of his life on Sunday at the BetVictor Welsh Open, having beaten Tian Pengfei 6-2 in the semi-finals to keep alive his hopes of winning the title and a colossal £150,000 bonus.

Milkins is into his second ranking final and will be looking to double his tally of titles having captured the BetVictor Gibraltar Open last season. Victory against either Shaun Murphy or Pang Junxu tomorrow would not only give him the Ray Reardon Trophy and top prize of £80,000, but he would also finish top of the BetVictor Series ranking list which has run across eight events since last July. That would bring his total earnings for the week to a mammoth £230,000. The most he has previously earned in an entire season is £139,000.

If he loses the final, then Ali Carter will bank the £150,000. For the second consecutive season, the race to win the bonus has gone to the last day of the final event.

Milkins’ reversal of fortunes over the past year has been extraordinary given that he went to Gibraltar last March in danger of tour relegation. He ended that week with his first title, 27 years after turning pro, and has carried that impetus into the current campaign, reaching the semi-finals of the recent BetVictor German Masters and now going one step further. The 46-year-old from Gloucester is up to 12th on the one-year ranking list and could go as high as fourth with victory tomorrow.

China’s Tian beat the likes of Carter, John Higgins and Ronnie O’Sullivan to reach his first ranking semi-final but couldn’t reproduce that form today. He suffered a cruel slice of misfortune in the opener as he led 67-0 when he potted frame-ball red, only for the cue ball to go in-off. Milkins got the better of a safety battle then made an excellent 61 clearance. A run of 109 doubled his lead before Tian made a 58 to pulled one back. Frame four came down to the last red, and Milkins knocked a cracking pot into a baulk corner and cleared for 3-1.

The fifth went Tian’s way before world number 27 Milkins made an 89 for 4-2. In frame seven, the Englishman led 43-10 when he fluked a red while playing safe, and he added the points needed to go three up with four to play. And Milkins needed just one chance to seal the result, making an 82 in frame eight.

It’s massive tomorrow, the biggest game of my life,” said Milkins. “I don’t know how I’m going to cope. It would be enough just playing for the title, let alone everything that goes with it. I don’t know if I’ll be able to stand up. But I might rise to the occasion, sometimes when there is that much pressure on, you play well, other times you can’t do anything right.

I made a good clearance today in the first frame and then went 2-0 ahead. I lost my way after that for a few frames but from 4-2 I played well to get over the line. I back myself against most players in the scrappy frames. And I made a few good breaks today, which I couldn’t do against Mark Allen yesterday.

I didn’t sleep well last night so hopefully tonight I’ll get some food, chill out and have ten hours sleep to catch up.”

Tian said: “Robert played well and I lost one or two important frames. I tried to enjoy it but it was difficult. I can still take some confidence from this week.”

Shaun Murphy 6-3 Pang Junxu

Murphy Sets Up Milkins Final

Shaun Murphy remained on target for his first ranking title in three years as he beat Pang Junxu 6-3 to reach the final of the BetVictor Welsh Open in Llandudno.

From 2-2, Murphy pulled away to win four of the last five frames of a tough battle, to set up a meeting with Robert Milkins on Sunday. First to nine frames will take the £80,000 top prize and the Ray Reardon Trophy, while Milkins has the extra challenge of trying to win the BetVictor Series bonus.

Victory would give Murphy his first silverware since the 2020 Welsh Open and earn him a tenth career ranking title, which would bring him level with Jimmy White and make him the 11th player in snooker history to get into double figures.

The 40-year-old Englishman has gone through tough spells in recent years, with dips in form and challenges away from snooker, but has enjoyed a resurgence this season, partly as a result of weight loss following gastric sleeve surgery last summer. Runs to the quarter-finals of the UK Championship and the semis of the World Grand Prix have seen him build momentum, and the purity of Murphy’s ball-striking was obvious when he made back to back breaks of 145 and 147 earlier this week.

He is through to his 23rd ranking final and first since the 2021 World Championship when he was beaten by Mark Selby.

China’s Pang, playing in his first ranking semi-final, got the better of the opening frame and had a chance to go 2-0 ahead but missed a tough pot to a centre pocket on the final black, handing Murphy the chance to slot in an excellent pot to a baulk corner for 1-1. Frame three also came down to the colours and a cracking long green from Murphy set him up to go ahead. He might have added the fourth but missed a tough final blue to a baulk pocket and Pang punished him for 2-2.

After the interval, Murphy regained the lead, then compiled a run of 58 in frame six as he went 4-2 ahead, before Pang halved the gap with a break of 62. In frame eight, Murphy led 44-24 when he converted a superb long red, initiating a run of 29 for 5-3. And the Magician finished the match in the ninth with a run of 83.

It wasn’t a great performance, neither of us played well,” admitted world number 11 Murphy. “The importance of the occasion got to us. I let him dictate the style of play and if it hadn’t been for the words of my assistant Robert Murphy during the interval, I wouldn’t have won that game.

I have been on a bleak run in the last couple of seasons so I am over the moon to be back in another final. We spend a lot of time away from our kids and families but we never give up and I have been working very hard on my game. This has been coming all season, I have been playing well. In the club I have been grafting, working on my weaknesses and watching my matches back to see where things have gone wrong. I feel I may have turned a corner.”

On the onefourseven podcast, Murphy pledged earlier in the season that if he got to a ranking final he would moonwalk to the table, and he intends to honour that promise. He added: “I am a man of my word and I will be trying to moonwalk to my chair tomorrow.

Unplanned circumstances prevented me to see much of the action yesterday. From what little I saw, Robert Milkins will have to cut out the “unexpected” errors if he is to beat Shaun Murphy whose long potting looked deadly. Pang is still learning but he’s quite good tactically and very patient.

The final today will be refereed by John Pellew (source WST).

Pellew Set To Referee Welsh Final

Llanelli’s 68-year-old referee John Pellew will be in the middle for this weekend’s BetVictor Welsh Open final.

Welshman Pellew has been officiating for 18 years, but has taken a keen interest in the sport since the age of 15. Earlier this season he took charge of a ranking final for the first time at the BetVictor Championship League and on Sunday in Llandudno he will double that tally.

His initial experience of refereeing came when he was asked by legendary Welsh World Champion Terry Griffiths to help out at an exhibition. At that stage he had no official qualifications, but he got the bug and decided to take his refereeing exam.

Since working at qualifiers in Prestatyn back in 2005, Pellew has steadily been building up experience as an official and is now a regular on the professional circuit. Looking ahead to Sunday’s match, Pellew can’t wait for what will be the highlight of his career so far.

Pellew said: “With it being the Welsh Open it is very exciting. I believe I will be the fourth Welshman to have done it after John Williams, Eirian Williams and Paul Collier.

It will be a real honour to be in the middle while two players battle it out for the Ray Reardon Trophy. I played against Ray in an exhibition years ago at Butlins. That was a very surreal experience.

I was so shocked when I was told I would do the final and it is a dream come true. This tournament is part of our heritage and it is very special for me to be a part of it.”

I know that John is not everyone’s favourite referee but I really like him as a person. He’s a gentle man who has spent countless hours, and gone through countless late nights at the South West Snooker Academy, supporting grassroots snooker and the Pink Ribbon charity event. I’m very pleased for him.

The 2023 Players Championship starts tomorrow. The line-up can’t change anymore, but the seeding is not yet definitely known, as explained by WST here:

Race To Wolverhampton: Live Updates

The top 16 players on the one-year ranking list will head for Wolverhampton next week for the Duelbits Players Championship.

Latest update: Saturday midnight. The line-up for the Duelbits Players Championship is now confirmed. Shaun Murphy’s 6-3 semi-final victory means that Pang Junxu cannot climb into the top 16, so Joe O’Connor will be going to Wolverhampton. Murphy is up to ninth place and will go to second if he wins the final. Robert Milkins is 13th and could go as high as fourth.

Here’s one-year list as it stands.

1 Mark Allen £516,000
2 Ryan Day £144,000
3 Kyren Wilson £141,500
4 Ali Carter £136,000
5 Ding Junhui £130,500
6 Mark Selby £125,500
7 Luca Brecel £116,000
8 Jack Lisowski £115,000
9 Shaun Murphy £112,000
10 Gary Wilson £107,500
11 Judd Trump £105,500
12 Tom Ford £103,500
13 Robert Milkins £94,500
14 Zhou Yuelong £79,500
15 Chris Wakelin £73,500
16 Joe O’Connor £72,000

The draw will be confirmed after the final on Sunday night in Llandudno, with Seed 1 playing Seed 16, Seed 2 playing Seed 15, and so on. The match schedule will be confirmed soon afterwards.

Possible Duelbits Players Championship draws

If Milkins beats Murphy in the final
1 Mark Allen v 16 Joe O’Connor
8 Luca Brecel v 9 Jack Lisowski
5 Ali Carter v 12 Judd Trump
4 Robert Milkins v 13 Tom Ford
3 Kyren Wilson v 14 Zhou Yuelong
6 Ding Junhui v 11 Gary Wilson
7 Mark Selby v 10 Shaun Murphy
2 Ryan Day v 15 Chris Wakelin

If Murphy beats Milkins in the final
1 Mark Allen v 16 Joe O’Connor
8 Luca Brecel v 9 Jack Lisowski
5 Ali Carter v 12 Tom Ford
4 Kyren Wilson v 13 Robert Milkins
3 Ryan Day v 14 Zhou Yuelong
6 Ding Junhui v 11 Judd Trump
7 Mark Selby v 10 Gary Wilson
2 Shaun Murphy v 15 Chris Wakelin

2 thoughts on “2023 Welsh Open – The Semi-Finals

  1. As I expected, Tian Pengfei didn’t pose much of a threat in his first semi-final. He was very unlucky to lose the first frame and after that he was always second-favourite.

    Pang Junxu produced a fine display of safety, but wasn’t able to score. At this stage of a tournament, it is necessary to win some frames in one visit. He is capable of doing that, but the added tension of a semi-final eroded his touch just too much.

    So in the end there were two fairly comfortable wins for the favourites.

    If you missed the coverage, you will not have seen the almost exclusive coverage of Shaun Murphy. On both BBC and Eurosport, almost every feature was an interview with Shaun Murphy: I counted 7 interviews yesterday, half of them pre-recorded. Actually I have nothing against Shuan Murphy, and I think he is a good commentator and pundit, but this wall-to-wall coverage of him is getting very wearing. He’s going to have to be careful of overkill, even if his agent and sponsors are delighted by it. I am pleased that they managed to interview Tian Pengfei and even Yuan Sijun (perhaps all my letters and complaints finally made some progress), although I didn’t see an interview with Pang Junxu. They do need to have some kind of balance.

    • Murphy is a terrible commentator, the inflection in his voice goes way too high when he’s trying to sound dramatic.

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