Yesterday saw the conclusion of round 2, and the start of round 3 of the 2023 World Snooker Championship qualifiers at the EIS in Sheffield.
Here are the reports by WST:
Doherty Keeps Crucible Dream Alive
Ken Doherty is still in the hunt for a first Crucible appearance since 2014, after beating Hammad Miah 10-6 in Cazoo World Championship Qualifying at the English Institute of Sport in Sheffield.
The Irishman is now two wins away from a return to the Theatre of Dreams. Doherty faces Chinese prospect Pang Junxu on Monday for a Judgement Day spot.
Doherty is in the middle of a two-year tour card, but has struggled to find his form this season. The 1997 World Champion has won just seven matches and is yet to make it beyond the last 64 of a tournament. In light of this, he has admitted retirement is a possibility at the end of next season.
However, the six-time ranking event winner showed a glimpse of his vintage form in yesterday’s opening session, compiling a stunning 137 on his way to emerging with a 5-4 advantage. Further breaks of 65 and 57 helped him to take five of the seven frames this afternoon and pull away for the win.
“There is more pressure on these qualifiers because it is the Crucible. I’ve had such a great affinity with Sheffield over the years that I’ve had some great memories,” said 53-year-old Doherty.
“It would be great to go there, not as a pundit, but as a player. It is the same with the other older lads, where the chances are getting few and far between, as the younger lads who are aspiring to do it for the first time.
“Time is running out and there is no doubt about that. Time waits for no man, but you have to reflect and look at what it has served me over the years. I am just so grateful and so happy. I’ve had a wonderful experience playing snooker and I’m still enjoying it. The fact that I once got my hands on that trophy and had one of the greatest years of my life is amazing. They are memories I will take to the grave.”
Perth’s Scott Donaldson recorded a 10-1 demolition of Welsh 16-year-old Liam Davies to emphatically book his third round slot.
Donaldson has come through these qualifiers and appeared at the Crucible on two previous occasions, in 2019 and 2022. His next opponent this time around is China’s Yuan Sijun.
Ben Mertens defeated fellow Belgian Julien Leclercq 10-6 and set up a third round meeting with Jimmy Robertson. Mertens began the session just 5-4 in front, but breaks of 71, 59, 73, 80 and 57 saw him pull away and clinch the tie.
James Cahill emerged a 10-6 winner against Lei Peifan and plays Zhou Yuelong next, while Elliot Slessor beat Ian Martin 10-3 to set up a clash with Liam Highfield.
Ben Mertens did indeed play very whilst his good friend Julien Leclercq couldn’t quite reproduce the form he had shown in the first session. Going by the reactions on social media, a lot of snooker fans appreciated that match: both players were praised for the way they play the game, and there was quality from start to finish. Thank you boys!
Dott Through To “Horrible” Judgement Day
Graeme Dott admitted that the final round of Cazoo World Championship Qualifying is a “horrible” experience, after reaching Judgement Day with a 10-6 defeat of Andy Hicks at the English Institute of Sport.
Dott has missed out on the Crucible for the last three years, losing in the final round of qualifying on each occasion. That is the longest run since the beginning of his career, in 1994, that he hasn’t been present in the final stages.
The Scot now faces Matthew Selt on Tuesday, over the best of 19 frames, for a place at the Theatre of Dreams. Selt earned his Judgement Day slot with a late night 10-7 win over Peter Lines.
Dott made breaks of 62, 71 and 52 on his way to this evening’s victory and afterwards stated that watching the Crucible from afar in recent times has been difficult.
“It is horrific. It is really not good at all. I would rather just go on holiday for two weeks and not see it. Hopefully this year I can get back there,” said 2006 World Champion Dott.
“That last round is not nice. I don’t think anybody could enjoy it. They are horrible matches to play in. All you want to do is win, regardless of how you feel or how you play. Even the first match is pressured. I felt like I was twitching at 9-3 up today. You need to be able to stand up to it.
“I don’t think there is a lead big enough here that you actually feel relaxed. It doesn’t matter how far ahead you are. I was a little bit nervy there because I wasn’t playing well to go 9-3 up. If Andy got on a run I knew there was a chance he could have run frames off.”
World number 21 Anthony McGill summoned his best snooker at the crucial moment, to come from 9-7 down and beat John Astley 10-9.
The Glaswegian was left shell shocked when Astley fired in breaks of 108, 64 and 128 to lead 8-7, the first time he had been in front since the opening frame. Astley then took the 16th on a re-spotted black to move one from victory.
McGill rallied and crafted breaks of 136 and 98 to force a decider. He took it to get over the line and earn a Judgement Day meeting with Cao Yupeng, who beat Ben Woollaston 10-6.
Thailand’s Thepchaiya Un-Nooh is through to the final round after a 10-5 win over Mark Joyce. He now faces an intriguing clash with Ricky Walden, who beat Ian Burns 10-6.
All detailed results are, of course, on snooker.org
I have to admit that I struggled to get really interested in the evening matches. I usually like to watch Theppy, although he can be frustrating at times, but I’m definitely not a fan of Mark Joyce’s type of game. That match brought back on social media the old joke about Joyce’s mum who allegedly isn’t happy when he wins. For those who wonder where that comes from, here is the origin of it: years ago, a young and quite outspoken Mark Allen wasn’t happy with his opponent’s alleged antics during the match and attitude when sat in his chair. Afterward, in his post-match, he declared that “Even his mother must be happy when he loses!”. That opponent was Mark Joyce.
From today on, we are really at the business end of those qualifiers. The match I really wanted to watch today is Fan Zhengyi v Iulian Boiko. Unfortunately it’s not one of the four shown on the ES app. In the afternoon, Gould v Page should be entertaining, especially if Martin finds some form, but I think that I will opt for Andrew Higginson v Joe O’Connor.
One thought on “The 2023 World Snooker Championship Qualifiers – Day 6”
It’s often the case that the more interesting matches are on Tables 5-8. There were indeed some tense finishes, and some long matches, although the Hugill-Kleckers match was not actually the last to finish, nor was it the worst match.
There were good some wins by some of the technical specialists like Hugill, Oliver Lines, Anthony McGill, Xu Si, Noppon Saengkham and Cao Yupeng, as well as Thepchaiya’s freee-flowing scoring. But yes, the most attractive match was between the two Belgian boys – let’s hope it’s the first of many.
A few more players were relegated, and the situation is becoming much clearer.
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