The 2023 World Snooker Championship Qualifiers – Day 7

We are now at the last round before “Judgement Days” and here is WST report on yesterday’s matches

Hawk Remains In Crucible Hunt

Barry Hawkins is one match away from securing an 18th consecutive Crucible appearance, after beating David Lilley 10-4 to reach Judgement Day at Cazoo World Championship Qualifying.

World number 20 Hawkins is competing at Crucible qualifying for the first time since 2012, after dropping out of the top 16. It’s a situation he wouldn’t have anticipated at the start of the campaign, having made the final of the European Masters early on. Hawkins suffered a heavy 9-3 defeat to Kyren Wilson in that match and has struggled to recapture his form since.

The Londoner is no stranger to performing at snooker’s biggest event. He made the final in 2013, where he lost out 18-12 to Ronnie O’Sullivan. Hawkins also made semi-finals in 2014, 2015, 2017 and 2018. The three-time ranking event winner now faces Jak Jones to ensure he competes at the Theatre of Dreams this year. Jones earned his Judgement Day slot with a late night 10-9 win over Robbie Williams.

Hawkins struggled to produce his best form today, in a match where he failed to register a single break over 50. However, after leading 6-3 following the opening session, he took four of the five frames this evening to get over the line.

I’m just pleased to get through. It was a brutal match and each frame felt like it was well over 30 minutes. It was a terrible standard and I didn’t expect to play as badly as that. I’m just delighted to get through the next round and I can improve,” said 43-year-old Hawkins. “Every frame was a pint of blood. David said in the interval it couldn’t get any worse and he was right really.

I started the season well and didn’t capitalise on the good form. I’ve been winning matches but not going deep in tournaments. I haven’t earned enough ranking points and it is my own fault I am here. Other people have come here and had good runs at the Crucible, so who knows.

Everybody wants to finish their season off at the Crucible, but it is all good and well qualifying, you want to go there and do well. Just winning one game here and getting bashed up at the Crucible is not what people want. I want to be part of it.”

Scotland’s Stephen Maguire is searching for a 20th straight trip to the final stages and he moved one match away thanks to a 10-4 win over Alfie Burden.

Maguire arrives here off the back of a poor season, which has seen him reach the last 16 on just one occasion at the Northern Ireland Open. However, he looked to be in good touch today and crafted breaks of 67, 72, 56, 52, 63, 58, 72 and 68 on his way to victory.

Next up Maguire faces China’s Fan Zhengyi, who beat the impressive Ukrainian 17-year-old Iulian Boiko 10-8.

Shoot Out champion Chris Wakelin thrashed Aaron Hill 10-2 to secure his place in the final round. His opponent will be Wu Yize who also won 10-2, beating Tian Pengfei.

Jordan Brown emerged a 10-7 victor against Dominic Dale and will play Si Jiahui on Judgment Day. Si scored a 10-5 win against Tom Ford.

Once again WST focus is on the British household names. It shows in their reports and in their choices when it comes to table allocation. It’s a shame.

Si Jiahui won a hard fought match against Tom Ford, although Si became stronger and more dominant as the match went on, but he’s “awarded” just one short sentence in the above report and wasn’t interviewed. That’s the match I watched and I guess it was on one of the stream table only because of Tom Ford.

I would have preferred to be able to watch Fan Zhengyi v Iulian Boiko but they were on an away table. Iulian won’t be at the Crucible but what he has shown this week is impressive. Other players who got a tour card at a very young age were destroyed by the experience, their confidence shattered, but Iulian comes across as a very strong character. He has matured a lot and the circumstances in his country inspire him to be more determined and stronger than ever. I hope that he gets back on tour soon.

Also, as we are now in the week before the Crucible, the media build-up has started

One piece that came out yesterday confirmed what I knew and said quite a few times in the past … that Ronnie’s pretence of “not caring” is a coping mechanism.

Going by this interview, Ronnie is in a positive frame of mind ahead of the Crucible and determined to try his best.

O’Sullivan makes admission about his attitude to snooker which enrages fans

O’Sullivan, a winner of 39 ranking titles and seven Masters crowns, has irritated some of his army of fans by regularly claiming snooker means little to him these days

By Hector Nunns

O’Sullivan says his attitude to snooker is all a front (Image Getty Images)

Ronnie O’Sullivan admits claiming he ‘doesn’t care’ and playing down his stellar achievements are all a front – and just a way of coping with pressure.

The Rocket is now widely recognised as the greatest snooker player ever to pick up a cue after equalling Stephen Hendry’s record of seven world titles last year. 

And that means world No1 O’Sullivan, 47, can set a new record of eight at the Crucible Theatre this year if he lifts the famous trophy again in Sheffield.

O’Sullivan, a winner of 39 ranking titles and seven Masters crowns, has irritated some of his army of fans by regularly claiming snooker means little to him these days.

But there have been times in recent years when the mask has slipped, and real and raw emotion has poured out of O’Sullivan.

Beating Mark Allen in the final of the 2018 UK Championship saw O’Sullivan overtake Stephen Hendry’s record of 18 successes in snooker’s three ‘major’ tournaments.

That saw him celebrate wildly with his fans and support group – leaping onto the barrier surrounding the arena in York, then going walkabout in the fans with the trophy.

That was followed by a total release as a spent O’Sullivan, the sport’s box office No1 for more than 30 years, then sat in his chair and poured water all over his head.

Then when becoming the first player to make a 1,000 centuries at the 2019 Players Championship a beaming O’Sullivan milked the crowd reaction and potted the key red left-handed to a standing ovation.

And just 12 months ago O’Sullivan collapsed and sobbed in the arms of beaten World Championship final opponent Judd Trump after finally equalling Hendry’s mark of seven crowns.

O’Sullivan said: “I suppose playing it down is part of my coping mechanism. I have worked a lot with Steve Peters.

I try to get a perspective on the game and on my life, and I think that is better now. I don’t want to be defined by snooker, a result, achievements. If they come, great

But yeah, I probably play it down. I will be trying my hardest this year, obviously. And I think I have another four good genuine attempts at it.

I do care, of course, I care. I just try to have a better perspective on it. It is a big part of my life, but not all of my life. I am not going to invest everything into it.

If it happens, great. I don’t have to be fully focused 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year. Once I put my cue down, I try to forget about snooker and enjoy my life.

But obviously you get excited at this time of year, it’s a big tournament. You want to get your game right, you want to be feeling going into the Crucible that you have a chance to have a go.

I am definitely getting excited. Listen, I haven’t done much in the ranking tournaments either this year, so it would be nice to have a good run. You want to be in this one as long as you can.

The only time I have been surprised when I won it was 2020 – but all the others, no real surprise.

I thought ‘my game is good, I have a chance here’. Then the other years outside those I have gone there I have thought, ‘hmmm, I am probably going to get found out here’ – and I have been.

“I usually have a good idea before going into Sheffield or very early on in the tournament if it’s there.”

7 thoughts on “The 2023 World Snooker Championship Qualifiers – Day 7

  1. Yes, the Boiko-Fan match was scheduled on Table 5, but it would have been far better for snooker if it had been Table 1. It was a brilliant match between two spectacular players. After going 8-5 behind, Boiko went on the attack and put his opponent under immense pressure. There were some pretty rash shots played, but the potential of these players is obvious.

    Fan’s flatmate, Si Jiahui, had a fine win. I though he could be in trouble, after gifting Tom Ford 3 frames to go 5-3 down. But Si seems to be able to cope very well with setbacks, unlike his opponent.

    The Brown-Dale match was quite enjoyable, and there were also some one-sided matches. I completely avoided Tables 1 & 2.

    Also remarkable is waking up to see Gao Yang playing in a Beijing tournament, just a few days after losing in Sheffield. There are 3 tour-cards available, and Bai Yulu also won her first match.

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