2023 Crucible – Day 11 – First of the QFs Round

The quarter-finals round started yesterday and Ronnie had to play two sessions, one in the morning, one in the evening. He is 10-6 up at the end of the day.

Hereafter are the reports by WST:

Ronnie goes 6-2 up in his first QFs session

Rocket In Charge / Allen And Jones Level

Defending champion Ronnie O’Sullivan blitzed to a 6-2 lead over Luca Brecel following the first session of their Cazoo World Championship quarter-final in Sheffield.

The Rocket earned his quarter-final spot by making light work of a grudge match with Hossein Vafaei in the previous round. The pair exchanged words in the media ahead of the game, but ultimately O’Sullivan did most of his talking on the table and eased to a 13-2 win.

Brecel’s opening round win over Ricky Walden was his first ever victory at the Crucible, having fallen at the first hurdle in his previous five appearances. The Belgian followed that up with a thrilling 13-11 defeat of Mark Williams to make the quarters.

It was Brecel who made the early running this morning. He averaged just 12 seconds a shot on his way to crafting a magnificent 93 to take the opener. O’Sullivan responded by taking the second with breaks of 56 and 51 to restore parity. They traded the next two frames to end all square at 2-2 heading into the interval.

When play resumed O’Sullivan took complete control of proceedings. He claimed the lead for the first time at 3-2 and then fired in a superb 128 to double his advantage.

The seventh frame saw Brecel come back from requiring two snookers, only to miss the pink and leave it over the pocket for O’Sullivan to move 5-2 ahead. The 39-time ranking event winner then made it five on the bounce with an 85 break to take the last of the session and end 6-2 ahead. They will resume this evening from 7pm.

Ronnie leads by 10-6 at the end of hi second QFs session

O’Sullivan Opens Up 10-6 Lead

Playing his 100th match at the Crucible, Ronnie O’Sullivan took a 10-6 lead over Luca Brecel in the second session of their Cazoo World Championship quarter-final, and is just three frames away from the next round.

This entertaining tie, in which O’Sullivan’s average shot time is 19.1 seconds and Brecel just 17.7,  returns for the concluding session on Wednesday at 2.30pm. First to 13 frames goes into the semi-finals, and if O’Sullivan makes it then he will be into the one-table situation at the Crucible for the 14th time.

World number one O’Sullivan is chasing an eighth world title, which would put him one ahead of Stephen Hendry’s seven. Belgium’s Brecel had never won a match at the Crucible before this tournament, and must win seven of the last nine frames to keep his run going.

Ninth seed Brecel trailed 6-2 after the first session but made the perfect start tonight with a break of 128. In frame ten, O’Sullivan led 49-42 when he missed a mid-range pot on the penultimate red, and Brecel cleared to close to 6-4. O’Sullivan bounced back with a break of 68 to win the 12th and he dominated frame 12 to lead 8-4 at the interval.

Brecel enjoyed a huge slice of good fortune in the 13th as, leading 58-37, he missed an attempted pot on the last red but fluked a difficult snooker, and from the chance that followed he closed the gap. A rapid run of 81 got him within two frames at 8-6. The luck turned in O’Sullivan’s favour in the 15th when, up 26 points, he fluked frame-ball yellow when escaping from a snooker. And the Englishman dominated the last of the night to share the session 4-4 and maintain his advantage.

Here are the scores after the first two sessions:

It’s not telling the whole story though. Ronnie was far from his best and looked very tired. Luca was the better player but his approach to the match and outlandish shot selection at times didn’t impress Alan Mc Manus. Alan was particularly unhappy with Luca playing wild “hit and hope” shots when snookered rigth from the fits escape attempt. Ronnie punished him each time.

Speaking in the Eurosport studio this is what he had to say:

Ronnie O’Sullivan was “vulnerable” against Luca Brecel, according to Jimmy White, and Alan McManus feels the defending champion will leave no stone unturned in a bid to find his best form.

O’Sullivan was put under pressure by Brecel on Tuesday evening, but shared the session to retain his four-frame lead in their World Championship quarter-final.

White and McManus feel Brecel missed a major opportunity to put O’Sullivan to the sword.

Ronnie has been very vulnerable tonight, he has missed so many balls,” White said in the Eurosport studio. “He was laughing when he missed a red by so far.

He’s just not firing on all cylinders and Luca Brecel kept getting in and getting the opportunities and just gifting Ronnie frames.

If you look at the scoreboard, he won’t be happy with his day’s work. He did not play well at all

He played nowhere near like he did against Hossein [Vafaei]. He has not carried on, but is still 10-6 up. For me, the match is done.

He’ll be looking back on how bad he’s played, but the competitor that he is, he’ll see he’s 10-6 up and think ‘I haven’t even played here’.

He will give it maximum again tomorrow to get over the line and reset for the semi-finals

He has had a chance, Luca, there to be in the match, but he’s not now for me. He is too far behind. It will be Ronnie nursing this lead over the line and going again.”

McManus felt O’Sullivan was able to preserve his lead because he played smart snooker, knowing his form was not there.

He is four frames ahead because he was committed to his own cause,” McManus said. “He is not playing well, is in second gear, but is at 92% pot success. What does that tell you? It tells me that every time he lands on something that is a bit dicey, which has been a lot as he is not putting together big numbers, he tucks the cue ball under the baulk cushion. That is what you have got to do.

The match concludes on Wednesday afternoon, and McManus feels O’Sullivan will be at the Crucible early to iron out some issues.

He said: “We can’t get into Ronnie’s mind but if I was hazarding a guess, Ronnie will be in early here tomorrow on the practice table working out a couple of things that he will feel from that session that went wrong

He will take maybe an hour and a half. He did it in the final [in 2020] against Kyren Wilson and it paid off. No stone will remain unturned, I can guarantee it with Ronnie.

There might be a lack of form, but you retain your focus. You don’t give in, you dig in.”

I do hope that Ronnie will be better today and can finish the job quickly this afternoon. We know that he’s not at his best health-wise and he certainly could do with some rest before the semi-finals … if he gets to that stage. Fingers crossed.

Here some pictures shared on social media

As for the other matches … they are all … “all-square”.

Mark Allen and Jak Jones are locked at 8-8. It’s quite extraordinary this from Jak Jones against allegedly the player of the season.

Anthony McGill and Si Jiahui finished their session on 4-4. Si was the better player early on and looked increasingly tired as the session unfolded. He will be happy that it ended all-square.

It’s also 4-4 in the Higgins v Selby match. I didn’t watch any of it but Selby won the last three of the session, without allowing Higgins a single point. Both players are currently on 27+ sec per shot, which is slow … but it’s worth noting that Selby was at 35+ at one point during the first mini-session 🤨.

2 thoughts on “2023 Crucible – Day 11 – First of the QFs Round

  1. Seems I was wrong. Ronnie did not play all that great, the Vafaei-match was overhyped, but did not reflect anything, but I certainly did not expect Ronnie to squander a 10-6 lead. Not to mention that there were at least 3 frames in the first mini session he should have won and missed sitters instead. (I did not care to watch the second part, it was too painful.) In an ironic way it is a fitting ending to the terrible season he had and maybe a relief of not having to lose to McGill or a final to Selby/Higgins. But a very disappointing outcome nevertheless.

  2. This was Ronnie’s worst session so far, really lucky he ended up 4-4 on that, thus preserving the lead. I like McManus’ assessments about playing smart and some of Brecel’s outlandish shots surprised me, though they were welcome in their catastrophic effect to Luca. Hope, Ronnie can win quick today, but he certainly needs to play better than so far if he gets to the semis.

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