For the second time inside 24 hours, Judd Trump came from 3-1 down to win 4-3 and keep alive his hopes of winning the Matchroom.Live English Open.
Louis Heathcote couldn’t finish off the world number one on Tuesday night, and today it was China’s Yuan Sijun who let slip a two frame advantage. World number one Trump goes through to the last 32 to face Michael Holt or Lu Ning.
From 3-1 ahead, Yuan failed to score a point in the last three frames as Trump compiled breaks of 73, 83 and 67.
“Today was better from 3-1 down, I had to earn it,” said Trump. “I’m happy with the way I finished the game. It was nice to produce my best snooker under pressure. I always believe in myself. The form is there and hopefully it will click into gear tomorrow.”
World number five Mark Allen became the highest ranked player to be knocked out as he suffered a surprise 4-0 defeat against Robbie Williams, who is ranked 102 places lower. Breaks of 80, 70 and 61 helped Williams to a fine victory.
“All credit to Robbie, he played very well and froze me out for most of the match,” said Allen. “He potted some good long balls to get in. I didn’t make too many mistakes. I’ll just have to get back to practice because there are no secret recipes. Hopefully I won’t have too many days like today.”
Ding Junhui looked on top of his game as he beat Luca Brecel 4-1 with breaks of 97, 88 and 137. Equally impressive was Jamie Clarke’s 4-1 win over Liam Highfield as he fired runs of 99, 135 and 98.
China’s Xu Si came from 3-0 down to beat Matthew Selt 4-3 while David Grace also won the last four frames to edge out Andy Hicks 4-3.
Neil Robertson top scored with 102 in a 4-2 defeat of Mark Joyce while Kyren Wilson saw off Gao Yang 4-1 with a top run of 82.
Zhou Yuelong was let off the hook by former butcher Farakh Ajaib in a dramatic match which came down to the last two balls. Zhou got the better of a 72-minute decider after a long safety battle on the pink.
Tour rookie Ben Hancorn impressed a 4-2 defeat of Thepchaiya Un-Nooh while Steven Hallworth scored his best career win so far with a 4-3 defeat of Yan Bingtao.
If you wonder why the decider between Zhou and Ajaib was so long, well, they spent a long time on the last two balls…
World number 91 David Lilley scored a shock 4-3 victory over eighth seed Shaun Murphy. From 2-0 down, Lilley made breaks of 119 and 116 in getting back to 3-3, then got the better of a scrappy decider to register the best win of his career.
Defending champion Mark Selby was pushed all the way by China’s up-and-coming Chang Bingyu. Selby trailed 2-0 and 3-2 but made breaks of 74 and 125 in the last two frames to win 4-3.
John Higgins eased to a 4-0 win over amateur Connor Benzey with a top break of 97.
I wouldn’t say that David Lilley’s win over Shaun Murphy is a “shock”. To his own admission, Shaun came to this tournament without adequate preparation and David Lilley has an excellent record in the amateur game. He’s also a mature, experienced player.
Other than Mark Allen, Yan Bingtao and Shaun Murphy, there were other “top 16 casualties”.
Stuart Bingham lost by 4-2 to Ben Woollaston yesterday, despite scoring a 136, the highest break of the match, and his second 136 in the tournament.
Jack Lisowski was beaten 4-3 by Jak Jones. Jak Jones is a very methodical player: his AST yesterday was over 33 seconds, that probably doesn’t suit Jack Lisowski. There were three breaks over 50 in the match, all by Lisowski, but they won him only three frames.
Worth noting as well are wins by Gary Wilson over Ricky Walden (4-3). Kurt Maflin over Jordan Brown (4-0), Hossein Vafaei over Joe Perry (4-3) and Mark Davis over Zhao Xintong (4-3).
Champion Of Champions To Be Played Behind Closed Doors
The 2020 Champion of Champions will be staged behind closed doors at Marshall Arena, Milton Keynes, from Monday, November 2 until Sunday, November 8, live on ITV4.
Matchroom Multi Sport had been hoping to be able to allow spectators to attend the event, however, given the current government guidelines around fans at sporting events, the decision has been taken to stage the event behind closed doors.
The Champion of Champions will remain at Marshall Arena, where a strict ‘event bubble’ will be employed. Matchroom Multi Sport have already successfully staged two editions of Championship League Snooker, including the event in June which marked the return of live sport in the UK after the lockdown.
Champion of Champions is one of snooker’s showpiece events, featuring WST champions from the last 12 months. Neil Robertson will defend the title he won in an epic final against Judd Trump last year, while World Champion Ronnie O’Sullivan and European Masters winner Mark Selby are also among the other stars who will battle it out to be crowned Champion of Champions.
All ticket holders will receive automatic refunds of their order via the original point of purchase. Ticket holders should allow up to 30 days for this to be processed. Anybody who purchased tickets for the 2020 Champion of Champions will automatically be entitled to purchase tickets for next year’s event during an exclusive priority ticket sales period before they go on general sale.
The Champion of Champions will be broadcast live on ITV4 in the UK, and on global broadcast partners including DAZN and matchroom.live. The tournament starts with a quartet of four-man groups played over four days from Monday, November 2 until Thursday, November 5. The winner of each group progresses to the semi-finals, with one played on Friday, November 5 and the other on Saturday, November 7. The final on Sunday, November 8 will be over 19 frames.
*As European Masters winner Mark Selby had already qualified for the Champion of Champions, Mark Allen will enter the event as the highest-ranked player not already qualified. Should the English Open and/or Championship League Snooker be won by players already qualified for the Champion of Champions, places will be awarded to the highest-ranked player(s) on the World Rankings after the English Open.
The part in bold may be bad news for us, Ronnie fans. Indeed the “strict event bubble” is the reason why Ronnie withdrew from the CLS. He usually loves the ITV events, but I’m not sure that he will want to enter this one if this is in operation. Also, I don’t understand why this is actually necessary whilst some events, like the current English Open, are played under a more relaxed approach despite involving a lot more players and officials, hence, posing more risks. In his post-match with Eurosport yesterday, Ronnie said he was going back home for the night.
Fans who had purchased tickets for the original dates of the 2020 Tour Championship in Llandudno (March 17th to 22nd, 2020) will soon receive a full refund from Venue Cymru.
WST has been in regular discussions with the venue, exploring the possibility of staging the 2021 Tour Championship in Llandudno.
Venue Cymru has been supporting Betsi Cadwaladr University Health board since March so that they can deliver essential medical services during the pandemic, and this support will continue until at least Spring 2021. This means that Venue Cymru will be closed and regrettably this will result in the rescheduling or cancellation of events, which means that Llandudno will not be able to host the Tour Championship in 2021.
Original bookings will be automatically refunded, so there is no need for fans to make contact with the box office. If fans have any questions regarding their original booking please email email@example.com
WST still has a very strong and positive relationship with Venue Cymru and we hope to return to Llandudno again in the future.
The 2021 Tour Championship will run from March 22nd to 28th, with the venue to be announced in due course.
Ronnie O’Sullivan admits he’s still getting used to playing in tournaments behind closed doors, but on the table he was too good for Ryan Day as he won 4-1 to reach the third round of the Matchroom.Live English Open.
O’Sullivan felt the warmth of the Crucible crowd in August when he won the World Championship for the sixth time, but since then all events have been played without live fans. Players who usually thrive on the atmosphere have had to adapt.
Breaks of 68 and 56 gave O’Sullivan the first two frames today, before Day pulled one back with a 105. O’Sullivan made a superb 39 clearance to lead 3-1 then finished the match in frame four with tremendous pots on the green, brown and blue.
“I played ok, I missed a few balls,” said 44-year-old O’Sullivan, who now meets Matthew Stevens in the last 32. “It’s weird with no crowds, certain players need an atmosphere to get up for it. When you play a good shot you excite yourself and you don’t need the crowd to get you going. But when you are struggling you need a crowd to force you to find something. We’ve got to get used to it.
“I’m still looking for a cue action, I think as snooker players that’s all we really do. We’re always trying to find a way to try to hit solid shots and play in an efficient mode.”
The world number two wants his remarks to encourage young players to show more commitment and more consistency and prove him wrong.
‘In some ways, I was hoping that it would inspire a lot of the youngsters to work a bit harder,’ he told Pete Cohen’s podcast.
‘I care about the game, I look at youngsters and sometimes you can’t get through to them. Sometimes the best way to get through to youngsters is to give them a little bit of a knock.
‘That’s what worked for me when I was younger, whenever someone said I couldn’t do something, it inspired me to do it.
‘I just think winners think like that. If someone says you can’t do something, you first ask “why?” Then think “I’m going to show them.”
‘You get a lot of players that come on the circuit and everyone goes, “anyone can keep anyone” and yeah, anyone can beat anyone on a given day, but it’s not okay just beating me on a Monday, you’ve got to beat me Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday.
‘Anyone can beat anyone on a day, that’s a given, but it’s not about days, it’s about having good months, good years and good decades, if you want to be a true sportsman.
‘Otherwise, what are you? You’re just a pain the arse, every now and then you upset the apple cart.’
Interestingly, and related, Hector Nunns tweeted this after Ronnie’s match yesterday:
Eurosport screens exclusive documentary celebrating Ronnie O’Sullivan’s Crucible crowns
Eurosport will screen an exclusive hour-long special, hosted by Colin Murray, reliving each of Ronnie O’Sullivan’s six World Championship titles dating back to his maiden win in 2001.
Ronnie O’Sullivan: The Joy of Six airs Friday 16th October at 10pm on Eurosport 1 and the Eurosport app.
Widely regarded as the greatest player of all time, O’Sullivan delivers an insightful account as he recalls each world title – key milestones of what has been the most decorated career in snooker history, spanning over 28 years.
O’Sullivan also discusses topics which have made him one of the most interesting characters in snooker such as the challenges of success at such a young age and his struggles with depression.
Labelled ‘The Rocket’ due to being one of the fastest cueists in the game, perfectly demonstrated by his famous 5min 20sec maximum break in the first round of the 1997 World Championship.
O’Sullivan told Murray: “Everyone remembers the 147, obviously that was a memorable moment. I was young and it was a massive pay day for me, I wasn’t used to seeing pay cheques like that.
When I won my first World Championship I was struggling mentally with depression – I call it snooker depression. I was anxious and started getting panic attacks…I couldn’t deal with it.
O’Sullivan goes on to say: “I thrive on drama. It helps me play better snooker and sometimes I feel I need to create some sort of enemy….I love to turn around a not so good situation into a fantastic outcome.”
RONNIE O’SULLIVAN: WORLD-RECORD 147 WAS MEMORABLE, BUT I KNEW I WASN’T GOOD ENOUGH
Ronnie O’Sullivan produced a moment for the ages back in 1997: compiling a 147 in a record time of five minutes and 20 seconds at the Crucible. It came against Mick Price in round one, but the Rocket would suffer defeat to Darren Morgan in the very next round, leaving him to ponder where he needed to work on his game.
Ronnie O’Sullivan produced a magical 147 in the first round of the World Championship in 1997 but his loss in the very next round left the now six-time world champion pondering where he needed to improve his game.
The Rocket produced the record run in a 10-6 first-round match against Mick Price, and told Colin Murray on Ronnie O’Sullivan: The Joy of Six that the money he earned for that breaks – some £147,000 – was a massive payday.
“The 147 was memorable because I was young and it was a massive payday for me at the time, I’m not used to seeing pay cheques like that,” began O’Sullivan.
However, O’Sullivan would go on to suffer a deflating loss in the very next round, going down 13-12 to Darren Morgan, prompting O’Sullivan to immediately focus on his ultimate aim, the world title.
“That was obviously quite a memorable moment but then I lost to Darren Morgan, and I obviously just wanted to win the world title.
IT IS EVERY PLAYER’S DREAM IS TO WIN THE WORLD TITLE SO WHEN I LOST TO DARREN I JUST CAME OFF THINKING I NEED TO WORK ON MY GAME. I NEED TO FIND A CERTAIN LEVEL SO I CAN COMPETE OVER THREE SESSIONS.
O’Sullivan would win his first world title in 2001, overcoming John Higgins in the final.
Ronnie O’Sullivan on first world title: I feared I had blown it
Ronnie O’Sullivan secured his first world title courtesy of an 18-14 win against John Higgins back in 2001. The newly crowned six-times world champion said, on Ronnie O’Sullivan: The Joy of Six, that during the final he felt like he couldn’t “put three balls together”. Eurosport’s exclusive hour-long special ‘Ronnie O’Sullivan: The Joy of Six’ airs Friday 16 October at 10pm.
Ronnie O’Sullivan beat John Higgins 18-14 to claim a maiden world title back in 2001. However, the world champion has explained to Colin Murray in an exclusive hour-long special that leading 17-14, he felt he could still have had the title ripped from his grasp.
O’Sullivan, now a six-times world champion, led the 1998 world champion 17-13 but missed an easy red to the middle to allow ‘The Wizard of Wishaw’ to cut the arrears. It left O’Sullivan worried that the Scot would stage a memorable comeback.
“A point I remember is being 17-13 up and I had an easy red in the middle, but I remember thinking: ‘I’ve won this now, what am I going to say? I’m going to be picking the trophy up and thanking people’. And all of a sudden I’ve missed the red in the middle and any other player you think ‘there’s a chance I might get back to the table but John Higgins you ain’t coming back to the table’,” said O’Sullivan.
“He’s the best in those situations, he clears up and then goes 40-odd in the next and I’m thinking ‘here we go…’ He looked like he found his rhythm and I thought I wouldn’t be surprised if I lose this 18-17 now,” added O’Sullivan.
However, the 44-year-old would get his hand back on the table, compiling a break of 80 to seal a first world title, even if he felt that he would struggle to put together a run of three balls.
But he missed, and I came to the table and I made what I would consider the best 80 break I’ve ever made in my life because of how I felt inside. I didn’t think I could put three balls together let alone an 80 break to win my first world title. So for me, that’s probably the best 80 break I’ve ever made in my life.
O’Sullivan would, of course, go on to collect a further five world titles, claiming number six in a comfortable 18-8 win against Kyren Wilson back in August.
Ronnie O’Sullivan: ‘My World Snooker Championship dream has become a reality’
Ronnie O’Sullivan picks out highlights of 2020 World Snooker Championship win: ‘That was lovely stuff’
Phil Haigh Wednesday 14 Oct 2020
Ronnie O’Sullivan has reflected on his superb sixth World Championship win (Picture: PA)
Ronnie O’Sullivan has picked out the highlights of his World Snooker Championship win this year, admitting that he has watched back some of the ‘lovely stuff’ he played against Mark Selby in the semi-finals.
The Rocket won his sixth world title at the Crucible in August, beating Kyren Wilson 18-8 in a dominant performance in the final.
The 44-year-old was not at his brilliant best throughout the 17-day tournament, but did produce some superb stuff en route to lifting the trophy once again.
The epic 17-16 victory over Mark Selby in the semi-finals was arguably the most memorable match of the tournament and that is one O’Sullivan takes particular pleasure in, edging out his old foe.
The Rocket was two frames behind with three to play when he made breaks of 138, 71 and 64, although that final break didn’t quite get him over the line and it was his safety play from there that really sticks in his mind.
O’Sullivan speaking to Eurosport for an exclusive documentary said: ‘When it got to 16-14 I thought there’s no way I’m going to fudge my way over the line so I need to find three quick frames, big breaks, go for my shots and I took on a couple of shots that maybe earlier in the match I wouldn’t have taken.
‘But at this moment in time if they go in it could kick-start me into much better things, and it’s only three frames. It’s like the last mile of a 26-mile marathon.
‘I went from thinking I needed two or three chances to win the frame to thinking I need half a sniff and I can clear these balls up.
‘The 138 was a great break, I hardly put a foot wrong, and obviously the last frame I get in – bang – scoring and then I missed a red on 64. I thought “I’ve found the magic but I’ve collapsed, I’ve not finished the frame off” and he managed to get back into it.
‘Towards the end of that frame it was just unbelievable. To win that type of frame against Selby, the final frame after three days. I watch a couple of safety shots back and I just think “that was lovely stuff”.
There were close wins over Ding Junhui and Mark Williams in the second round and quarter-finals, but arguably the Rocket’s best performance was in round one when he swept aside Thepchaiya Un-Nooh 10-1.
It was the shortest match in Crucible history, lasting just 108 minutes, with the Rocket averaging just 14 seconds-per-shot.
‘It felt quite clinical, it felt quite controlled, and when you start telling me the shot time you think it’s ridiculous how I can play that quick yet feel like I’m not speeding round the table,’ said Ronnie.
O’Sullivan destroyed Thepchaiya in round one (Picture: Benjamin Mole/WST/REX)
The final was reasonably close after two sessions with O’Sullivan leading Wilson 10-7, but the Rocket feels his work on the practice table on the final morning won him the game and the title.
‘I must admit, I think that final was won probably at 10am in the morning at the practice table at the Crucible,’ he said.
‘I changed my grip, it had changed my timing, I was playing solid shots, I was able to play blind shots well, they were going in the middle.
‘I just thought “lovely, I’m going to take that into the world final on the final day, I’ve got a cue action, no matter what he throws at me at some point he’s going to make a mistake. I’m confident I’m going to be able to win the frame in one visit and build momentum from there.”‘
Wilson won just one more frame as O’Sullivan claimed the third session 7-1 and needed just one frame of the final session to clinch victory.
Ronnie O’Sullivan: The Joy of Six airs this Friday at 10pm on Eurosport 1.
SNOOKER, THE JOY OF SIX: RONNIE O’SULLIVAN ON DEL HILL BUST-UP DURING 2004 WORLD FINAL
In an exclusive hour-long special, Ronnie O’Sullivan tells Colin Murray of the bust-up he had with former coacher Del Hill during the 2004 world final. O’Sullivan told Murray that he was “fuming” when he saw former coach Del Hill working with opponent Graeme Dott in the practice room ahead of the final. ‘Ronnie O’Sullivan: The Joy of Six’ airs Friday 16 October at 10pm on Eurosport 1.
Ronnie O’Sullivan told was left fuming after world final opponent Graeme Dott had acquired friend and former coach Del Hill to assist him ahead the world title showdown in 2004.
The Rocket, who had beaten seven-time finalist Stephen Hendry 17-4 in the semi-final, slumped to a four-frame deficit against Dott. The Rocket would eventually fight back to win 18-8 but a surprise meeting with Hill in the practice room had left him unable to focus.
“I worked with a guy who worked with me for years – Del [Hill] – and we were good friends and a coach for quite a long time,” began O’Sullivan.
I GOT TO THE FINAL AND I HADN’T SEEN DEL FOR EIGHT, NINE OR TEN DAYS AND ALL OF HIS PLAYERS HAD GOT BEATEN AND I WALKED TO THE PRACTICE ROOM AND THERE WAS DEL GETTING BALLS OUT FOR [FINAL OPPONENT] GRAEME DOTT. SO STRAIGHT AWAY MY HEAD WAS GONE
It has quite the effect on O’Sullivan, something his then-coach Ray Reardon could not fathom.
“This guy that I’d shared my life with, I hadn’t seen him all tournament and yet he’s come up here for the final and it threw me off a little bit. So I didn’t know how to with it. I said to Ray [Reardon] it was like a family member has gone onto the other side and gone against me. Ray couldn’t understand it was and just said to play the game but in my head I couldn’t focus on the game because I was thinking more about that.”
I’VE NEVER REALLY TOLD THAT STORY BUT THAT’S THE TRUTH. I WAS FUMING.
O’Sullivan recovered to win but not before he had it out with Hill.
“I did actually phone him up after the first session and we had quite a heated discussion on the phone. Not on Del’s side, he was quite calm and placid!
I REALLY SAID WHAT I FELT I HAD TO SAY AND I REALLY REGRET SOME OF THE THINGS I SAID BUT AT THE TIME I REALLY FELT IT.
“It was just one of those things and we didn’t speak for a long time but I called him about four or five months ago. I pretended to be some Russian dude wanting lessons. I said: ‘Don’t be silly, it’s me Ronnie!’ and he said: ‘Oh hello, how are ya?, and he sent me a text saying good luck before the world championships. So it was just one of those moments.”
Peter Lines returned a positive Covid-19 test at the English Open on Tuesday morning forcing him out of the event, but he has been hit harder by the ‘sickener’ of son Oliver having to withdraw as well, despite returning a negative test result.
It is a desperately unfortunate situation for both, but Oli will feel especially aggrieved in sporting terms as he had already won his first round match with an impressive 4-1 defeat of Noppon Saengkham.
Oliver tested negative before his first round match on Monday, with Peter only arriving in Milton Keynes later on Monday and a positive result confirmed on Tuesday morning.
The father and son, who live together in Leeds, had not seen each other since Saturday morning, but that was enough for Oli to be forced to withdraw.
Peter, who fortunately is showing no symptoms, explained the story to Metro.co.uk: ‘No, no symptoms I feel fine. The test came through about 7 o’clock this morning.
‘It’s a weird one, it’s a bit raw at the moment. Not so much for me, but for Oliver who has passed the test, to have to pull out is an absolute sickener.
‘Oliver has no symptoms, his test came back negative, he played his first round match and won, but obviously because he spent some time with me last week, they’ve said he had to pull out.
‘I hadn’t seen Oliver since Saturday morning and I didn’t get there till yesterday. There’s a 48 hour period where they ask if you’ve seen anyone and I hadn’t, but because we live together they went back further.
‘We suggested him getting tested again but they said no because it could take four or five days for it to come out for him
‘Even if you passed again tomorrow, it could not show up till Wednesday or Thursday so he had to pull out, which is an absolute sickener for him because he’d won and played well.’
Oliver had made breaks of 110 and 70 in the impressive win over the Thai star, which followed some encouraging performances in the recent Championship League.
The 25-year-old won back his tour card through Q School over the summer and is starting to show some form, so this is especially frustrating for the Yorkshire family.
‘He’s been working really hard to get his game back on track so it’s a kick in the teeth for him,’ said Peter.
‘He’s been working really hard the last few months, he’s sort of teamed up with Ken Doherty, working with him a little bit for some pointers and advice and it’s going really well.
‘He’s really knuckled down, he’s started to show the benefits of it, but it’s another kick in the teeth but he’ll be alright and he’ll be back.’
Lines, 50, is certainly not arguing the decision, it is just a frustrating one for him and his son as their early season is disrupted by the positive test result.
Not only are both out of the English Open, but both must now go into 14 days of isolation.
‘It is what it is, they can’t risk shutting the whole tour down, so there’s nothing you can really do about it. We won’t be the last ones this season, there’ll be a few others,’ said Peter.
‘It’s unprecedented times, they’ve got to make decisions on the spot, some will be right, some by wrong but they’ve got to try and do the right thing.
’14 days we’ll be at home from now, not do anything, not even leave the house, nothing.’
Stuart Carrington had tested positive for Covid-19 on the opening morning of the tournament and both he and Sam Craigie, who he had come into contact with, were forced to withdraw as well.
Carrington and Craigie travelled to the tournament together, which is something the Lines men had avoided, but they all suffered the same fate.
‘Carrington and Craigie travelled together to the comp, we went separately,’ explained Peter. ‘Oliver had been down in London practicing and I got the train down there on my own, stayed on my own, done the right thing, but rules are rules aren’t they?
‘We’re in an awkward position as professionals who live together because if one fails the other is definitely getting kicked out, it’s an awkward one.
‘Our next tournament is in about four weeks so hopefully we’ll be okay by then.’
The Lines duo should be back and ready to play at the German Masters qualifiers in Milton Keynes on 10 November.
Meanwhile the beneficiaries in Milton Keynes were Anthony McGill who is into the third round with two byes as he was due to play Craigie and then Oli Lines, while Luo Honghao is into round two after Peter withdrew.
Shaun Murphy was barely able to practise before his Matchroom.Live English Open meeting with Robert Milkins but showed his class in the final frame to win 4-3 and book a place in the second round.
Murphy lives in Dublin so every time he arrives in Ireland from the UK he has to self isolate for 14 days due to Covid-19 restrictions. That has left him short of table time, but he had just enough in his locker to fend off the challenge of Milkins in Milton Keynes.
Former World Champion Murphy made a break of 122 in the opening frame and went on to lead 3-1. Milkins made a 103 in frame five and took the sixth for 3-3, then had first clear chance in the decider but made just 11 before mis-cueing as he attempted to pot a red to a baulk corner. Murphy responded with 65 which proved the crucial contribution as he set up a last 64 match with David Lilley.
“I’m relieved,” admitted world number eight Murphy. “Rob had a good chance in the last frame, it surprised me when he miscued. There has never been anything wrong with my bottle. Sometimes I’m too aggressive but that’s the way I’ve always played, I’m 38 now and too old to go more negative. I’ve got six to ten more years in the game and I’m at the stage where I’m just going to enjoy it and go for my shots.
“For myself and the other players from Ireland, when we travel home from England we have to stay in our houses. I’ve had two weeks between the European Masters and this event without being able to hit any balls. It’s hard to then come here and try to perform to a high level. I came over a day early and had a couple of hours practice at a club in Sheffield. It’s not where I want to be as a sportsperson but it’s out of my control.
“When there’s a run of events in November and December I’ll potentially stay in England for a few weeks. No one wants to be away from their kids for that long but I’ll have to kiss them goodbye and see them when Santa comes.”
McLeod And Gilbert Bust-Up
Rory McLeod beat David Gilbert 4-2 in a bad-tempered clash which included a heated exchange towards the end of the fourth frame. After Gilbert fouled on the green, McLeod felt he should have been awarded a free ball. Referee Mark King disagreed, while Gilbert also felt it was not a free ball.
McLeod eventually accepted the decision and later cleared from green to black to win the frame for 2-2. He took the next two with breaks of 64 and 46 for victory.
Reflecting on the incident in frame four, Gilbert said: “He thought it was a free ball and it wasn’t. Rory tries to be intimidating all the time but it wasn’t a free ball and that was that – the referee called it right. He didn’t intimidate me – you can’t intimidate me – but he tried to put pressure on the referee.
“Rory said to me he was disappointed in me – he obviously wanted me to agree with him and I would have agreed with him if I thought he was right. I’m not a cheat in any kind of way. I think he’s bang out of order for saying that but I’m not too bothered either. That’s not the reason why I got beat today – I got beat today because I’m just playing awful and that’s it.”
McLeod responded: “It was clearly a free ball. I asked David to come round and have a look and he just flat refused to, he just said he’d take the referee’s word for it. I’ve known David a long time but the etiquette he had in that match, not just in that incident, was horrendous. I’ve never known him to be like that.
“I haven’t got issues with David now – it’s just a situation which could have been dealt with a lot better by all parties. Why would I try and intimidate him? That’s just not my way. He’s a top 16 player and he’s more intimidating than I would be in that position.”
Kyren Wilson saw off Dominic Dale 4-2 with top runs of 51, 75 and 59, while Jamie Jones beat his namesake Duane 4-2 with a top break of 103.
Jack Lisowski made breaks of 67, 83, 55 and 65 in a 4-2 defeat of Li Hang, while Germany’s Simon Lichtenberg edged out Anthony Hamilton 4-3 with a match-winning 52 in the decider.
Nigel Bond was 3-2 down against Ashley Hugill and 60-0 down in frame six, but stole that frame with the help of two snookers, and then made an 86 in the decider.
The situation of the Irish players is a difficult one and surely explains some of the results we got in the first round over the last two days.
This is the Gilbert v McLeod incident:
It’s hard to judge from the camera angle.
You can only admire Nigel Bond even if he’s hard to watch at times. What a fighter!
Louis Heathcote couldn’t convert a 3-1 lead into a shock victory over Judd Trump as the world number one hit back to edge a 4-3 success in the first round of the Matchroom.Live English Open.
The clash between last season’s Player of the Year and Rookie of the Year proved an exciting battle as Heathcote looked to be in charge for long spells, but the 23-year-old wasn’t able to finish the job. Trump goes through to the last 64 to face Yuan Sijun.
Bristol’s Trump started well with a break of 75 in the opening frame, but then lost a scrappy second. Heathcote compiled breaks of 68 and 53 to lead 3-1, and he had a match-winning chance in frame five but under-hit a red to a top corner on 32, leaving it short of the pocket. Trump made an 86 for 3-2 then got the better of a fragmented sixth frame to force the decider. A run of 61 helped Trump over the winning line.
“Louis will be very disappointed because he had chances,” said 31-year-old Trump. “I started well but then it went scrappy. I made some good long pots in the last frame and fell over the line in the end. At the last tournament (the European Masters) I blew everyone away up until the semi-finals but then lost. So it can be better to start slowly. I’m still in it and I can’t play worse than I did today.
“In terms of the season, we don’t know what’s around the corner. But one day we’re going to wake up and everything will be back to normal with lots of big tournaments, so I’ll be prepared for that.”
Titanium Helps Higgins Show Mettle
John Higgins, who has recently switched to a different chalk and titanium ferrule, scored a 4-2 win over James Cahill. The Scot now meets English wild card Connor Benzey.
Four-time World Champion Higgins made a 122 in the second frame to lead 2-0. Cahill, renowned for scoring wins over the likes of Ronnie O’Sullivan and Mark Selby, fought back to 2-2 with 78 and 92. But Higgins took the last two frames with 67 and 57.
“I changed to Taom chalk a while ago and I’m now playing shots I could never play before,” said 45-year-old Higgins. “Robert Milkins, who usually uses the same chalk as me, came up to me in the practice room and said I should give it a go. In the last couple of weeks in practice I have not had a kick or bad bounce so I am totally sold on it now.
“I am using the titanium ferrule now as well and that has also made a difference. Stephen Maguire had it and I noticed how well he played with it. I feel good about my game, if you can add these little things that make an improvement then it helps.”
Louis Heathcote should have won that match. In my opinion he collapsed under pressure. He was 3-1 up and in the balls, leading by 32-0. He badly underhit a red that did not reach the pocket, leaving Judd Trump bang in the balls, with a red nearly over a the pocket. Judd made only 9 from it, missing the blue off its spot only three shots later and leaving Louis in the balls, only for Louis to inmmediately miss a red with the rest. The red didn’t even get near the pocket. You can’t do that against a top player. They smell blood, they take confidence from it and crush you.
What WST did not report…
Simon Lichtenberg got an excellent win against Anthony Hamilton. There was a break over 50 in five of the seven frames they played, and most young players struggle against very experienced, hard match player like Anthony.
Alexander Ursenbacher also registered a good win: he beat Graeme Dott by 4-2. Alex seems to be playing faster recently.
Zhao Jianbo beat Michael White by 4-3. I watched that match and somehow I always felt that Zhao was the one in control. It’s sad, and hard to understand, what happened to Michael White. He won two ranking titles, at 24 years of age he was in the top 16 and now he’s lost his tour card and looks very unreliable at the table.
Jak Jones beat Elliot Slessor by 4-1. Elliot Slessor won the first frame, that lasted an eternity … maybe someone can find out how long exactly. Then Jak Jones took four on the trot – in what felt like less time than was required for the first frame alone – with breaks of 100, 105 and 80.
Mark Davis beat Daniel Wells by 4-1, but, without watching the match it’s hard to draw any conclusion from the score. Daniel Wells, who had tested positive at the European Masters about three weeks ago, had to self isolate and, probably, came to this match rusty and unprepared.
Stuart Carrington and referee Andrew Barklam have tested positive for Covid-19 at snooker’s Matchroom.Live English Open in Milton Keynes.
Carrington came into contact with Sam Craigie on Sunday so both players have been withdrawn from the event.
Carrington was due to play Thepchaiya Un-Nooh in the first round on Tuesday, while Craigie was due to face Anthony McGill on Monday. Un-Nooh and McGill both receive a bye to the second round of the world ranking event.
All other players and officials tested at the event so far have had negative results.
Carrington and Craigie will now undergo a period of self isolation and will receive the support of WST.
Since WST events restarted in June, strict Covid-19 regulations have been and continue to be followed, under UK Government guidance.
Mark Selby’s intention to play at a faster pace paid dividends as he white-washed Fan Zhengyi 4-0 to start the defence of his Matchroom.Live English Open title in perfect fashion.
Selby already has one trophy in the cabinet this season having won the BetVictor European Masters last month, and is full of confidence as he aims to make it back-to-back titles. He meets Chang Bingyu or Aaron Hill in the last 64.
His coach Chris Henry has encouraged the world number four to play at a faster pace and trust his natural ability.
“If you play on instinct it gives you a better chance of playing well,” said Selby, who made a top break of 70 today and averaged 20.6 seconds a shot. “Otherwise you can over-think and that can lead to anxiety and muscle tension. I am trying to just see the shot and play it, rather than having a look around the table first and trying to work the break out. I have never done that in the past so it was alien to me at first, but I am getting used to it now.
“On the practice table I play with a nice rhythm, then in the past I was getting to tournaments and trying too hard, as if it was life or death. There are a lot worse things going on in the world than a game of snooker. So I’m just trying to bring that same rhythm and attitude that I have in practice out there on the match table.”
Selby beat David Gilbert 9-1 in the final of this event last year, ending a long title drought, and has since won two other ranking events. “On and off the table I feel more calm with myself,” added the 37-year-old from Leicester. “Before, I was getting frustrated and anxious out there, missing balls and getting nervous. Now I’m at ease with everything I’m doing. If I miss balls it’s easier to accept because I know how to correct it.”
Ding Junhui came from 3-0 down to beat Si Jiahui 4-3 in a Chinese derby. Si, sporting a blue haircut, had chances for victory but couldn’t take them as Ding fired breaks of 77, 50, 66 and 53 to win the last four frames.
Neil Robertson’s route into round two was far easier as he saw off Lyu Haotian 4-0 with top runs of 114, 87 and 86.
Michael Holt top scored with 66 in a 4-1 defeat of Jimmy White while Joe Perry made the highest break so far, 139, in a 4-1 win over Riley Parsons.
WST should give something to charity for every terrible pun they come up with… great cause!
“Missing the black has probably cost me the match,” said Dott. “If the black goes in, I go 5-1 ahead and wouldn’t lose. But after that, he just bored me to tears.
I felt that I was living in a nightmare. I don’t know what the stats were, but I’m guessing that even in the frame I won my highest break must have been about 12. I just couldn’t get in the balls. Either the red was safe, the black was safe, the pink was safe…I was finding it hard to stay interested.
“I’m not having a go at him. He is without a shadow of a doubt the best in the world at frames like that. I just find it hard to play them.”
“It could be a long day tomorrow,” said Dott. “I don’t think that is a good advert for snooker tonight. That is just my personal opinion. I don’t like being involved in games were lots of people are actually leaving.”It is not so much putting me off. You just don’t get rhythm. It is like killing the game. It is the equivalent of a football team putting 11 men behind the ball and not attempting to come out. It is just the way Mark plays.
He enjoys frames like that, but by the time it reached 5-5, I had no rhythm whatsoever. I mean none. Almost like I hadn’t potted a ball.
“I know Mark will say the balls went awkward, but he constructs the frames that way. And it was hard to get out of.
In one of the frames I thought I’d just smash the balls up. Even in the last frame, I went for a long red that I potted that I would probably never have went for because I didn’t want to get involved in a safety game.
It might sound like I am having a go at him, but I am not. He is the complete opposite of Judd Trump, but Mark is not there to entertain the crowd.”
And I remember only too well: I was there. Graeme questioned the possibility that Mark could really enjoy playing this way. He was rigth. And it left me walking back to my hotel, well past midnight, in a blizzard for about an hour, and catching a very bad cold.
So thank you Chris Henry! Everyone will be better for it!
Si Jiahui should really have won that match. He had several occasions to do so. Ding looked good in the balls but all other aspects of his game need improvement.
Ireland’s Aaron Hill, who knocked O’Sullivan out of the BetVictor European Masters, suffered a 4-2 reverse against China’s Chang Bingyu.
Crucible quarter-finalist Kurt Maflin edged out rookie Peter Devlin 4-3. Breaks of 100, 51 and 100 saw Maflin race into a 3-0 lead, before Devlin fought back to 3-3. Norway’s Maflin got the better of the decider to earn a place in the last 64.
Thailand’s Sunny Akani scored a surprise 4-1 win over Stephen Maguire while 18-year-old English wild card Connor Benzey scored an impressive 4-3 victory over Fraser Patrick.
Aaron Hill defeat should not come as a real surprise. After beating the World Champion last month, and the huge impact that this win had in Ireland, he now has to carry a lot more expectations and that can be difficult. Yesterday he was facing another young player, on an outside table and he was probably “expected” to come on top. Such situation can be difficult to manage for such a young player.
Maguire’s defeat is no surprise whatsoever. Since winning the 2020 Tour Championship last season, he’s not done much at all. So far this season he’s only won two matches of the six he played. Very strange. That said, Sunny Akani scored heavily: he had breaks of 57, 72, 71 and 59 in the last three frames of the match.
Not reported on by WST …
In the morning:
Scott Donaldson was beaten 4-1 by Andy Hicks in a match that, going by the frames’ scores, was extremely close, and featured no break over 50. That, for me, was more of a suprise than Maguire’s exit.
Yan Bingtao defeated Alan MacManus by 4-2. The surprising bit here is how it happened. Alan scored three of the four 50+ breaks of the match, Yan won on hard match play.
In the afternoon:
Tour rookie, Farakh Ajaib whitewahed Rod Lawler, scoring his first century as a professional in the process.
Oliver Lines beat Noppon Saengkham by 4-1, and the *returning Steven Hallworth” beat Martin Gould by the same score. Noppon is yet to find some form this season, Martin who had narrowly lost by 9-8 to Mark Selby in the Final of the European Masters only two weeks ago, won the first frame and was then outplayed for the rest of the match. Surprising.
Away from the limelights, and away fom the “live scores” because of scoreboard issues, Joe O’Connor and Soheil Vahedi produced a lot of drama. All frames were close. Joe lead 3-0, only for Soheil to come back at him and force a decider. In the sixth frame Joe had a 62 break, but lost by 65-63. The decider was resolved on the last pink. When Joe, on a break of 60, reached the last colours state, his opponent needed one snooker: the score was 60-30. However, Joe went in-off after potting the yellow. His reaction showed that he thought he had blown it. With the yellow back on the table, and benefitting from his opponent’s 4 points penalty, Soheil could win by one point, but he needed all seven remaining balls. He didn’t get ideal position on the pink and missed it. Joe potted the pink to win.
Ronnie won his first game of the season yesterday, when he beat Brian Ochoiski, the 21 years old amateur from France, in the last 128 round of the 2020 English Open.
Here are the scores:
Ronnie looked very rusty and nervous at the start of the match, whilst Brian started brilliantly. He took full advantage in the first frame when Ronnie missed a long pink to the yellow pocket. He won the second frame with a wonderful century, and he was first in again in the third frame. The shot that turned the match around was a missed long pink in the yellow pocket by Brian, ironically, the exact same shot that Ronnie had missed in the first frame. Ronnie didn’t win the frame from there, but he made a good 51 and that settled him. From then on, it was pretty much one way traffic although Ronnie will need to improve if he is to go deep in the tournament.
Ronnie said something interesting in his post-match interview: he changed his shot selection and approach to the match because Brian wasn’t responding to his “normal ” shot selection the way he expected. Ronnie then allegedly decided to “go for eveything”, just a Brian did. I’m not sure about that though, because Ronnie actually did play quite a number of excellent safeties. His weakness, as always when not match-sharp, was his long potting.
Brian’s excellent performance overall shouldn’t surprise anybody. In the European Masters, last month, he had taken Jack Lisowski to a decider. In the Championship League Snooker, he had managed a draw with Joe O’Connor, taken a frame from John Higgins, and finished third of his group, earning his first “professional” prize money. Yesterday, he scored his first century in the professional game. He’s still learning. He comes from a country where snooker is’nt big. He’s still raw, but his talent is evident. He’s definitely one to watch, this season and beyond, and we will see plenty of him because he came second on the 2020 Q-school Order of Merit, so he is likely to be invited in most tournaments this season.
Here is the report by WST:
O’Sullivan Battles Through French Resistance
Ronnie O’Sullivan ended up pretty in pink as he came from 2-0 down to beat Frenchman Brian Ochoiski 4-2 in the first round of the Matchroom.Live English Open.
World Champion O’Sullivan, wearing pink varnish on his fingernails to help raise awareness for breast cancer charity Future Dreams, was in danger of an early exit in Milton Keynes but clicked into gear after losing the first two frames.
Talented 21-year-old amateur Ochoiski took a tight opening frame then showed his potential with a superb break of 105. He had two early chances in frame three, but a missed pink on 9 proved a turning point. O’Sullivan made 51 in taking the frame then compiled runs of 113, 55 and 52 in winning the next three.
World number two O’Sullivan, who won this event in 2017, will face Ryan Day or Mark Lloyd in round two on Wednesday.
“Sometimes you have to find the right style of play for a certain opponent,” said O’Sullivan. “Tonight there was no point in me playing the right shot, because then he didn’t play the shots I thought he would play. So I thought I’d play the same game as him and go for everything.”
As for the nail varnish, O’Sullivan added: “A friend asked if I would wear it and I thought ‘why not’? I actually really like it. Anything to help the needy and the vulnerable out. It’s good to get behind great causes and great charities. It’s something I have never been involved with before, but I thought it was a great idea. If it helps create awareness for breast cancer that can only be a positive thing.”
This is Ronnie’s tweet about his fingernails painting ahead of his match
Ronnie was interviewed by Eurosport… it made for spooky viewing at times 👻
Ronnie O’Sullivan would not be disappointed if he never played in the Masters again and suggests he could miss future World Championships when crowds return to the Crucible.
The Rocket withdrew from the Masters this year, saying he simply didn’t want to deal with the media commitments and requests for tickets that come with the London event.
His fans hoped that it was just a year off from the tournament, but the 44-year-old may never return to the event he has won seven times in the past.
Having won his sixth world title in Sheffield this year, with either no crowd or a very limited number of spectators at the Crucible, O’Sullivan is more determined than ever to cut out the stresses of big events on the calender.
This could mean that he never contests another Masters, and he has even hinted that the World Championship could be removed from his diary when fans return.
‘For this year’s World Championships, there was no visitors, no guests, no one at the stage door, I could get in and out of Sheffield and I’ve never felt so relaxed there in my life,’ O’Sullivan told Pete Cohen’s Mi365 Podcast.
‘It wasn’t snooker, it was the stuff that surrounds certain tournaments. That was the reason I didn’t play in the Masters, because it’s a huge circus there.
‘Doing that was stopping me actually enjoying playing and for me it’s all about the playing side of it. So I decided to not play in any tournament that snooker wasn’t the priority.
‘So now, low-key events and the China events, I know the travelling can be quite hard, but once I’m there, my time’s not used up in that way, they allow you to just play snooker. They are the biggest events as well, and I do like China.
‘I won’t play a lot of the events where the circus is around, unless I like the town.
‘So York [UK Championship], I have to accept the circus there because I really love York and it’s a real good holiday for me.
‘London, the Masters is a no-no for me, if I never played in that again I wouldn’t be disappointed.
‘World Championships is a bit like that, unless Covid is still lingering around next year then I’d quite look forward to the peace and quiet in Sheffield that I had this year.
‘I’m a lot happier when I do what I want to do and set my own rules.’
It would certainly be a big surprise if O’Sullivan did not return to Sheffield next year to defend his world title and try to equal Stephen Hendry’s record of seven triumphs at the Crucible.
While he may prefer the event without a crowd involved, Hendry’s is one of the few records the Rocket has yet to break and he will almost certainly attempt to match it in 2021.
However, having skipped the Masters this year, it may well be that the Alexandra Palace crowd will have to go without O’Sullivan again in future.
The reigning world champion is in action in the English Open on Monday night, in his second event of the season when he takes on Brian Ochoiski in round one in Milton Keynes.
Nothing really new in the interview, but confirmation that Ronnie will very likely play in York, probably not at the Masters, unless “no crowd” prompts a change of mind … as for the World, well, his sponsors might have something to say about it, as they did last season. That said WST has put Crucible tickets on sale, but only in limited numbers. So clearly they still expect restrictions to be in place come April 2021.