At the Palace … day 6

Day 6 in Alexandra Palace saw the completion of the QF stage and once again players who had played really well in the last 16, weren’t able to carry his form in the next round. BTW, Ronnie was back in the ES studio, on the couch with Colin, Jimmy and Neil.

Shaun Murphy was nowhere near as good as he had been against Ali Carter, whilst Judd Trump improved on his first round form. The first part of the match was a bit disappointing, both players appeared to struggle. But that changed after the MSI and it became a really good contest.

John Higgins played really well and had far too much for Day who was under pressure from the start and never really managed to put Higgins under any form of pressure in return.

Masters2017QFTrumpWinner

here is the report on Worldsnooker

It was a bad day for Shaun Murphy at the Dafabet Masters as he was chased around the arena by a pair of wasps and then felt the sting in Judd Trump’s tail.

Trump won 6-4 to reach the semi-finals at Alexandra Palace and set up a match with Kyren Wilson on Saturday afternoon. It’s the third time Trump has reached the last four of snooker’s biggest invitation event, having done so in 2012 and 2016, and he’s aiming to make the final for the first time.

World number three Trump rose to the occasion at the business end today and will now be confident of going on to win his first Triple Crown title since the 2011 UK Championship. He’s also seeking his second title of the season having win the European Masters in October.

The 28-year-old from Bristol took the opening frame with a break of 57 and the second with an excellent 60 clearance. Frame three lasted 31 minutes and went Murphy’s way as he cleared from yellow to pink.

Midway through the fourth, Murphy found the wasps buzzing around his head and there was  delay of several minutes as he waited for the insects to fly away. It was Trump who took the frame to go 3-1 ahead.

Murphy, who won the Masters in 2015, made a 54 in taking frame five and he had first chance in the sixth but missed the blue to a baulk corner on 15 and his opponent punished him with 91. World number six Murphy hit back with a break of 95 to close to 4-3.

In frame eight, Trump was on 12 when he was unlucky to knock a red in when splitting the pack, allowing Murphy to make 59 which levelled the match. But it was Trump who stepped up to the plate as breaks of 111 and 113, his first centuries of the tournament, saw him clinch victory in style.

“It was similar to my first game (against Liang Wenbo), I got over the line pretty well,” said Trump. “The game started very scrappy, we were wary of each other. After five or six frames, the standard picked up and we both played good snooker.

“I did well to get a lead at the interval. I kept my head at 4-4 and was pleased with the last two frames. I wanted to carry on and keep playing. That’s a good feeling to have rather than be nervous and itching to get over the line.

“It will be another tough game against Kyren. He’s the favourite, the way he’s playing. I’ve been to the semis and lost so hopefully I can get through this time. We’ll both be eager to win so let’s see what happens. If I beat him then there’s no point getting to the final and losing.”

As for the six-legged intruders, Trump joked: “It could have been the same wasps making Ronnie dizzy yesterday!”

Murphy added: “I’m terrified of wasps! Who likes wasps? But Judd showed his class at the end. He’s an incredible scorer. I just couldn’t get ahead. I had a couple of chances to get on top and I didn’t take them. If Judd scores like he did in the second session of that match, he’ll usually win.”

The result means that John Higgins – who plays Ryan Day tonight – is the only former Masters champion left in the field.

Masters2017QFHigginsWinner

and the report on Worldsnooker

John Higgins reached the semi-finals of the Dafabet Masters for the first time since 2012 with a 6-1 victory over Ryan Day.

The Wizard of Wishaw has experienced highs and lows at this tournament over the past 24 years, winning it twice but also suffering 12 first round exits. He has looked  sharp so far this week at Alexandra Palace and now faces Mark Allen on Saturday evening for a place in the final. Victory would put Higgins into the final for the first time since 2006, when he beat Ronnie O’Sullivan 10-9.

Higgins has met Allen three times at the Masters and lost all three, though he’ll prefer to remember their 2009 World Championship semi-final clash which he won 17-13.

World number five Higgins won the opening frame tonight then Welshman Day levelled with a break of 83. From that point 42-year-old Higgins dominated, taking five frames in a row with runs of 61, 63, 65, 113 and 80.

“I played pretty solid tonight,” said Higgins, who won his 29th ranking title at the Indian Open earlier this season. “Ryan will be disappointed with the way he played. I wondered if he had put a new tip on because he seemed to be struggling with side. I just said to myself to try to keep things tight and not take anything crazy, and to make him try to force the game. To win 6-1 is a brilliant result for me.

“Mark Allen and I have always had really good games here and he has come out on top. I’m sure tomorrow will be a packed house, Mark will raise his game and I’ll have to raise mine. It should be a great game. I have every respect for him and rate him highly. Over the years he has had to contend with the likes of Selby, Robertson, Ding and Trump, never mind Ronnie and myself. So it’s difficult, but he’ll fancy it now he has beaten the favourite in O’Sullivan. He won’t fear anyone else.

“Mark hasn’t been in many semis at the big BBC events but neither have I lately. I might be feeling the nerves a bit but I’ll try to block that out. I feel good about my game.”

We have two semi finals today

Judd Trump will face Kyren Wilson and this will be a very interesting one. In my view, Kyren is tactically the best player and I wouldn’t be surprised if he managed to break Judd’s fluency and win in a rather broken play type of game.

John Higgins is now seen as the favourite to take the title, but my guess is that Mark Allen will have something to say about that. Being the underdog might suit him. He’s very aggressive, and certainly hungry as well. I believe he can win this.

At the Palace … day 5

Day 5 in Ally Pally was a very strange one, and not a happy one for Ronnie fans or “Willo” fans, nevermind for fans of both like me. As I wrote on twitter, at least the crumble I cooked was great!

Anyway, here is what happened …

Masters2017QFAllenWinner

Mark Allen played extremely well in beating Ronnie by 6-1. Many didn’t take Ronnie seriously when he said that he wasn’t feeling well after his last 16 demolition of Marco Fu, but it was clear for all to see yesterday that he wasn’t quite right. After the first frame that Ronnie won, Allen pretty much kept him in his chair, and when he came to the table Ronnie was unable to build anything telling. He keeps saying that he doesn’t care but, to me, the aftermath of the match tell a different story. Defeat DID hurt.

You can read all about it here 

Masters2017QFWilsonWinner

If anything Mark Willams defeat at the hands of Kyren Wilson was even more unexpected. “Willo” didn’t suggest that he had any health issues, and he beat Mark Selby, the World Champion and World n°1 in the last 16. Yet, against Kyren Wilson he struggled badly and missed some apparently very easy balls in about every frame. He had loads of occasions. Kyren was the better player, tactically strong, but not at his best either. It wasn’t a high scoring match: at 4-0 to Wilson the highest break of the match was a mere 44.

Here is the report on Worldsnooker

Kyren Wilson had never won a match at the Dafabet Masters before this week, but now he’s into the semi-finals at Alexandra Palace thanks to a 6-1 thumping of Mark Williams.

Warrior Wilson lost to Ding Junhui on his debut last year but has risen to the occasion on his return to London, beating Barry Hawkins and now two-time World Champion Williams. Kettering’s 26-year-old Wilson will now face Shaun Murphy or Judd Trump on Saturday afternoon for a place in the final. World number 14 Wilson is already guaranteed a £50,000 pay day.

Tonight’s contest was the first of the tournament not to include a century break, but Wilson showed his match-play and tactical strength as he outplayed his far more experienced opponent. His top break before the interval was just 44 yet he took all four frames.

Wilson extended his lead with a run of 63 in frame five, then Welshman Williams took the next in three scoring visits to close to 5-1. But there would be no fight-back as Wilson sealed victory in frame seven with a 76.

“I’m very pleased to get through, ” said Wilson, whose only pro title to date was the 2015 Shanghai Masters when he beat Trump in the final. “The balls went awkward in a lot of frames but I didn’t miss many balls. I’ve got different attributes to my game, I can score heavily when I need to and then go tactical when I need to. I made really good clearances to go 4-0 and 5-0 up which were very important.

“I was surprised at Mark’s performance but it is a hard venue to play in, in front of such a big crowd. The balls don’t always go nice for you. Mark struggled to find momentum and put his stamp on the match. I’ve got another game to improve on my performance. It will be another tough match against either Shaun or Judd, they are both very attacking and aggressive.

“I believed from the start that I could win this. I have put in a lot of good performances this season, getting to a couple of finals and scoring heavily. I feel I am improving.”

Williams said: “I was very poor. I wasn’t expecting to play like that, it’s probably the worst I have played this season. I wasn’t really in the match. I lost 6-1 but Kyren didn’t play that well either. At 5-0 I just wanted him to clear up. I knew I was out and I just didn’t want to be there. I still tried my best but there was just nothing there.”

So there you have it … That I got my predictions wrong is the mother of all understatements. And, actually, I wish it continues today at least regarding one of the matches.

Masters 2018 – Mark Allen ends Ronnie’s defense

Mark Allen beat Ronnie by 6-1 this afternoon and it was a totally deserved victory. Ronnie won the first frame, but after that he was completely outplayed as Mark won most frames in one visit. The stats speak for themselves:

Masters2017QFAllenEOSStats

The longer Ronnie was kept cold in his seat, the more he struggled, as you would expect and the fact that he was a bit under the weather didn’t help. But Mark Allen deserves every credit for the way he played and won today. Good luck to him in the rest of the tournament.

Masters2017QFAllenWinner.jpg

Here is the report on BBC website

Defending champion Ronnie O’Sullivan was eliminated from the 2018 Masters with a 6-1 quarter-final loss to Northern Ireland’s Mark Allen.

O’Sullivan, 42, took the opening frame with a break of 75 but Allen made breaks of 65, 115 and 85 to hold a 3-1 lead at the mid-session interval.

Allen made a score of 81 in the fifth, before taking the next two frames to seal his victory at Alexandra Palace.

He will play either John Higgins or Ryan Day in Saturday’s semi-final.

“Ronnie is the benchmark in this game and I’m very happy,” said the 31-year-old. “I scored very well up to 4-1 and kind of fell over the line. Against Ronnie I play more aggressive as you get less chances.

“I’m not getting carried away, it is one match and there are two very tough ones ahead of me if I’m going to win. I came here to win the tournament and if I go home without the trophy then I’m very disappointed.

“I will get so much confidence from that. He missed a few because I put him under pressure. I haven’t won a tournament in nearly two years and I’m looking to put that right. If I don’t win one of these big tournaments I will be very disappointed.”

Despite thrashing Marco Fu 6-0 in the opening round on Tuesday, O’Sullivan claimed he had not been well during that match saying he felt “very dizzy” and had “double vision”.

He looked to be struggling again during his match with world number eight Allen, who reached the Masters semi-finals for the third time in his career.

In the seventh frame, O’Sullivan held a 35-1 lead but Allen fought back to take the frame and move into the final four.

“I’m struggling, I don’t know what it is, a virus or something and I was having dizzy spells,” said O’Sullivan.

“It was a tough match for me. I can just rest up and get ready for my next event. Mark deserved his win, I didn’t give him much to make him struggle. You have to give people credit and he had a fantastic performance.

“I’m glad it is over. I don’t make excuses and I had to show up, if I was a footballer I would probably have missed this game but it is an individual sport so you have to turn up.

“It is not much fun when you go out there and am not feeling great. I was feeling 60% and was hoping Mark would make some mistakes. I didn’t feel good enough physically to go on and win the tournament anyway.”

The crowd was massively supporting Ronnie, shouting “Go Ronnie” whenever he came to the table. They certainly meant to encourage him but I wonder if, when a player is really struggling like Ronnie was today, it doesn’t make things even worse. Allen himself has been there before when he didn’t perform in Northern Ireland and he spoke about how difficult it was for him then to face the fans expectations and being unable to fulfil them.

Here are some images, thanks to Tai Chengzhe

and the match

Here is the report on Worldsnooker

Ronnie O’Sullivan lost a match at the Dafabet Masters for the first time since 2015 as he suffered a 6-1 reverse against an inspired Mark Allen.

O’Sullivan had been seeking an eighth Masters title and third in a row, having lifted the trophy in 2016 and 2017. He looked at the top of his game in a 6-0 first round thrashing of Marco Fu, and in the mood to keep his golden spell going having won three tournaments since October.

But Allen wrecked the Rocket’s hopes with one of his best performances in recent years, making a century and three more breaks over 50 to record his first win over O’Sullivan since the 2011 Masters.

Northern Ireland’s Allen goes through to a semi-final meeting with John Higgins or Ryan Day at Alexandra Palace on Saturday evening. He’ll be aiming to reach his first Masters final and only Triple Crown final other than the 2011 UK Championship when he lost to Judd Trump.

O’Sullivan started well with a break of 75 to take the opening frame but he scored just one point in the next three as Allen fired runs of 65, 115 and 85 to take control. World number two O’Sullivan had a scoring chance early in frame five but made just 16 and Allen’s 81 put him 4-1 ahead.

Three-time ranking event winner Allen dominated the sixth to extend his advantage. In the seventh he led 48-35 when he missed the last red to a centre pocket. But it mattered little as O’Sullivan’s attempted long pot missed by several inches, leaving world number eight Allen to add 24 points and clinch victory.

“I played pretty well to go 5-1 up, my safety was good, my long potting was good,” said Allen. “You can’t go out there and be scared of Ronnie. I play more aggressive against him, I can’t be bullied by him. I wanted to stamp my authority early in the match. Even when I’ve lost to him in the past, I went out and was positive against him.

“I felt like he was definitely feeling the pressure, he is human. His reception for his break-off at 5-1 down was ridiculous! He’s got the biggest fan base in the game. It was an extremely tough match but I was up for it. It’s always an occasion playing Ronnie.

“I came here to win the tournament, I’m only half way there. If I play as well as the first two matches then I’ve got a great chance. I’ve got the game to win one of these Triple Crown events. I am confident I’m going to win one before the end of my career.”

O’Sullivan, who has been suffering from illness and double vision, said: “He deserved his win, good luck to Mark for the rest of the tournament. It was a tough match for me. I can rest up now and get ready for my next event.

“It’s not much fun when you’re out there but you’re not physically feeling great. I was struggling against Marco, but it was one of those days where everything went in. I gave it a go today but it wasn’t good enough. It’s better that Mark won as he’ll give the next guy I better game than I would have done.”

There is also this in the press

Ronnie O’Sullivan wants to QUIT snooker after Masters defeat

RONNIE O’SULLIVAN wants OUT of snooker and makes a second claim that he could miss this year’s World Championship after crashing out in the quarter-finals of the Masters.

O’Sullivan took the first frame against Mark Allen who then hit back with a 65 break to level proceedings.

The Northern Irishman then potted his way to claim another five frames, stunning Alexandra Palace with a 6-1 victory.

Before the Masters, the Rocket revealed that scheduling of his television series ‘Hustle’ could force him to pull out of the World Championship – snooker’s biggest prize.

And after his defeat to Allen, he told reporters that people should take his claims more seriously and hinted that his exit from the sport is near.

“I know people didn’t really take me seriously but I probably will miss this year’s World Championship,” O’Sullivan said.

“I come back to snooker for different reasons. It’s just a bit of time-passer for me.

“I’ve already explained before I want to try and get out of snooker as quickly as I can.

“I still play because I still have some snooker fans that love to watch me play and I’ll still play in some tournaments.

“But as far as I’m concerned, it’s probably better I do a month in Australia for Hustle while the World Championship is on because I would find it difficult at home watching and not being part of it.

“But if go to Australia for four weeks and chill out, because for me as a person, I just play to kill a bit of time whereas a lot of the lads, all they have is snooker in life.

“17 days in Sheffield isn’t the greatest of things is it?”

and from the same source

“I wouldn’t want to be an employee of Barry Hearn, he likes to work you to the bone but I’m not built like that,” O’Sullivan said.

“You aren’t going to put thousands of miles on my clock. I like a bit of quality in life, I like to enjoy myself.

“I don’t enjoy the circuit and I don’t think it’s going to change any time soon.

“I think it’s better if I just dip in and out, and try and do as much stuff away from snooker as possible.”

He added: “I don’t like the politics that’s involved. I don’t like the structure of the game that’s involved – it’s weighted towards all the ‘numpties’.

“Snooker’s great if you’re coming from nothing, there’s a lot of tournaments and a lot of opportunities but for some of the top guys I’m sure they find it quite difficult.

“It’s not going to change so unless they [adjust] my terms and conditions, I’d rather offer my services elsewhere and do other stuff.

“I’m fortunate enough to not need the money so it’s just about being valued a bit.

“If they all sack me and throw me under the bus, they can do that – I don’t really care! I follow my heart and I do what feels right to me.”

Other than the fact that Ronnie is clearly still tired – I’m not sure that the Xmas break was really long enough to restore his energy and motivation after the crazy three months he had before it – and isn’t well today, what this article tells me is that the defeat did hurt him badly despite his claims that he doesn’t care. We shouldn’t forget that those interviews happen minutes after a heavy defeat. John Higgins said similar things after his UK early defeat, that this was the beginning of the end for him, but has since bounced back. That said, it is true that a lot of people didn’t take Ronnie’s claims about missing the WC seriously but I’m not one of them. Only time will tell. For now, I just wish him well.

He was bit more positive in the ES studio though…

And the Masters continues…

At the Palace … day 4

Yesterday delivered two interesting matches in Ally PAlly, both of which I predicted the correct winner but got the way they went completely wrong.

Shaun Murphy beat Ali Carter by 6-4

Masters2017L16MurphyWinner

My prediction was that it would be one-sided, whoever won, but fancied Murphy to do the job rather than Carter. Why? Because Murphy’s game is uncompromising attack. When they go in, he’s extremely difficult to stop, as we saw during the Champion of Champions, and Carter has a bit of a habit to go into a sulk when things don’t go his way. When they don’t go in however, Murphy is very vulnerable: a miss is likely to leave an open table to his opponent and Carter is an excellent all-rounder and break-builder and would definitely take advantage. Murphy being the in-form player coming here, I expected scenario nr one. And before the MSI, it looked like I was right. Murphy raced to a 4-0 lead in no time. But Carter didn’t go into a sulk, which is a very positive thing, and came back fighting. At 5-4, everything was definitely possible. But Murphy stayed positive, stuck to the attack and took the 12th frame nicely to win.

Here is the report on Worldsnooker

Shaun Murphy came through a tough battle against Ali Carter at the Dafabet Masters, winning 6-4 to set up a quarter-final clash with Judd Trump.

Murphy saw an early 4-0 advantage reduced to a slender one frame lead at 5-4, but he made an excellent break in frame ten to secure victory. The Magician is through to the last eight of this tournament for the ninth time and he will meet Trump on Friday afternoon at Alexandra Palace.

World number six Murphy has had a fine season so far, reaching four finals and winning the Champion of Champions. Three more wins this week would give him his second Masters crown having lifted the trophy in 2015.

Carter led by 29 points with just the colours left in the opening frame but failed to escape from a tough snooker on the yellow, allowing Murphy to clear and go 1-0 up. Nottingham-based Murphy got the better of a scrappy second frame then fired breaks of 119 and 87 to go 4-0 ahead.

World number 13 Carter got going with a 99 in frame five then then made a 110 in the sixth. That was the 19th century of the tournament, well on course to break the record of 31 set in 2009.

Murphy replied with a 93 in the seventh to lead 5-2. Both players had chances in the next but it was Carter who took it with a run of 50. In frame nine, Murphy looked on course for victory until he broke down on 36, and Carter punished him with a 93 clearance. But 2005 World Champion Murphy eventually took his chance, with a 76 in the tenth.

“I was very pleased with how I finished the match,” said Murphy. “The score at the interval was flattering, I shouldn’t have won all four of those frames. After the interval, Ali played some really good stuff.

“In the end, it was another Murphy match that should’ve been 6-2 or 6-3 and it was a bit more stressful than that, but I’m happy in the end. I was getting a bit nervous, I was so desperate to win. I was just trying so hard.

“The last thing you want to do is go home and sit on the couch. It was nerve-wracking but enjoyable. I love being out there playing and the crowd was so good, it was a great atmosphere.”

Looking ahead to his next match, Murphy added: “There could be fireworks. Judd can be a phenomenal snooker player, his break-building is only second to Ronnie’s. I’ve got my work cut out. I’ll go out there to play how I play and hopefully, I’ll get to six before he does.”

Carter said: “Shaun’s normally very one dimensional but he completely changed his game for today’s match because he knew I’d probably have the upper hand on his match game. The long pots he went for, he certainly got.

“I had too much to do at 4-0 down but it’s tiny margins. The first frame I lost he needed a snooker and if I’d won that frame then I would be 5-4 up not 5-4 down. All things considered, I’m glad I made a match of it. I missed one or two, but Shaun played really well so all credit to him.”

In the evening John Higgins beat Anthony McGill by 6-4

Masters2017L16HigginsWinner

Again it didn’t develop the way I expected. I their two previous matches this season, Anthony had been beaten soundly and never looked like he could possibly win. The way I perceived it was that he was intimidated and in awe of John Higgins. With the raucous atmosphere at Alexandra Palace, I feared it would be even worse. But, no, Anthony really seemed to love it. It was a very tactical match and although he trailed 2-0 at a point, he never looked like being totally outplayed like he had been in previous matches. From 2-0 down he battled back so well that he ended up 4-2 up at a point. It could have been 5-2, Anthony was in front in frame 7, and if it had been, I believe that we would have a different winner, But he allowed John Higgins to come back in that frame, and as it so often happens with Higgins, if you don’t kill him off when you have the chance, he takes the opportunity and kills you …

Here is the report on Worldsnooker

John Higgins came from 4-2 down to beat Anthony McGill 6-4 at the Dafabet Masters and avoid a 13th first round exit at snooker’s biggest invitation event.

Now playing in the tournament for the 24th consecutive time, Higgins has a mixed record, having lifted the trophy twice but lost his opening tie 12 times. And he looked in danger of another early exit when he lost four frames in a row against fellow Glaswegian McGill.

But world number five Higgins weathered the storm and he goes through to a last eight clash with Ryan Day on Friday evening. Victory would put 42-year-old Higgins into the semi-finals for the first time since 2012.

Wishaw’s Higgins took the opening frame on the colours then made a break of 89 to lead 2-0. He had chances in the third frame but missed a tricky pink when leading 58-42 with one red left, allowing Masters debutant McGill to clear.

That gave McGill the momentum and he fired runs of 122, 61 and 76 to lead 4-2. Higgins won frame seven with a 67 then in the eighth he potted 11 reds and ten blacks as he chased a 147, only to miss the 11th black on 81.

A break of 65 saw four-time World Champion Higgins regain the lead at 5-4. McGill had first chance in frame ten and made 41 before failing on a tough red to a top corner. Higgins replied with 50 then ran out of position on the last red, but after a brief safety tussle he knocked in a long pot on the red and added the points he needed.

“I’m delighted because when I was 4-2 behind Anthony was dominating,” said Higgins, whose best moment so far this season came when he won the Indian Open in September. “I knew at that stage I needed to hit the ball with more authority because I wasn’t getting through the white at all.

“I was beginning to lose my rag at 3-2, I played a red to the middle and nearly miscued. I potted the red but nearly went in-off. I knew then that I just wasn’t hitting the ball well. Somehow I managed to turn it around.

“I fancied the 147 in the eighth frame because there were no nerves and the balls were all there. I think I got a kick on the black.”

Quarter-final line-up:

Ronnie O’Sullivan v Mark Allen (Thursday 1pm)
John Higgins v Ryan Day (Friday 7pm)
Judd Trump v Shaun Murphy (Friday 1pm)
Kyren Wilson v Mark Williams(Thursday 7pm)

So, today, we have the first two QF matches…

Let’s do a bit of predictions, for what it’s worth

Ronnie O’Sullivan v Mark Allen (Thursday 1pm)

This should be an entertaining match between two skilled and attacking players, who appreciate each other. Ronnie has vowed to entertain the crowd … If both play the way they did in the last 16, Ronnie should win relatively comfortably, because, quite honestly, Allen wasn’t at his best against Brecel: it was Brecel who was truly awful. But of course, this is another day and another match. Anyway, I expect a 6-3 or 6-4 win for Ronnie.
John Higgins v Ryan Day (Friday 7pm)

Ryan Day has impressed me. Winning his first ranking title earlier this season seems to have done his self-belief a lot of good. The way he came back against Ding was testimony of this new state of mind. Does he have enough to do the same against John Higgins? Maybe. I’m really not sure. John Higgins played very well yesterday evening in spells, but, when put under pressure, the signs of vulnerability where clear for all to see.  This will be interesting to watch. I still expect Higgins to win, but I will route for Day!
Judd Trump v Shaun Murphy (Friday 1pm)

I definitely favour Shaun Murphy in this one. Despite the win over Liang Wenbo, Judd hasn’t convinced me. On paper, he certainly has a decent season, and had a decent 2017 campaign. But there were those defeats from well in front against players he should have beaten hands down… Shaun will stick to his game plan: attack. I think he will put Judd under a lot of pressure, too much pressure.
Kyren Wilson v Mark Williams(Thursday 7pm)

Kyren Wilson will have to play better than he did against Barry Hawkins to beat “Willo”, Mark Selby’s conqueror. Mark Williams is back, and he knows that he can compete for titles again, he’s won two already this season. He’s a very, very tough match player. I think he will have too much for Kyren. I expect an entertaining match and one Kyren could learn a lot from, win or lose.

 

At the Palace … day 3

It was a very bitter-sweet day at Alexandra Palace yesterday, far more bitter than sweet actually.

It started with the very sad news that Jethro Salmon, one of the fitters, had died. Jethro was only 25 and very much appreciated by all. Here is Worldsnooker statement:

All at World Snooker are greatly saddened to hear the news that Jethro Salmon, a table fitter for World Snooker Services, has passed away at the age of 25.

Jethro was an excellent and valued table fitter as well as a very popular character backstage on the circuit and will be missed by everyone who knew him. Our sincere condolences go to Jethro’s family.

A minute’s silence was held in the arena at Alexandra Palace before the start of the match between Ronnie O’Sullivan and Marco Fu.

After the match, O’Sullivan said: “It’s the most horrendous thing, to lose someone at the age of 25 who has been on the circuit with us. Before the match there was a feeling that it is a really horrible day. My heart goes out to his family, we’re with them all the way. The snooker circuit is one big family and we’ve lost a member.

“I’m not a philosophical person but sometimes you have to realise what is important, and things like snooker, how many Masters I have won, how many Worlds I have won – it really doesn’t matter. What’s most important is that you live life to the maximum because you don’t know what is around the corner.

This is terrible news, and my thoughts are with Jethro’s family and friends, and with his colleagues who must be terribly saddened and shocked but will still, I’m sure, do their job to the best of their ability.

There was a minute of silence before the introduction of the players for the first match on the day, and the usually raucous London crowd showed their respect to the young man. Rob Walker admitted that this was the hardest intro he ever had to do.

Speaking to the press after his match, shared some words of comfort to Salmon’s family.

“It’s so sad you know, such a young guy – 25 years of age. It just goes to show everything I’ve done today… it really doesn’t matter.

“Every day you get you need to appreciate, and love, and enjoy.

“Someone’s been robbed of that, and their family, and we’re all devastated because it’s terrible.

“It shows just how insignificant we are in this game.

“I cant imagine what it’d be like to lose my child before i go. I couldn’t think of anything worse.”

Now onto the action

Masters2017L16RonnieWinner

Ronnie produced a masterclass in beating Marco Fu by 6-0, restricting him to only 35 points in the whole match, 17 of them resulting from fouls. You can read everything about that match here.

Masters2017L16KyrenWilsonWinner

Here is the report on Worldsnooker

Kyren Wilson earned his first Dafabet Masters win with a 6-4 victory over Barry Hawkins – helped by two huge slices of good fortune in the closing stages.

Wilson made his debut at Alexandra Palace last year and lost to Ding Junhui, but this time the 26-year-old was delighted to progress to the quarter-finals. He’ll face Mark Williams on Thursday evening (limited tickets still available – click here for details).

Talented Wilson won his first title at the 2015 Shanghai Masters and has since jumped to 14th in the world. Last week he admitted his frustration at taking more than two years to win his second piece of silverware and he’ll hope this could be the moment to end that drought.

Hawkins started strongly tonight with breaks of 131 and 120 in taking a 2-1 lead. Kettering’s Wilson hit back to take three of the next four frames, top scoring with 109 and 106, to lead 4-3. World number seven Hawkins, runner-up here two years ago, made an 85 to square the match.

In frame nine, Wilson led 38-5 when he went for a tough long red, missed it by several inches but fluked another red into a centre pocket. That set him up for a run of 29 to lead 5-4.

The tenth came down to a safety battle on the last red and fortune favoured Wilson again as he got out of a snooker when he trailed 49-26 and left his opponent trapped behind the green, with the red over a top corner. Hawkins couldn’t escape and Wilson seized the opportunity to finish the match.

“I was a lucky boy towards the end but I was pleased with the way I took the chance,” said Wilson. “I have had a few flukes against me this season and it is sickening. When you get a bit of luck you have to make it count.

“It was an enjoyable match which flowed well with a lot of big breaks. Barry started well and that kicked me into gear. I’m really pleased to get my first win here and excited for my next match. I came down to the venue yesterday and got used to the surroundings, which helped me prepare for tonight.

“Mark Williams has been playing well and he is a legend of the game but hopefully I can stop him on Thursday.”

This was actually a very good match, and it’s a shame that it was eventually decided by two massive flukes in the last two frames of the match. There was really nothing to separate the players until then. Of course Kyren still had to make the most of his pieces of luck and he duly did, but Barry looked aggrieved and that’s understandable. The match deserved a decider.

Tha Masters 2018 – Ronnie beats Marco Fu by 6-0 in the last 16

Masters2017L16RonnieWinnerMasters2017L16RonnieFuStats

Here is the report on BBC  

Masters2017L16RonnieFu-9

Ronnie O’Sullivan said he was suffering dizzy spells despite thrashing Marco Fu 6-0 with a sublime performance to ease into the quarter-finals of the Masters.

The 42-year-old, looking to extend his record number of Masters titles to eight, hit three century breaks.

Fu did not pot a ball in the opening four frames, with his only five points coming through a foul by his opponent.

O’Sullivan scored a total of 649 points to 35 for Fu in a match which had just an hour and 22 minutes of playing time.

“To be honest with you I’m really struggling. I’ve got a virus or something, and I feel very dizzy,” said O’Sullivan.

“I was just playing off instinct. I thought ‘don’t stop, don’t think, just pot balls’. I’ve been feeling like that the last five or six days.

“I think it’s maybe a lack of magnesium, that’s what my nutritionist told me. I’ve been eating well the last four months and maybe overdone the exercise and made myself a bit ill.”

Restricting their opponent to just 35 points in a best of 11, is a new record. The previous record was 39 … which was what Ronnie allowed Ricky Walden in the QF, here in Alexandra Palace in 2014. And a number of those 35 points were actually “scored” by Ronnie in fouls… Heaven knows what would have happened if he was fully fit!

Seriously, Ronnie was absolutely fantastic today and got a standing ovation when leaving the arena.

and here is the report on Worldsnooker:

Masters2017L16RonnieFu-11Ronnie O’Sullivan fired three centuries and four more breaks over 50 in a marvellous display as he thrashed Marco Fu 6-0 in the first round of the Dafabet Masters.

Fu scored 35 points in six frames and had a top break of just 8, though in truth there was little he could do against an opponent in imperious form. Runs of 120, 121, 50, 74, 112, 75 and 53 helped O’Sullivan seal victory in just 80 minutes in front of a spellbound sell-out crowd at Alexandra Palace.

The Rocket goes through to face Mark Allen in the quarter-finals on Thursday afternoon. Chigwell’s O’Sullivan is aiming for his third Masters title in a row and eighth of his career, having set a new record of seven crowns last year when he beat Joe Perry in the final.

Playing arguably the best snooker of his career at the age of 42, O’Sullivan has won three titles since October, at the English Open, Shanghai Masters and UK Championship. The last of those put him level with Stephen Hendry on 18 Triple Crown victories, another record he can surpass this week. If he maintains today’s form, O’Sullivan will be almost impossible to stop.

When I get going I’m pretty decent,” said O’Sullivan after his 68th Masters match, of which he has won 52. “The bigger the tournament, the more the big players rise to it. There’s Mark Selby, me and John Higgins who are comfortable with being the best player in the world. Everyone else has spells where they win, and then the pressure gets a bit much for them and they can’t consistently win the big events. Maybe they don’t relish a situation where they are favourites.

O’Sullivan also expressed his sadness about the death of Jethro Salmon, a young table fitter who passed away this week. He said: “It’s the most horrendous thing, to lose someone at the age of 25 who has been on the circuit with us. Before the match there was a feeling that it is a really horrible day. My heart goes out to his family, we’re with them all the way. The snooker circuit is one big family and we’ve lost a member.

“I’m not a philosophical person but sometimes you have to realise what is important, and things like snooker, how many Masters I have won, how many Worlds I have won – it really doesn’t matter. What’s most important is that you live life to the maximum because you don’t know what is around the corner.

Fu said: “I struggled a little bit today but if I was on my game then I still would have been beaten 6-0, Ronnie played really well. I’m not too disappointed about the result because of the way he was playing.

“He is probably unstoppable. He was hitting the ball very well, he was on form straight away. His level of play doesn’t surprise me anymore.”

Here are some more images thanks to Tai Chengzhe

 

Here is the match with the BBC interview afterwards

And after his match Ronnie apparently did some filming with Neal Foulds…

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Not sure bringing a dizzy guy at the top of the roof is such a bright idea, uh?

At the Palace … day 2

Two more predictions proved right yesterday as Ryan Day duly beat Ding Junhui, from 3-0 down, and Judd Trump survived a spirited fight back from Liang Wenbo.

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Report on Worldsnooker

Ryan Day’s first ever match at Alexandra Palace finished in jubilation as he came from 3-0 down to beat Ding Junhui 6-4 in the first round of the Dafabet Masters.

Day had not previously played in snooker’s biggest invitation event since 2010, two years before it moved to its current venue. He has climbed back into the top 16 this season, winning his first ranking title at the Riga Masters and reaching the semi-finals of the UK Championship.

And after a slow start the Welshman showed fine form today as he knocked out fourth seed Ding, who won this title in 2011. Day goes through to a quarter-final clash with John Higgins or Anthony McGill on Friday evening.

China’s Ding dominated the early stages and made breaks of 111 and 58 in taking the first three frames. Back came Day with 79, 125 and 105 as he recovered to 3-3. Frame seven came down to a safety battle on the last red, and Ding failed to escape from a snooker, which allowed his opponent to clear and take the lead.

In the eighth, Ding was on a break of 62 when he accidentally touched the blue when using the rest, trying to pot the third-last red. Day took advantage with a 41 clearance to lead 5-3. Ding pulled one back with a run of 100 but Day responded in kind with a 115, the fifth century of the match, to seal victory.

“At 3-0 I didn’t feel as though I had done a great deal wrong,” said 15th seed Day. “I needed to keep calm and be patient. To win the fourth frame in one visit and to get to the interval on a high was key.

“As long as you stay calm and don’t lose your focus then the match can turn quite quickly. It was a great atmosphere, it was a full house. It’s a great place to play snooker.

“It’s going be a tough game in the quarter-finals but I’m looking forward to it. You just play the table in front of you and hope that your form comes out. To play in a great arena like this with one table is what we practise for.”

Ding said: “Ryan played great, I missed a couple of pots and he came back like Superman. I got a few chances at 3-3 and 4-3 but little bits of luck went against me.”

Although there were five centuries in this match, the standard wasn’t that great. As Neil Robertson observed whilst commenting from the ES studio, there were loads of mistakes – quite elementary mistakes at their level – from both players during the fist minutes of nearly every frame. Ryan Day, who used to be vulnerable to pressure in the past, deserves every credit for the way he held himself together and patiently waited for his form to come out. But Ding fans must be very worried. In my opinion he really could do with someone like Steve Peters.

Masters2017L16TrumpWinner

Report on Worlsnooker

Judd Trump caught the eye with his performance and his outfit as he beat Liang Wenbo 6-4 to reach the quarter-finals of the Dafabet Masters.

Sporting a new striped Christian Dior shirt, Trump looked the part as he fired five breaks over 50 in an impressive win over China’s Liang. World number three Trump goes through to face Shaun Murphy or Ali Carter on Friday afternoon (tickets for that session still available, for details click here).

Now making his eighth Masters appearance, Trump has never reached the final and will hope for a deep run this week at Alexandra Palace.

He took the opening frame today with a 50 clearance. Liang potted ten reds with blacks in frame two and although his 147 hopes ended when he missed a tough 11th red, his run of 80 was enough to make it 1-1.

Bristol’s Trump then pulled away as breaks of 83, 72 and 58 helped him build a 5-1 lead. Liang threatened a fight-back as runs of 58, 139 – the new front runner for the £10,000 high break prize – and 116 saw him close to 5-4.

Liang had a scoring chance early in frame ten, but missed a risky pot on the green to a baulk corner, and Trump punished him with a match-winning 85.

“I thought Liang was negative early in the match, he was over-thinking everything,” said Trump, whose best moment so far this season came with victory at the European Masters in October. “After that he relaxed more and started playing well, he put me under a bit of pressure so I was pleased to take my chance to win 6-4. Every win in this event is a good result.”

As for the outfit, Trump joked: “It’s just a shirt, it doesn’t make me play any better!”

This was probably the best match of the last 16 so far. Judd’s shirt got a lot of stick on social media but, although I don’t really this one it myself, I appreciate every effort players make to break the monotony of the dress code outfit…, yes even Yan Bingtao’s red outfit. In the past players used to wear some quite original waistcoats, and even frills. Not always in the best of taste but at least they weren’t all dressed the same. More seriously though, some of the things Judd said in the ES studio at the end of the match are a bit strange and, to be honest, a bit worrying. Him claiming that he doesn’t like to play anyone, and that Liang “didn’t scare him this time“, sounds weird and  not a sign of the best state of mind or confidence. I believe that the weight of unfulfilled expectations – including his own – is dragging Judd down. Maybe he too could do with some “Peters” advice.