Welsh Open 2019 – Day 2 in Cardiff

Day 2 in Cardiff brought a lot of discussions, and a 147 but no real surprise result.

Here is the report on Worldsnooker:

Ronnie O’Sullivan said “all-out attack is sometimes the best form of defence” after a 4-2 win over Sanderson Lam in the first round of the ManBetX Welsh Open.

O’Sullivan delighted the Cardiff crowd with flashes of his brilliant best as he set up an intriguing last-64 clash with Chinese prodigy Yuan Sijun on Wednesday afternoon.

World number 105 Lam, ranked 102 places lower than his illustrious opponent, threatened an upset when he led 2-1, only for O’Sullivan to reel off three frames in a row with top breaks of 95 and 116. The second of those was his 992nd career century, and in fact the first would have given him one more ton had he given referee Brendan Moore time to replace the pink before potting the last red. The break would have moved to 101 but for the foul.

“I enjoyed it, it was a nice game to play in,” said O’Sullivan, who has lifted the Welsh Open trophy four times, most recently in 2016. “He’ll be disappointed because he had chances. Attacking is my style of play and it has got me this far over many years. You have to stick to what you know best. It might look reckless but I still fancy getting most of those shots.

“I’m certainly not looking any further than the next round. My next match is tough, against a young Chinese player who has been beating everyone, so it will be a good result if I can win that one.”

World number one Mark Selby was in superb form in a 4-2 win over Anthony McGill, knocking in breaks of 139, 75, 61 and 80.

“Overall I played well and won frames in one visit,” said Selby, who won this title back in 2008. “I played Anthony in the Championship League a few weeks ago. He said he had been struggling and he was changing his technique and lacking a bit of confidence. I said to him just to try to enjoy it and to go back his old ways because he’s a great player. Today he looked dangerous again. He’s a good lad and hopefully he kicks on.

“It is one of my goals to hold on to my world number one spot. Mark Williams, Ronnie O’Sullivan and Judd Trump are getting close so it’s up to me to try to perform better and get to the later stages of more tournaments. I’m playing really well in patches then putting in the odd poor performance and I can’t put my finger on why that is.”

Welshman Duane Jones, who got to his first ranking semi-final at the German Masters earlier this month, edged out Xiao Guodong 4-3 to set up a match with Judd Trump.

“This one means a lot because it’s the first time I’ve had all the family with me, and guys from the club I practise at came down,” said Jones. “That’s the most nervous I have ever felt playing a snooker match. When I play Judd I’m going to relax a little bit more and embrace it.”

Ding Junhui, who has to win the tournament to qualify for next month’s Players Championship (read more on that race here), started well with a 4-0 defeat of Chris Totten.

German Masters champion Kyren Wilson conceded just 36 points as he beat Andy Lee 4-0 with runs of 63, 88, 67 and 60.

“It’s a nice start to the week, if you can save energy hopefully it will put you in good stead for later on,” said Wilson, who has won three titles this season.

“When you’re playing well and you’re enjoying everything, it’s like a drug – that’s the best way to explain it. Snooker is an addictive game and you just want to keep on playing.”

Veteran Jimmy White, the oldest player in the field at 56, came from 2-1 down to beat Andrew Higginson 4-2. Stuart Bingham top scored with 90 in a 4-0 defeat of World Grand Prix finalist Ali Carter.

China’s Zhao Xintong top scored with 106 in a 4-1 win over Jackson Page, though promising Welsh amateur Page did make a 104 in the opening frame. Barry Hawkins beat Sunny Akani 4-0 with a top run of 91.

Mark Selby was in the studio discussing his match and form:

And Neil Robertson had a 147 in the late evening… 

Neil Robertson fired in the fourth maximum break of his career on day two of the ManBetX Welsh Open at the Motorpoint Arena in Cardiff.

The stunning 147 break came in the fourth frame of his last 128 clash with Northern Ireland’s Jordan Brown. The Australian followed that up with a break of 140 to secure a superb 4-1 victory.

The 2010 World Champion is now in line to pocket a potential £15,000 payout from the rolling 147 pot and an extra £2,000 for the high break prize. It is the 148th official maximum break on record.

Here it is …

And the review of that match with Neil

And all about Ronnie’s match is here

Welsh Open 2019 – Ronnie wins his last 128 match.

WelshOpen2019ROSL128Win

Ronnie beat Sanderson Lam by 4-2 to book his place in the last 64 in Cardiff.

Screenshot 2019-02-12 at 18.48.06

It was a rather strange match. I wonder if it was Ronnie playing out there, or if his Chimp had run loose, nicked his cue, locked him up and come to play on his behalf.

Ronnie’s long potting was poor, but in the balls he looked very sharp. The worrying part however is that he was going for crazy things, with total disregard for what could happen if he missed. And he played really quick too, his average shot time was 12.8 sec! Shaun Murphy though had another reading of the match: for him Ronnie was playing with total freedom, like in an exhibition, confident that he still would be able to win. Well, I’m not so sure.  Anyway, he did win, but if he plays that way against Yuan Sijun, I expect a very different outcome.

There was a strange incident in frame 4: Ronnie had just potted the pink to score 101; however, he then immediately played the next red, without waiting for Brendan Moore to re-spot the pink and announce the score. Therefore Ronnie’s break officially ended on 95, and Sanderson Lam got the 6 penalty points. Ronnie later teased Brendan about it.

Screenshot 2019-02-12 at 18.33.24Screenshot 2019-02-12 at 18.33.55

This is the report on Worldsnooker:

Ronnie O’Sullivan said “all-out attack is sometimes the best form of defence” after a 4-2 win over Sanderson Lam in the first round of the ManBetX Welsh Open.

O’Sullivan delighted the Cardiff crowd with flashes of his brilliant best as he set up an intriguing last-64 clash with Chinese prodigy Yuan Sijun on Wednesday afternoon.

World number 105 Lam, ranked 102 places lower than his illustrious opponent, threatened an upset when he led 2-1, only for O’Sullivan to reel off three frames in a row with top breaks of 95 and 116. The second of those was his 992nd career century, and in fact the first would have given him one more ton had he given referee Brendan Moore time to replace the pink before potting the last red. The break would have moved to 101 but for the foul.

“I enjoyed it, it was a nice game to play in,” said O’Sullivan, who has lifted the Welsh Open trophy four times, most recently in 2016. “He’ll be disappointed because he had chances. Attacking is my style of play and it has got me this far over many years. You have to stick to what you know best. It might look reckless but I still fancy getting most of those shots.

“I’m certainly not looking any further than the next round. My next match is tough, against a young Chinese player who has been beating everyone, so it will be a good result if I can win that one.”

….

 

Here are some nice images by Tai Chengzhe. Thank you Tai!

 

Coverage:

Match Previews:

Match Action:

Match Reviews:

Ronnie was also in the studio at the start of the evening.

In the preview of the Selby v McGill match both him and Jimmy White reflect on their wins, as well as on the century that never was.

 

 

The Welsh Open 2019 – Day 1 in Cardiff

This is the last of the Home Nations Series, and, except for the last 16 who are seeded, it’s an open draw. It always throws a few surprises in round one, and yesterday was no exception with Ryan Day, Stephen Maguire, Mark King,, Matthew Stevens and David Gilbert bowing out.

Mark Williams was made to work hard, only edging debutant Kishan Hirani in a decider. Both Michael White and Yan Bingtao suffered defeats and continue to struggle badly this season. Lukas Kleckers whitewashed Peter Ebdon which is a bit surprising too. Peter said at the start of this season that it could be his last as he’s struggling with physical issues that hinder his game. Even so, Lukas has struggled badly aswell and Peter is always hard to beat so this score was unexpected to me.

Following his win on Sunday night, Judd was given the choice to play today, instead of yesterday but declined. Cheltenham and Cardiff are not that distant from each other, and they are both close to Bristol, Judd’s home town as well.

Here is the report on Worldsnooker:

Big guns were firing on day one of the ManBetX Welsh Open in Cardiff, with Mark Williams, Judd Trump and John Higgins among the first round winners.

All results
Tickets

Less than 24 hours after winning the World Grand Prix in Cheltenham, Trump was back on the baize in the Welsh capital and kept his tremendous run of form going as he beat Harvey Chandler 4-0 with top breaks of 85 and 84.

“It was nice to get through so I can have a bit of time off before my next game,” said Trump, who has also won the Northern Ireland Open and the Masters this season. “I have come here to try to win the event so I want to prepare properly.

“There aren’t many players who win back to back events so I have to be realistic. It is draining mentally to be playing week in, week out, so I’m just going to try to enjoy this event and relax. It’s a good time to be playing snooker because there is a tournament every week. There are players who have won five ranking events in a season and that’s a goal I want to achieve within the next few years.

“My mentality at the moment is that I don’t want to drop a frame, so I’m trying my best to win every frame I play. I always enjoy coming to Cardiff because the fans here love their snooker and I always get fantastic support.”

Home favourite Williams was pushed all the way by fellow Welshman Kishan Hirani before coming through 4-3. Tour rookie Hirani made a 126 to lead 2-1 before World Champion Williams knocked in 66 and 80 to go 3-2 up. Hirani took frame six only for Williams to get the better of a scrappy decider.

“It was a tough game, he made a couple of good breaks and his safety had me in trouble,” said Williams, who was the last Welsh winner of this event back in 1999. “People were saying it was a foregone conclusion and I was going to win 4-0 or 4-1, but I know that’s a lot of rubbish. I knew it was going to be a difficult game and I could have lost.

“It would be good for the tournament if any Welshman had a run, it’s unbelievable how none of us have done any good in recent years. It could be because the home pressure gets to us.”

After a poor run of form in recent weeks, defending champion Higgins got a much-needed win on the board, beating Graeme Dott 4-0 with top breaks of 86, 65 and 51.

“Coming back to Cardiff I was trying to think of some good memories that I’ve had here, I’ve won it a few times,” said Higgins, who took the title for a record fifth time last year. “To win any game for me right now is good, my confidence isn’t at the highest. Graeme struggled a lot with the chances he had today, which was great for me.”

Higgins lies 16th on the one year ranking list and is not yet guaranteed a spot in next month’s Players Championship – read more about that here. “I’m right on the bubble,” he added. “I felt if I’d have lost that match then I would have had no chance to qualify for it.”

Shaun Murphy top scored with 102 in a 4-1 win over Adam Stefanow while Jak Jones came from 2-1 down to win a Welsh derby against Matthew Stevens 4-2.

Jack Lisowski recovered a 3-1 deficit to beat Niu Zhuang 4-3, firing runs of 87, 68 and 75 to take the last three frames in just 23 minutes. China’s Zhou Yuelong edged out Stephen Maguire 4-3.

Germany’s Lukas Kleckers top scored with 52 in a 4-0 defeat of Peter Ebdon while Switzerland’s Alexander Ursenbacher enjoyed an impressive 4-2 win over Yan Bingtao.

Veteran Ken Doherty scored a 4-1 victory over Sean O’Sullivan while Scottish Open champion Mark Allen finished with an 82 in a 4-2 win over Mark Joyce.

The first round action concludes on Tuesday.

Ronnie was in the studio for most of the day…

And here is the BBC Wales tournament preview as well

Ronnie  plays this afternoon against Sanderson Lam and it would really be a big surprise if he was beaten. Should he win however, he would meet Yan Sijun in the next round and THAT isn’t a gimme!

 

Infos about the coming events: race to Preston and China Open Qualifiers

Worldsnooker has yesterday published important information about the coming events.

This post is about the race to the Players Championship 2019 and the Coral Cup

The first event in the Coral Series finished on Sunday night with Judd Trump beating Ali Carter in the final of the Coral World Grand Prix in Cheltenham.

Who will make it to the Guild Hall?

And now there are just two qualifying events until the field is set for the Coral Players Championship at the Guild Hall in Preston, which runs from March 4 to 10. The first is this week’s ManBetX Welsh Open in Cardiff, then the last counting event is next week’s BetVictor Shoot Out in Watford.

Note that the Indian Open does not count towards Coral Players Championship qualification, though it does count towards the Coral Tour Championship.

Only the leading 16 players on the one-year ranking list will qualify for Preston. As it stands John Higgins is in 16th place with £101,000, though if he wins his opening match in Cardiff today he’ll boost his total to the tune of £2,500. In 17th place is Martin O’Donnell with £81,500, so Higgins has some daylight between himself and the chasing pack. However Higgins has not entered the Shoot Out, so if he suffers an early exit in Wales he could be in danger of not making Preston.

There is a £70,000 top prize up for grabs this week in Cardiff, so all players down to Thepchaiya Un-Nooh in 51st with £31,225 could have a chance of leaping into the top 16.

As it stands there are three players – Ali Carter, Joe Perry and Jimmy Robertson – who are inside the top 16 of the one-year list and outside the top 16 of the official two-year list.

Ding Junhui is 24th on the one-year list and £33,500 behind Higgins so he needs to win the Welsh Open to make it to Preston, as he has not entered the Shoot Out. Former World Champion Shaun Murphy is a further £9,000 behind, though he has two bites of the cherry as he is in the field for Watford.

What’s next after Preston?

The third and last event in the Coral Series is the Coral Tour Championship in Llandudno from March 19 to 24, with only the top eight on the list to earn a spot in North Wales, with the cut off point coming after the Gibraltar Open. David Gilbert currently lies eighth with £169,500 and a handy buffer of £36,500 over Stuart Bingham in ninth. As it stands there are two players – Gilbert and Neil Robertson – inside the top eight of the one-year list and outside the top eight of the two-year list.

Trump Towers

Trump’s victory in Cheltenham, his second ranking title of the season, saw him jump to second place on the one-year list with £274,500, behind leader Mark Allen who has £360,500. Carter earned £40,00 as runner-up and the Captain flies up to 11th with £112,500 and now looks likely to be among the line up at the Guild Hall. Xiao Guodong got to the semi-finals to earn £20,000 and he’s up to 18th with £76,600, hoping for another good run either in Cardiff or Watford to jump into the top 16.

In the official rankings, Trump moves above Higgins into fourth place while Carter is up to 18th and Xiao climbs to 21st. There are still seven counting events to go in the Race to the Crucible, with Carter and Xiao gaining ground on 16th-placed Ryan Day.

Coral Cup

The player earning the most money across the three Coral Series events will win the inaugural Coral Cup. Trump leads the way with £100,000 and he is now the only player who can win the potential £125,000 bonus available for landing all three trophies. If he goes on to win the Coral Players Championship and Coral Tour Championship he will have his total prize money round up from £375,000 to £500,000.

So Lewis was indeed right, the Indian Open will not count towards the Players Championship, which makes sense given the schedule.

And the China Open Qualifiers draw is also available

Many of snooker’s leading players will be at Chase Leisure Centre In Cannock next week for the China Open qualifiers.

Click here for the draw

Click here for the format

Running from February 18 to 20, it will be the first professional snooker event staged at the Staffordshire venue.

All players competing in Cannock need to win one match to make it through to the final stages in Beijing in April.

The China Open is the most lucrative event on the World Snooker Tour other than the World Championship, with a top prize of £225,000 and total prize money of £1 million.

Mark Selby won it last year, beating Barry Hawkins in the final.

No Ronnie which is no surprise.

Judd Trump wins the World Grand Prix 2019

Congratulations Judd Trump

Judd Trump WGP 2019 Winner

Here are the reports on Worldsnooker:

Afternoon session: Judd Trump 6-3 Ali Carter

Judd Trump needs just four more frames to lift the Coral World Grand Prix title and claim the £100,000 top prize in Cheltenham, leading Ali Carter 6-3 after the first session.

This would be the first time Trump has secured three titles in a season if he can get over the line tonight. Trump has already lifted silverware at the Northern Ireland Open and the Masters this term.

Victory for Carter this evening would thrust him into the top eight in this season’s one-year money list, which determines progression in the Coral Series. The top 16 players go on to Preston for the upcoming Players Championship with the best eight players contesting the climactic Tour Championship in Llandudno.

The first four frames this afternoon were keenly contested. After Trump had taken the opener, Carter produced a superb clearance of 42 to steal the second frame on the black. He then moved 2-1 ahead, before Trump levelled at the mid-session with a break of 113 to make it 2-2.

When play recommenced Trump took a stranglehold on proceedings. Further breaks of 63, 54, 88 and 132 helped the Ace in the Pack to establish a 6-3 advantage going into this evening.

Evening session: Judd Trump 10-6 Ali Carter

Judd Trump claimed his tenth ranking title with victory at the Coral World Grand Prix at Cheltenham Racecourse, defeating Ali Carter 10-6 in the final.

This evening’s win, which sees him pocket £100,000, undoubtedly elevates this season to Trump’s best ever on the World Snooker Tour. He has now amassed over £500,000 in prize money for the first time in a single term as well as picking up three major titles for the first time, having already won the Northern Ireland Open and last month’s Masters.

The Ace in the Pack now leads the one-year money list and is guaranteed of his progress to the Coral Players Championship and the Coral Tour Championship, where the top 16 and top eight players respectively will qualify.

Carter fell just short of picking up a fifth ranking title this evening. However, his £40,000 runner-up prize virtually ensures his progress to the upcoming Players Championship, having started the week in 17th place on the one-year list.

Trump stamped his authority on the tie this afternoon, in an engrossing opening session which saw him build a 6-3 advantage.

However, it was the Captain who came flying out of the blocks tonight. A superb break of 99 saw him take the opening frame to make it 6-4. They then traded frames before a dramatic moment prior to the interval. Carter pulled the 13th frame from the fire, stealing it on the black to reduce his deficit to 7-6.

The mid-session break worked in favour of Trump, who pulled away again when they returned. The Masters champion fired in contributions of 71, 78 and 54 to secure a 10-6 win and the title. Trump now leads the race for the Coral Cup, which will be awarded to the player who amasses the most money across all three of this season’s Coral Series events.

Trump said: “I’m over the moon to win my third big title in one season. I’m very happy with how I played in the final. Ali pushed me all of the way. His safety play was as good as I have faced for a while so I had to be at my best today.

“I think just sheer hard work and practice is paying off. Having my brother with me on tour has been a massive help. Just being able to chat with him and he is making me practice more than I ever have done before consistently. You don’t want to let up when you are winning. You just want to keep it going and win as many tournaments as possible.”

A disappointed Carter reflected on a match which he feels could have gone the other way on a different occasion.

“It was tough. I gave it my all and just came up short. At 7-6 I felt that if I had my chances I would have taken them. It is fine margins. I’m disappointed right now because I really fancied winning today,” said four-time ranking event winner Carter. “Everyone had written me off. I wasn’t interested in that. I said that I don’t care if I am the only one in the building, I fancy winning this match. At 7-6 I definitely fancied winning.”

Nothing really to add to that.

The World Grand Prix 2019 – Day 6 – SF

There was only one match yesterday, the second semi final between Judd Trump and Barry Hawkins. It was, eventually, Judd Trump who prevailed in a deciding frame. He will face Ali Carter over a possible 19 frames today.

Here is the report on Worldsnooker:

Judd Trump is through to the Coral World Grand Prix final after winning a hard fought battle with Barry Hawkins 6-5 in Cheltenham.

The Ace in the Pack will now face Ali Carter in tomorrow’s final where the winner will take home £100,000. Trump is aiming to capture a tenth ranking title, which would put him in joint ninth position in the all-time ranking event winner’s list alongside Jimmy White.

Trump, who has already been victorious this season at the Scottish Open and the Masters, is now one game away from winning three titles in a single campaign for the first time in his career. If he were to do so, then he will have amassed over £500,000 in prize money in a single season for the first time in his career.

Defeat for Hawkins denies him the chance to claim the trophy which he won two years ago, after beating Ryan Day in the 2017 final. This was Hawkins’ first appearance in the World Grand Prix since that victory, having not qualified to defend his title last year.

It was Hawkins who seized the early initiative this evening. A break of 92 in the second frame put him 2-0 ahead. Trump hit back with a break of 60 to cut his deficit in half. The Masters champion then claimed a scrappy final frame before the mid-session, where both players spurned chances, to level at 2-2.

They continued to trade frames when they returned, with Hawkins continuing the pattern of edging ahead and being pegged back. Eventually Trump forced a deciding frame with a break of 52, where a barnstorming run of 92 earned him a 6-5 victory. The Ace in the Pack punched the air with delight at reaching his 19th ranking event final.

Trump said: “It is always nice to win any sort of deciding frame. Especially in a tournament as big as this. I think it was just pure relief having been behind the whole match. I didn’t start well. The first four frames were very bad. I managed to just dig in and when I got my chance in the final frame I took it.

“It sometimes felt like I was never going to win it. It felt at times like it wasn’t meant to be. I really had to believe in myself and tell myself I was still in it even though I was behind for most of the match. I was really happy to get over the line.”

In a way, for me, the turning point of the match came as early as the third frame, when Barry Hawkins was in first again, split the pack beautifully and was extremely unlucky to be on nothing at all. With all reds scattered it was difficult to defend too and he left Judd Trump an opening. Judd took it well, fair play, but had Barry landed on a red and taken that frame, I believe it would have been a different match.

Judd this week has played very well in patches, but has been quite awful in patches as well. Ali Carter has played very well in the only match I had the opportunity to watch. He is the type of hard match player who has the game to frustrate Judd. So, it’s hard to call.

Meanwhile Ronnie is heading to Cardiff already today. This is what he posted on twitter and Instagram:

Cheers to the weekend. Heading to Cardiff on Sunday for the Welsh Open, really looking forward to it. Working with my friends for the week too so don’t forget to tune in. Anyone heading down for the week?

WelshOpen2019Cheers

Hahaha! I remember well how much he hated the place in 2015, the first time the Welsh Open was staged there!

The World Grand Prix 2019 – Day 5 – QF and SF

Day 5 in Cheltenham delivered a first finalist, Ali Carter and an interesting line-up for the second semi final,  with Barry Hawkins facing Judd Trump.

Here is the report on the afternoon session (Worldsnooker):

Masters champion Judd Trump produced an imperious display to sweep aside world number one Mark Selby 5-1 and reach the semi-finals of the Coral World Grand Prix.

The victory sees Trump through to the last four of a ranking event for the 31sttime in his career. The Ace in the Pack has now edged ahead of Selby in the head-to-head stakes, leading 6-5 having also beaten him on his way to winning the Masters last month.

Selby will have to wait a bit longer to end his run without claiming ranking silverware in the UK, which extends back to the 2017 World Championship. The three-time Crucible king faces a battle to keep a hold of his world number one spot, with both Mark Williams and Ronnie O’Sullivan currently projected to leapfrog him in the provisional end of season rankings.

Both Trump and Selby have already secured their progression to the next event in the Coral Series, the Players Championship. The top 16 players in the one-year money list will go on to compete at the iconic Guild Hall in Preston. The best eight will then gain a place at the Tour Championship in Llandudno. Trump currently sits in sixth position, with Selby in third.

Throughout this afternoon’s clash, Trump’s long potting proved to be a key weapon. The 29-year-old recorded a 100% conversion rate, making 7/7 from long range. That afforded him several opportunities to make breaks and he took full advantage.

Trump composed runs of 77 and 86 on his way to leading 3-1 at the mid-session interval. When the players returned Trump reeled off his required two frames in under 30 minutes, composing runs of 102 and 72 to secure the win.

“I felt good. Very confident and very relaxed. I took my practice game out there which is quite rare. It was just one of those days where everything went right,” said Trump. “I’ve learned a lot from Mark over the last few seasons. His safety, determination and never giving in. I’ve tried to take that into my game and that is really paying off.”

Trump’s opponent in the last four will be Barry Hawkins, who came through with a comfortable 5-2 defeat of last week’s German Masters winner Kyren Wilson.

Hawkins, who was a finalist at this season’s Shanghai Masters, produced a ruthless display of break building to surge to victory this afternoon. He composed breaks of 134, 64, 63 and 116 on his way to the win.

Trump and Hawkins will face each other for a place in the final over the best of 11 frames tomorrow evening.

Judd Trump played very well indeed, but wasn’t put under any pressure by Mark Selby whose long game simply wasn’t there. His long pot success was below 20% which means that he was not able to create opportunities for himself from distance. As a result social media was full of “Trump is the man to beat at the Crucible”, “He’s the real n°1” and similar. Sorry but that’s nonsense until he can play this way consistently, which he isn’t currently as his recent trouncing by Maguire in the German Masters proves, as do the rather unconvincing performances he had earlier this week against Stuart Carrington and Tom Ford. The Crucible of all places is a test of consistency.

Here is the report on the evening session (Worldsnnoker)

Ali Carter is through to the ninth ranking final of his career after a dominant display saw him thrash China’s Xiao Guodong 6-0 in their semi-final at the Coral World Grand Prix.

The Captain last graced a ranking event final at the 2017 German Masters, where he lost out in a hard fought battle with Anthony Hamilton. Two years on, Carter will be hoping to go one step further and secure his first silverware since the 2016 World Open, where he defeated Joe Perry to claim the title.

Carter is now guaranteed a pay cheque of £40,000 and could pocket the top prize of £100,000 if he is victorious in the final. Xiao leaves Cheltenham disappointed after an edgy performance in his fourth ranking semi-final. However, he heads to Cardiff for next week’s Welsh Open with the consolation of £20,000 for reaching the last four.

Carter started this evening’s clash at breakneck speed. After trailing in the early stages of the opening frame, Carter embarked on a run of 382 unanswered points to claim a clean sweep of frames before the mid-session. Breaks of 54, 99, 71 and 126 fired him into a 4-0 lead.

When the players returned a dramatic fifth frame ultimately put paid to Xiao’s chances. The Chinese cueman appeared to pot the final black to take the frame, only to go in off and take the frame to a re-spot with the scores tied at 59-59. Eventually Carter deposited a tough long range pot with the white glued to the top cushion to lead 5-0.

The Captain sealed victory in the following frame to set up a clash in the final with either Judd Trump or Barry Hawkins.

Carter said: “I’ve been 8-4 in front of Shaun Murphy in the semi-finals of the UK Championship. He beat me 9-8 and I was devastated. I’ve played the game too long to take liberties when I am in front. I have a lot of battle scars really. That is why sometimes it can be harder to get over the winning line. I am delighted to win today because that was a big match for me. It has been a while since I’ve been competing at the top level.

“It would be a little bit surreal to win on Sunday. I am in the final now. I have so much going on behind the scenes at the minute. To be in the final I feel a bit punch drunk. I will look forward to it.”

Ali Carter was very solid, and Xiao had a real nightmare. That sums up the match. Xiao didn’t play well and, to top it off, everything conspired against him on the night.