2023 World Grand Prix – Ronnie beats Barry Hawkins in Round One (L32)

Ronnie whitewashed Barry Hawkins yesterday evening at the Centaur in Cheltenham to keep his hopes to climb in the top 16 of the one year list alive.

Here are the scores:

And the report by WST:

Defending champion Ronnie O’Sullivan got his campaign underway with a 4-0 win over 2017 World Grand Prix winner Barry Hawkins.

The Rocket succumbed to a gut wrenching 6-5 loss against fellow Class of 92 member Williams in an epic Masters quarter-final last week. However, he looked unaffected in his emphatic win this evening.

Breaks of 100, 64, 52 and 65 were enough to see O’Sullivan over the line in just over an hour. Next up the seven-time World Champion faces Noppon Saengkham, who defeated Mark Selby 4-1 this afternoon.

World number one O’Sullivan is currently ranked in 21st position on the one-year list and needs a successful week to maintain his chances of progressing in the Duelbits Series. Only the top 16 will qualify for the Players Championship and the best eight will make the Tour Championship.

O’Sullivan said: “I’m just enjoying playing. I’m enjoying competing. I need to have a good run here and in the Welsh Open or my season is pretty much done, until the Six Red World Championship and Sheffield.

In fact, Ronnie is now provisionally 20th in the race to the Players Championship, but finds himself 12000 points behind Joe O’Connor who is 16th in that list, and that’s a lot. Ronnie has withdrawn from the German Masters, and didn’t enter the Shootout, so he really needs to to go deep in this one and the Welsh Open if he wants to play in the next event of the series.

Tonight Ronnie will face Noppon Saengkham, who played very well in beating Mark Selby by 4-1 on the opening day. Should Ronnie win, he would then play the winner of Ding Junhui v Mark Williams in the QFs. It’s not going to be easy…

Here are some more images shared by WST on social media:

And Ronnie’s century in frame one, shared by WST on their YouTube Channel:

Two more short videos were also shared by WST on Twitter:

Last balls of the match

Ronnie’s postmatch interview

2023 World Grand Prix – Day 1

Cheltenham is best known for its horse races, but this week it hosts a snooker race to the 2023 Players Championship. Yesterday was the first day of the tournament and it yielded one big surprise…

Here is the report by WST:

Lisowski Beats Close Friend Milkins

Jack Lisowski came from 3-1 down to edge a Gloucestershire derby with Robert Milkins 4-3 at the Cheltenham Racecourse in round one of the Duelbets World Grand Prix.

Lisowski, 31, and Milkins, 46, have known each other since the former was just eight years old and both have recently described the other as being like a brother. This evening’s match had added significance for them, competing in their home county.

The pair are at different junctures in their respective careers. While Milkins finally landed a maiden ranking title by winning last season’s Gibraltar Open, six-time ranking finalist Lisowski is still hunting his first piece of major professional silverware.

Lisowski came within two matches of a dream first title last week at the Masters. He scored his first ever match wins at Alexandra Palace, beating John Higgins and Hossein Vafaei to make the semi-finals. However, his event was ended after a 6-0 whitewash loss against Mark Williams.

It had looked as if Lisowski was set for an early exit this evening, when he found himself 3-1 down. Milkins missed a routine red in the fifth, leading 52-1 with an opportunity to wrap up the win. He was ruthlessly punished by Lisowski, who made a match saving break of 60 to steal and make it 3-2.

The following two frames saw Lisowski at his brilliant best, as he fired home runs of 102 and 86 to secure victory and book a last 16 meeting with Zhou Yuelong, who beat Thepchaiya Un-Nooh 4-3.

Lisowski said: “I’m very happy. We are in my home town, so at 3-1 down I was thinking about my friends and wanted to make a game of it. Luckily Rob missed with a chance to win. I cleared up and turned the match around. I would have been gutted to lose first round. Rob looked fantastic tonight and it took everything I had to beat him.

It was horrible at the end. I should feel great, but then I saw him. It is hard playing your friends. I was apologising and I’m sure he would have been the same beating me. You can never get used to it, but it’s snooker and it’s an individual sport. If I want to win the title, I have to beat my mates.”

Number one seed Mark Allen got his campaign underway with a 4-2 win over David Gilbert, to recover from a 6-0 whitewash loss at the hands of Barry Hawkins at last week’s Masters.

The Northern Irishman has been the standout player of the season so far, having claimed tournament wins at the Northern Ireland Open and the UK Championship. As a result he has a significant lead at the top of the one-year list, having accumulated £402,000 so far. Only the top 32 are here this week, with the best 16 progressing to the Duelbets Players Championship and the top eight making the Duelbets Tour Championship.

Allen top scored with a fine break of 133 in this evening’s victory and now plays either Joe O’Connor or Lyu Haotian in the last 16.

Nobody puts any more pressure on me than I do. That won’t change whether I’m number one seed or not. I just concentrate on my game and do the best I can,” said 36-year-old Allen.

The Tour Championship is one of my favourite events. If you get in that you’ve had a good season and then can compete against the top players over a long distance. That is a good warm up for Sheffield as well. These three events are brilliant, it is amazing what they have done. World Snooker and ITV have come together to put them on.”

Xiao Guodong scored the biggest shock win of the event so far with a 4-1 win over world number three Neil Robertson. Xiao’s biggest contribution in the tie was a break of 54 and he faces either Ryan Day or Ricky Walden in round two.

I do hate the constant use of the word shock but I certainly wasn’t expecting Xiao to beat Neil, never mind with that scoreline and just one break over 50, a modest 54. Neil has struggled with health issues recently of course and maybe he’s still not well and fit.

I watched the Allen v Gilbert match and, at the start, both players appeared to struggle badly with the table conditions. They got used to them though, and, after the first couple of frames, it was a good match.

The “All Asian players are fixers” brigade was at it again yesterday, pointing out at bookies odds to prove that there was no confidence in either Zhou or Theppy to actually try to win… well … the match went 4-3, as you would expect because those two are of comparable strength overall. Zhou made a century in the deciding frame and had breaks of 107, 104, 66, 60, 59 and 58. Obviously not trying to win then. Theppy is notoriously inconsistent and when his scoring power is bit off and mistakes creep in, he struggles. He had just one break over 50 yesterday, a 87, but still won three frames.

The 2023 World Grand Prix … before it starts.

The 2023 World Grand Prix starts tonight … without a title sponsor. Indeed, Cazoo is experiencing major financial difficulties and has withdrawn their sponsorship, for, at least, the three events that formed the “Cazoo Series”. This is bad news for WST as they will have to take the prize money from their own reserves, as well as for the bonus if that is maintained.

I still stand by my view that snooker needs to walk away from the betting industry sponsorship as that, like tobacco in the past, will inevitably be regulated. Betting addiction, especially amongst the young, is causing major issues. I have touched this subject a few times in the past.

More bad news may come WST’s way as Cazoo is/was also sponsoring the 2023 World Championship.

Ronnie needs to do well in this one if he wants to play in the Players Championship and the Tour Championship. He’s the defending champion, but not the number one seed as the seeding is determined by the “one year list”.

As a result, Ronnie finds himself in a very, very tough quarter. His first opponent will be Barry Hawkins, never easy to beat. Should he go through Mark Selby may be waiting. And if Ronnie reaches the QFs, he could face Mark Williams, Stuart Bingham or Ding. Given his form this season so far … that looks a daunting task! If Ronnie wants to be in the Players Championship, he probably needs to win two matches this week and do well in the coming Welsh Open also.

2023 Masters – Judd Trump is the Winner

Judd Trump defeated Mark Willians by 10-8 yesterday evening to win the 2023 Masters.

Congratulations Judd Trump!

Here is the report by WST

Elated Trump Wins Second Masters Title

Judd Trump joined the elite group of players to have won the Cazoo Masters on multiple occasions as he beat Mark Williams 10-8 in a tremendous final at Alexandra Palace.

Trump looked to be fading when he lost three frames in a row to trail 7-6, but he found an extra gear when he needed it and finished strongly in an enthralling contest, enjoyed by a capacity crowd of 2,000 in London. Having first won the title in 2019, he becomes the 11th player to capture the crown on more than one occasion. The 33-year-old takes the Paul Hunter Trophy and £250,000 top prize back to Bristol.

Most importantly for Trump, he has answered the critics who question his record in the biggest events. In the final reckoning, the all-time greats are defined by their record in the Triple Crown tournaments, and Trump had not won one since his Masters and World Championship double in 2019. He now moves to four career Triple Crown victories, one ahead of Terry Griffths and Shaun Murphy.

And Trump has proved he can win without relying on his biggest strengths of potting and heavy scoring; his key attribute this week has been fighting spirit. He came within a ball of losing to Ryan Day in the opening round but hit back from 5-3 down to win 6-5, then recovered a 5-4 deficit to beat Barry Hawkins, and came out on top tonight in a fierce battle against one of snooker’s toughest competitors.

At the age of 47 years and 300 days, Williams missed out on the chance to become the oldest ever winner of a Triple Crown title. The Welshman remains on seven Triple Crown victories and two Masters crowns, and has to settle for the runner-up prize of £100,000.

Trailing 5-3 after the first session, Williams quickly closed the gap tonight as he dominated the opening frame with a top break of 50. World number four Trump replied with a break of 66 for 6-4 but Williams gained momentum going into the interval with 80 and 52 to level at 6-6. He kept the streak going after the break, getting the better of a scrappy 13th frame to lead for the first time since 1-0.

Frame 14 was a 57-minute epic and was settled when Williams was trapped in a tough snooker on the green, missing it three times which handed Trump enough points to level at 7-7. Typically, world number seven Williams was unflustered and responded with a 107, his third century of the match. The Cwm cueman had a clear scoring chance in frame 16, but ran out of position when he led 30-24. Trump replied with 30 then laid a snooker on the yellow, and from the chance that followed he made it 8-8.

Both players had opportunities in the 17th and it came down to the last red. A loose safety from Williams gave Trump the chance of a mid-range pot, and he cleared to edge ahead. Williams had an early chance in the 18th but after a superb long red he went into the pack off the black and left nothing easier than another long red to a baulk corner. He missed his target, and could only watch as Trump finished with a 126, delighting the fans with showboating pots on the last pink and black.

“This is more special than winning the Masters in 2019, as it’s the first Triple Crown event I have won twice,” said Trump, who has now won 11 of 16 meetings against Williams. “Everyone has been writing me off, I have read a lot of stuff about my best days being behind me. So to win this by digging in and beating someone as good as Mark is incredible. I have a long time left, hopefully I can have the longevity of the likes of Mark, and keep winning these tournaments.

“There’s a big difference between winning and losing these finals in terms of your CV. When you get there you have to get over the line, because there are only three a season. Over a career you might only play in 45 or 50, so to win four already is a big achievement. This is a big win and it feels well overdue.

At 8-7 I missed a couple of chances and he just didn’t take the chance to go 9-7, which might have been game over. He played a very attacking game and maybe that came back to bite him in the last couple of frames. At 8-8, I went to the toilet and splashed water on my face, came back out and played the way I should be playing. I felt good at the end, I wasn’t nervous. I should have lost three of my four games this week, I was just able to battle through. I felt as if I was out of the tournament so many times.

Three-time World Champion Williams said: “It was a great game and a great occasion, the crowd was unbelievable. I played well and tried as hard as I could. I had a couple of chances to go 8-6 up, but not easy ones. I loved every minute of it, I just didn’t get over the line. A couple of shots here and there made the difference. In the last frame I went into the pack and if I had landed on a red it could have been 9-9. But he made a great century and that’s what he does.

Judd has won the event without playing that well, which shows how good he is. Even when he was clearing up in the last frame I was looking around and enjoying the moment because you never know how many times you will get here. Fingers crossed I’ll be back next year.

We had many one-sided matches in the Masters this year, but the final was a close and high quality affair. Again, the most important frame – in my view – didn’t feature a big break, it was the 57 minutes 14th frame that allowed Judd to come back to 7-7, after Mark had won the last three frames before that one. It was a formidable battle, a test of wits, a test of nerves and a test of patience. Both of them passed that test with flying colours. It was fascinating. Had Mark won that frame, I believe that he would have won the match, but it was Judd who prevailed.

The Judd Trump of old would never have lifted that trophy yesterday evening. After going from leading by 4-1 to trailing by 7-5, he would have started to go for outlandish shots, trying to force his way through victory and Mark would have taken advantage of the inevitable mistakes that come with that type of approach. There was none of that yesterday. Well done.

Day 7 at the 2023 Masters – Semi-Finals

The crowd was fantastic at Alexandra Palace – as it has been all week – and there was some very good snooker on show, but overall it was a disappointing day because both matches were almost totally one-sided.

In the afternoon, Mark Williams was as good as he has been all week – very, very good indeed – but Jack Lisowski didn’t present him with any sort of challenge. Was it pressure? Was it just a bad day in office? Was it, maybe, another bout of migraine? We will never know for sure. Anyway… it all ended in a whitewash.

Here is the report by WST:

Williams Reaches First Masters Final For 20 Years

Mark Williams reached the final of the Cazoo Masters for the first time since 2003, and moved within a match of becoming the oldest winner of a Triple Crown event, with a 6-0 battering of Jack Lisowski.

In the third match this week to end with a whitewash, Williams outplayed his younger opponent in the safety department and made a series of excellent breaks from unpromising positions which swung the tie in his favour. Lisowski lost heart as the afternoon progressed and his opponent was able to cruise into a fourth Masters final.

Williams lifted the trophy in 1998 – the famous respotted black final – and 2003 and has not been in the final since. Last year he came agonisingly close, but lost 6-5 to Neil Robertson who had needed snookers in the deciding frame. This time, Williams has the chance to battle for the Paul Hunter Trophy and £250,000 top prize against either Judd Trump or Stuart Bingham on Sunday.

Age 47 years and 300 days, he could become the oldest winner of a Triple Crown title. The Welshman will be playing in his 12th Triple Crown final and has won seven of his previous 11. The oldest Masters finalist since Ray Reardon in 1983, world number seven Williams is looking for his first title since winning the British Open in August 2021.

Williams got the better of a scrappy opening frame, then Lisowski had a chance to level but missed the penultimate red along the top cushion when he trailed 28-52. Cwm’s Williams took advantage for 2-0 then extended his lead with a run of 74.

World number 12 Lisowski, who had never won a match in this event before this week, looked set to pull one back until he lost position in frame four when he led 43-36. He later played a weak safety on the penultimate red and Williams punished him for 4-0, before making a 68 in the next to move to the brink of victory. Frame six came down to the colours and Lisowski had a chance to clear but lost position from green to brown. Williams got the better of a safety exchange and potted brown, blue and pink for victory.

I made a lot of good breaks in scrappy frames which were as good as the centuries I made against Ronnie the other day,” said Williams, who was watched today by wife Joanne and sons Kian, Connor and Joel. “Jack struggled with the pressure, and once you are 4-0 or 5-0 down you almost give up and can’t wait to get out. I like Jack, and at the UK Championship I told him to keep knocking on the door. Eventually it will open for him, he shouldn’t worry about today’s result.

Last year I had one foot in the final then lost, and people were saying it might be my last chance, but 12 months later I’m in the final. I’m surprised I have done that at the grand old age of 47. I don’t think I’m playing any better than last season, but last year I lost a lot of deciding frames, that’s the only difference. It would be great to win, 20 years after being in the final. I’ll give it my best shot and try to remember it, although I can’t remember where I put my car keys yesterday, let alone the final 20 years ago. I am determined to enjoy it no matter what the result is. The crowd are what makes this tournament, they make so much noise, the atmosphere is like nothing else.

Lisowski said: “It was one of those days, I couldn’t get anything going. Mark was fantastic and made it very difficult for me. Everything I tried went wrong, you get days like that. It was frustrating not to be able to overcome what was in front of me. Overall it has been a fantastic week and a step in the right direction. It wasn’t nerves or concentration that beat me today, I felt calm. I’m playing Rob Milkins in Cheltenham on Monday night at the World Grand Prix so there’s no time to be disappointed – onwards and upwards.

I know that snooker needs young players to go forward, but I hope that Willo will lift that trophy tonight, he’s definitely capable of winning this. It would be a great story, and something I feel he deserves. He’s a great, great player, a great ambassador for the game and a true character.

The evening match was even more disappointing as Stuart Bingham didn’t play anywhere near his best and Judd Trump picked up the pieces without playing at his best either.

This is the report by WST:

Trump: I’m Underdog In Final

Judd Trump remained on course to double his tally of Cazoo Masters titles as he battled to a 6-1 success against Stuart Bingham in the semi-finals, but insists he’ll be second favourite against Mark Williams.

Trump has been far from his best at Alexandra Palace this week but has shown his fighting spirit, coming from 5-3 down to beat Ryan Day, 5-4 down to knock out Barry Hawkins and then comfortably seeing off an out-of-sorts Bingham. The 33-year-old meets Williams in the final on Sunday with first to ten frames to collect the Paul Hunter Trophy and £250,000.

World number four Trump will be playing in his second Masters final, having beaten Ronnie O’Sullivan in 2019. It will be his eighth Triple Crown final and he has won three of the previous seven, with one World Championship and one UK Championship crown under his belt. The left-hander is seeking his first silverware since the Turkish Masters in March 2022.

“I’d say I was the underdog against Barry Hawkins, the same tonight and the same in the final,” said Trump. “I need to step up my game, the way I’m playing won’t work against Mark, he won’t play that badly. It’s for him to lose, the way he has played. I am just happy to be in the final because other players have been better than me the week but I have scraped through. I feel I can raise it on the biggest stage, I know it’s in there. I have good memories of beating Ronnie here in 2019, that was one of my best ever games.”

Bingham has scored more centuries (five) than any other player this week, but made too many errors tonight and managed just one break over 50. He trailed by 32 points in the opening frame when he missed the last red to a baulk corner, handing Trump the chance to go 1-0 ahead. The Bristol cueman doubled his lead with a run of 87 and he led 38-0 in frame three when he failed to clip a red into a centre pocket, allowing Bingham to clear with 93 for 2-1.

Frame four came down to a safety battle on the green, resolved when Bingham missed an attempted long pot and sent the cue ball in-off, setting Trump up to double his lead. The fifth lasted 45 minutes and ended on the last three balls, Trump converting an excellent mid-range pot on the blue and adding pink and black for 4-1.

Trump led 66-34 in frame six when he knocked in a cracking pot on the penultimate red, and added the green which proved enough to go four up with five to play. A run of 58 put him in charge of the seventh, and he later got the better of a safety exchange on the yellow and potted the balls he needed.

The scoreline was a bit flattering but I felt I was the stronger player at the start,” Trump added. “I’m just missing the odd ball here and there, my concentration is not quite there. Towards the end it was a bit nervy but I still felt comfortable, Stuart wasn’t playing well enough to get back into it. I was expecting him to play amazing but he didn’t turn up.

A lot of people expect me to do better in the Triple Crown events so it would be nice to be a double champion in this one. You have got to win the big ones, no one remembers the loser. It’s important when you get this far to find another gear in the final and take the trophy home. Some people think the Triple Crowns define your career. That doesn’t define it for me. But to be up there with the greats you need to be close to them in your record in these events. I have some catching up to do, but I have reached the World final and the Masters final in the space of the year without playing my best so that’s a tremendous effort.”

Bingham said: “Even at 5-1 down I fancied the job, but I needed a spark. A lot of frames went down to the colours or last red and I kept sticking him up. He was missing a few and getting away with it. But I had my chances so I can’t moan. I felt a bit nervous and tight in the hands at the start, I didn’t settle.

Stuart made a lot of mistake at crucial moments and that was what “defined” the match.

The fifth frame was very dramatic, and probably the most important of the match. It is a shame that there is no footage available either on WST or Eurosport YouTube channels. It ended in a very long and extremely tense battle over the colours, a battle that Stuart Bingham had several opportunities to win. He didn’t take his chances. Instead, he eventually made a bad mistake, giving Judd Trump an opportunity that he gratefully took. That made the score 4-1 in favour of Judd. Had it gone the other way, Stuart would have been only one frame behind and we might have seen an entirely different match. I must confess that I stopped watching after that frame. It was already well past midnight where I live and I knew that there was only going to be one winner from there.

Because Mark Williams is in the final today, the schedule of the World Grand Prix has been modified

World Grand Prix: Williams Tie Swapped To Tuesday

The World Grand Prix gets underway in Cheltenham on Monday and the opening-night tie between Mark Williams and Jamie Jones has now been moved to Tuesday afternoon.

Williams has reached the final of the Cazoo Masters in London, so his match in Cheltenham has been moved to Tuesday to give him time to travel and prepare. The tie between Neil Robertson and Xiao Guodong has been swapped into the Monday evening session. For the updated match schedule, click here.

2023 Welsh Open Qualifiers and other Snooker News

The 2023 Welsh Open Qualifiers were played in Barnsley earlier this week and you will find all the detailed results on snooker.org.

Here are some outcomes that attracted my attention:

  • Both Jimmy White and Ken Doherty booked their place in the main event draw. Jimmy whitewashed Craig Steadman and Ken beat Thepchaiya Un-nooh in a decider. Those two definitely deserve to be allowed to continue to play consireing what they brougth to the sport and how hard they still try.
  • The two young Belgians also qualified, both with 4-0 victories. Julien Leclercq beat Duane Jones and Ben Mertens bear Barry Pinches. Barry was full of praise for Ben on social media after the match: Ben, he said, is a very talented young player with impeccable manners around the table.
  • Of the 11 Chinese players involved, 7 booked their place in the main draw, including Ding, and of the 4 who lost, 2 lost to fellow citizens. That’s a very high success rate and anyone doubting that the biggest reservoir of young snooker talents is in China is in denial. And it’s only to be expected given how much China invests in snooker: it’s taught in schools, they have plenty of academies and a national tour big enough for players to make a living out of it.
  • There are always surprising results in qualifiers. Here are those that caught my eyes: Rod Lawler beat Jamie Jones, Mohamed Ibrahim from Pakistan beat Jimmy Robertson and Tom Ford lost to Aaron Hill on the “3 miss rule”. I have no doubts that if Tom was Chinese the usual “brigade” would be up in arms,

Ronnie confirmed that he definitely intends to play in the 2023 6-reds World Championship

The (or one of the) 2023 European Masters is planned to be played in Nuremberg, Germany, end August:

Day 6 at the 2023 Masters

Yesterday in Alexandra Palace brought two completely different matches.

The afternoon match saw Judd Trump get the better of Barry Hawkins in a deciding frame. Judd found something towards the end of the match but had been dire for most of it. Barry Hawkins was nowhere near the form who had shown in beating Mark Allen. If Allen watched him play yesterday he probably felt really aggrieved. Overall it was pretty awful.

Here is the report by WST:

Trump Finds Extra Gear To Beat Hawkins

Judd Trump came through a second consecutive 6-5 thriller, making superb breaks in the last two frames as he came from 5-4 down to beat Barry Hawkins in the quarter-finals of the Cazoo Masters.

Trump could be forgiven for wondering if he is destined for the title this week as he recovered a 5-3 deficit to win 6-5 in his opening match against Ryan Day, and rose to the occasion again when it mattered most today. It’s a measure of revenge for the Bristol player as he lost 6-5 to Hawkins in the semi-finals a year ago.

Flamboyant Trump was inspired by roar from the crowd as the players shook hands before the deciding frame. “That was one of the loudest cheers I have ever heard,” said the world number four, who will meet Shaun Murphy or Stuart Bingham on Saturday at 7pm. “It was my break and I could have got down a bit sooner, but I wanted to soak it all in and let them get as loud as possible, and enjoy it as much as I could. When that kind of thing happens it helps to relax me, it’s not often you get to experience that.

Trump is aiming to win the Masters for the second time having lifted the trophy in 2019, and is into the semi-finals for the sixth occasion. The 33-year-old is also chasing his first title since he won the Turkish Masters in March 2022.

In the opening frame, Trump got the better of a safety battle on the penultimate red and cleared the table to go 1-0 up. Hawkins responded with a break of 110 then got the better of frame three to lead 2-1, before Trump levelled with a run of 69. In the fifth, Hawkins led 44-5 when he missed the black off its spot, and Trump punished him with a run of 61 to edge ahead.

Hawkins missed frame-ball red at 61-6 in the sixth, but Trump’s hopes of snatching it ended when he missed a difficult thin cut on the black after potting the last red. World number 13 Hawkins compiled a break of 66 to lead 4-3, then Trump replied with a tremendous 143 total clearance, his highest ever break in the Masters and equalling the best of the week, set by Mark Williams then matched by Hossein Vafaei. In frame nine, Hawkins led 49-0 when he missed a straight-forward black, but got back in by fluking a red and added the points he needed to lead 5-4. Back came Trump with a 107 clearance to set up the decider.

Hawkins had first chance but potted just a red and yellow before missing an awkward red to a top corner. Trump needed only one opportunity, making 81 to reach his only semi-final this season other than the Cazoo Champion of Champions.

I felt in control at the end, as if I knew I was going to clear up,” added Trump. “I made some good breaks from 4-3 down. I had to hang in there at the start when I was struggling, but towards the end I felt that if I could get my hand on the table I was going to score heavily. It’s a nice feeling to win another close one. It gives me confidence to do that when my back was against the wall.”

Hawkins said: “I kept playing loose positional shots which was frustrating. The standard improved in the second half of the match and Judd made a good break in the last frame. I was stretching on the red I missed and concentrating on getting the right angle on the black. I had my chance. Judd’s still nowhere near as good as he can be, but he probably deserved to win today.”

The evening match was a “one man show” and a scoring fest by Stuart Bingham (report by WST):

Bingham Crushes Murphy To Reach Semis

Stuart Bingham moved within two wins of a second Cazoo Masters title as he stormed to an emphatic 6-0 victory over Shaun Murphy in the quarter-finals.

Match schedule / 2024 Tickets

The 2,000 strong crowd at Alexandra Palace may have expected a close contest between these two rivals, a repeat of the 2015 World Championship final, but it was Bingham at the table for most of the evening as he dominated the tie, making two centuries and two more breaks over 60. The match lasted just 92 minutes as Basildon’s Bingham marched into his fourth Masters semi-final.

At 7pm on Saturday he will face Judd Trump, the same player he beat 17-16 to reach the Crucible final eight years ago. This time the winner will go up against Mark Williams or Jack Lisowski  in Sunday’s final.

World number 14 Bingham, who beat Ali Carter here in the 2020 final, has been the most prolific scorer of the week so far having made five centuries. That’s some turnaround in form for the 46-year-old who struggled through the first half of the season, failing to reach a single quarter-final.

The opening frame came down to a safety tussle on the colours, and Ball-Run enjoyed a slice of good fortune with a fluke on the green which set him up for 1-0. But there was nothing lucky about his performance over the next three frames as breaks of 78, 128 and 107 stretched his lead to 4-0.

In frame five, Murphy trailed 26-30 when he missed a long red, and Bingham punished him to extend his advantage. And after gaining 24 points in fouls early in the sixth, Bingham added a run of 65 to seal the result.

I felt nervous just before we went out, but when I walked out – what an atmosphere it was,” said Bingham. “Once I sat in my chair I was able to focus. I got a bit lucky in the first frame which settled me down, and after that I went from strength to strength. Shaun missed a couple and I cleared up what he left me – it was an unbelievable performance.

This crowd is second to none – it’s an honour to play out there. I have been on both ends of it – I have been embarrassed and ashamed. But when you play like that it’s the best place ever.

If I play like this I’m sure I’ll give Judd a good match. I’m riding a wave and long may it continue. The way I’m playing I back myself, but Judd can turn it on when he needs to.

Murphy said: “It was an incredible performance from Stuart and I could do nothing about it. I had a half chance in the first and fifth frames, apart from that I felt very comfortable in the chair. My safety was good but he dropped in two great long pots in the second and third frames. If he plays like that he’ll win, he was absolutely phenomenal. My preparation for this match was very good but I was beaten by someone who played like a super hero.

I must admit that I didn’t see any of it as I watched young Ben Mertens beat Barry Pinches by 4-0 in the 2013 Welsh Open Qualifiers and chased scores – as did every other member of the snooker.org team – because the live scores in Barnsley were playing disappearing act every odd minute!