The Shoot Out mixed bag

This was posted by WST on Thursday

Leading female players Reanne Evans and Nutcharut Wongharuthai are among the eight wild cards to be awarded places at the BetVictor Shoot Out to take place in Watford later this month.

The tournament has a unique format with all matches lasting a maximum of ten minutes within a single frame, with a shot clock of 15 seconds for the first five minutes and ten seconds for the last five.

The world ranking event runs from February 20 to 23 at the Watford Colosseum, with every match televised live on Eurosport.

In all there are 128 players in the field, including 118 professionals, eight wild cards and two from the Q School ranking list.

Evans won the Women’s World Championship for the 12th time last year and is top of the women’s world rankings. The 34-year-old played in the Shoot Out last year as well as the recent Champion of Champions where she ran Shaun Murphy close, losing 4-3.

Wongharuthai, age 20 from Thailand, was runner-up to Evans in last year’s world final and is currently ranked third. She also won the Australian Open last year and is the only female player to make a 147 in a practice match. The Shoot Out will be her first live televised match in the UK.

The other six wild cards selections, based in performance in the World Snooker Federation Open and the Challenge Tour, are:

Ashley Hugill. Age 25 from York. Won the recent World Snooker Federation Open.

Iulian Boiko. Age 14 from Ukraine. Runner-up at the recent World Snooker Federation Open.

Dean Young. Age 18 from Edinburgh. Won a Challenge Tour event this season and a former Scottish Under-21 Champion.

Sean Maddocks. Age 17 from Liverpool. Made a competitive 147 at the age of 15.

Aaron Hill. Age 17 from Cork. European Under-18 Champion in 2019 and a World Snooker Federation Open semi-finalist.

Robbie McGuigan. Age 15 from Antrim. Made his first 147 in practice aged just 13.

Leading pro players in the field will include five-time World Champion Ronnie O’Sullivan, who last played in the event in 2015, Mark Selby, Mark Williams, Shaun Murphy, Mark Allen, Stuart Bingham, Jimmy White and Thailand’s Thepchaiya Un-Nooh who won the title last year.

The random draw will be made soon and announced on wst.tv

The tournament is the third of four events in the BetVictor European Series, with the leading money winner across the series to earn a bonus of £150,000. Current top two Neil Robertson and Judd Trump have not entered the Shoot Out, giving several others a chance to gain ground if they can win the £50,000 top prize and put themselves into contention going in the last event, the BetVictor Gibraltar Open in March.

There is there confirmation that Ronnie has indeed entered the event, almost certainly to try to qualify for the Players Championship, something that doesn’t look very likely as it stands for now.

I have very mixed feelings when it comes to the Shoot Out. Definitely, in my eyes, it should never be a ranking event. But it is, and if Ronnie were to qualify for the Players Championship because of a good run in it, I won’t complain.

The good…

If you accept it for what it is the event is fun. Every player plays in a one table setup, in a mix of glamour and razzmatazz. For the amateurs involved, it’s a great opportunity to showcase their skills. It’s different. There are inevitably twists and turns. The crowd gets involved…

The bad …

It’s a ranking event, which is certainly not right, and something that makes it less fun for players who really need the points. The crowd gets involded.

Yes, the crowd gettng involved, that’s both good and bad.

I went to the Shoot Out twice, at the Tower Circus in Blackpool.

It loved it the first year, in 2011. Players were in good spirit, mixing with the fans. The fans were in good spirit too, loud, some acting a bit silly, but nothing nasty.

Ronnie was there, he was the favourite, but was beaten by Robert Milkins in the SF. It was won by Nigel Bond of all players, not by one of the “quick” ones.

If my memory serves me right, Ronnie made three centuries during the event, including this one against Mark Selby. This was the highest break of the tournament. A lot of people thought that making a century in this event’s conditions would be impossible.

The next year, in 2012, I hated it. It was won by Barry Hawkins who beat Graeme Dott in the final. Dave Harold and his “motionless cue action” had reached the semi finals!

This time the crowd, or at least some in the crowd, became a problem. Some people became very drunk. Female referees were hassled and, at times, verbally abused. Janie Watkins and myself had beer and broken glass thrown at us whilst trying to take pictures. That was no fun anymore. Big Mark Williams from Worldsnooker security had to get involved in order to keep us safe to do our jobs.

Hopefully things like that won’t happen this time. Iulian Boiko, from Ukraine, is still extremely young (14), and Nutcharut Wongharuthai, is tiny and just 20 looking 15. It would be a ig shame if they were exposed to any inappropriate behaviours from some members of the public.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2020 World Grand Prix – Races in Cheltenham – Day 5

The usual strange schedule of the World Grand Prix on ITV meant that yesterday we saw the conclusion of the QF rounds and the first semi-final.

Here is WST report on the QFs conclusion in the afternoon

Neil Robertson explained the debt of thanks he owes to fiancée Mille after beating Joe Perry 5-1 to reach the semi-finals of the Coral World Grand Prix.

Kyren Wilson edged out John Higgins 5-4 and will meet Robertson in the semis in Cheltenham on Saturday evening .

Australia’s Robertson has been in tremendous form in recent weeks, winning 16 of his last 17 matches in a ranking events, a run which has given him the European Masters title.

In 2017 he revealed that Mille, his long term partner and mother of their children Alexander and Penelope, had been suffering from anxiety and depression for two years. Her health has since improved, and Robertson himself feels that more stability in his family life has helped him to succeed in his career on the baize.

“As a family we had well documented issues away from the table. I wouldn’t be in this position now if it wasn’t for Mille,” said the 37-year-old. “I’m really motivated to do it for her. When I get home I can’t complain about being tired because I’m playing a lot of matches as she is looking after Penelope who is only sleeping four hours a night – if I did she’d probably kick me out!

“The happiness away from the table is key. I can go to tournaments and know that everything is good at home, and that makes a big difference. That’s one of the challenges for players with families, there are factors away from snooker to take into account.”

In today’s contest between two close friends, Perry took the opening frame with an excellent 62 clearance, but from that point Robertson dominated. Runs of 47 and 40 gave him the second frame than an 86 put him 2-1 up. A superb 140 total clearance in the fourth extended his advantage and made him the new front runner for the £10,000 high break prize.

Frame five came down to a safety exchange on the blue, which went in Robertson’s favour as he moved 4-1 in front. And breaks of 31 and 41 in the sixth saw him into his 39th ranking event semi-final.

“I was having one of those days where I was going for any long balls and they were going in,” he added. “When that’s happening I feel fantastic about my game. I don’t think Joe did much wrong, other than perhaps miss the chance to go 3-2. I’m not thinking much about winning, I’m just going out there and playing, and I believe my best is good enough.”

Wilson followed up yesterday’s win over Judd Trump with a hard-fought victory over Higgins which lasted three hours and 52 minutes. It’s his first win over Higgins in a ranking event and the Warrior is through to his first ranking semi-final since October’s World Open.

Kettering’s Wilson made the bigger breaks today, compiling runs of 64, 89 and 74, but found himself 4-3 down as Higgins got the better of the fragmented frames. But four-time World Champion Higgins missed chances to seal victory in frame eight and Wilson eventually took it thanks to an excellent long pot on the last red.

In the decider, runs of 25 and 37 gave Wilson a 62-0 lead, then Wishaw’s Higgins had a chance to counter but made just 17 before missing a tricky red to a centre pocket. He later got two of the three snookers he needed, only for Wilson to pot the brown to remain on course for a fourth career ranking title.

“It’s one of the best wins of my career, not in terms of the performance but because of the stature of my opponent, he is one of the all-time greats,” said 28-year-old Wilson. “John and Mark Selby are the two players you don’t want coming at you when they need snookers in the deciding frame. I felt like I was in snookers for about half an hour. John sticks in there right until the end even when it looks like he is beaten.

“I wasn’t showing much form coming into this tournament. I have just been trying to enjoy it this week, having a bit of fun with the crowd, not thinking too much and trying to play the balls as I see them.”

A disappointed Higgins said: “The top players would have closed that match out. For the last couple of years I haven’t been one of the top players so that’s what happens. When I had the chance in the last frame I fancied clearing up but I played a terrible positional shot from pink to red, with a bit of adrenaline going I nipped into the white too much.”

Yesterday I had the opportunity to watch a lot of snooker, first time in many days.

I may be expecting too much, but, in my eyes, Joe Perry was pretty dreadful yesterday, except in the first frame, and Neil Robertson’s victory was never in doubt. Neil himself played OK, but wasn’t at his best. His long potting was excellent, and he had two big breaks, including a 140, for now the highest break of the event. But overall his positinal game and cue ball control weren’t that great.

Kyren Wilson did beat John Higgins without playing really well at all, at least not when I was watching, after the conclusion of the Robertson v Perry match. It was a very fragmented game. Kyren’s cue ball control isn’t the best, or should I say, not at the same level as other parts of his game. There wasn’t a single big break from either player in the last three frames. John Higgins is clearly low in confidence and, when hearing him assessing his performances, you almost have the feeling that he’s giving up on any further career ambition.  Yesterday, the win went to the one who had the most fight in him.

If both play in similar ways today, Neil Robertson should beat Kyren Wilson.

And this is the WST report on the Greaeme Dott v Tom Ford semi final

Graeme Dott beat Tom Ford 6-4 in the semi-finals of the Coral World Grand Prix and is just one match away from setting a new record for the longest gap between ranking event victories.

The 42-year-old Scot, who knocked out Ronnie O’Sullivan in Thursday’s quarter-finals, will face either Neil Robertson or Kyren Wilson in the final on Sunday at Cheltenham Racecourse, with the winner to bank £100,000.

Dott’s only previous ranking event wins came at the 2006 World Championship and 2007 China Open, so a 13-year gap between titles would eclipse the 12 years which separated Jimmy White’s victories at the 1992 UK Championship and 2004 Players Championship.

World number 21 Dott, who is now guaranteed £40,000, is into his tenth career ranking final and first since the 2018 Shoot Out. He was a semi-finalist at last week’s German Masters and has now gone one better.

In a high quality contest tonight which featured a century and seven more breaks over 50, Dott started strongly as runs of 81 and 67 gave him the first two frames.

He was on a break of 50 in the third when he accidentally touched a red with his shirt cuff, the foul well spotted by referee Desislava Bozhilova. That proved a turning point as Ford hit back to snatch the frame with a 37 clearance, and he made a 66 in the next to level at 2-2.

Larkhall’s Dott regained the lead after the interval, then Ford fired runs of 91 and 89 to lead 4-3. Back came Dott with 70 and 103 to go 5-4 ahead. A run of 38 put Dott in control of frame ten, and after a brief safety exchange he thumped in a long red and added 14 points which proved enough.

“Tonight’s win feels better than beating Ronnie,” said three-time Crucible finalist Dott. “When I beat Ronnie I had my game, whereas tonight I was struggling, I was losing the white constantly. It was good to show some bottle and stand up because I could have crumbled at 4-3.

“The foul at 2-0 threw me because I really felt comfortable up until then. I found it hard to settle after that. If I had gone 3-0 then Tom wouldn’t have been able to get into the match.

“It does feel like 13 years since the last one I won – in fact it feels like longer. I’m not exactly a prolific winner. I have been playing well and feeling as if this has been coming all season. The pleasing part is that when I don’t have my game I am still able to play to a decent standard.

“I’ll be ready for the final but it will be tough, especially if it’s against Neil because he’s playing so well. I just want to get involved in the match – give me 6-6 on Sunday night and I’ll fancy it.

“Tomorrow I’ll just practise and laze about, eat as much junk food as I possibly can…just a normal day for me!”

It was indeed an excellent, and entertaining, match. Tom Ford lost but the improvements in his attitude and mindset are remarkable and, if he persists, he might well become a top 16 player very soon. Graeme Dott, as I wrote yesterday, is a much underrated player. Depression has ruined his career for the best part of the last 12 years. But, for what we saw in recent weeks, he’s back, and if he can keep that up, beware, he’s World Champion material, with the iron will to win and the grit that goes with it.

If he can play tomorrow like he did to beat Ronnie and Tom, I fancy him to win the title and nobody will want to face him in Sheffield!

2020 World Grand Prix – Races in Cheltenham – Day 4

In the afternoon, we saw the conclusion of the last 16 rounds and the exit of Judd Trump, the defending Champion, World Champion and World n°1.

Here is the report by WST:

Kyren Wilson won a dramatic final frame to beat World Champion Judd Trump 4-3 in the last 16 of the Coral World Grand Prix.

Both players had chances in a nervy decider but it was Wilson who took it by potting the last blue and pink to set up a quarter-final with John Higgins on Friday afternoon in Cheltenham.

Trump has won four ranking titles so far this season but will have to wait until next week’s Welsh Open for another crack at equalling the record of five in a single campaign.

Draw
Tickets

Wilson, by his own high standards, has had a disappointing season, reaching the semi-finals of just one ranking event. But having knocked out Trump he will feel his chances of adding to his career tally of three ranking titles are dramatically improved.

His seventh win in 11 meetings with Trump also boosts his position on the one-year ranking list and his hopes of qualifying for the second and third events in the Coral Series. He came into this event in 16th place but is now sure to move up.

The opening frame came down to a safety battle on the final pink, and Wilson won it to go 1-0 up. Trump levelled with a run of 77 then Wilson made a 31 clearance in the third and a 68 in the fourth to lead 3-1. World number one Trump compiled a run of 100 in the fifth and then added the sixth – with the help of a fluked blue while in the balls – to level at 3-3.

The decider lasted 37 minutes and came down to the colours. Wilson clipped in a thin cut on the brown but then failed to pot a straight-forward blue to a centre pocket with the score at 50-50. Trump was left with a tricky blue to a baulk corner and missed, leaving his opponent simple pots on the blue and pink to seal the result.

“Judd is a fantastic player so I’m pleased to get a win over him,” said Kettering’s Wilson. “There’s a lot of pressure out there so it’s important to just try to enjoy it. Even when things were going against me, I didn’t let it get to me. You’ve just got to keep doing the right things and hope that you get your chance.

“My game has been there this season but it has been frustrating for me not to get the results. I know I’m capable of producing good snooker on the big stage. It will be very tough tomorrow against John Higgins. He was one of my heroes growing up, he’s a phenomenal player.”

Wins For Higgins, Robertson And Perry

Higgins, seeking his first ranking title since the 2018 Welsh Open, eased to a 4-1 win over China’s Zhao Xintong with a top break of 68.

Neil Robertson whitewashed Mark Williams 4-0 in just 56 minutes and has now won 15 of his last 16 matches in ranking events. Williams is suffering from gout and managed to battle past Barry Hawkins yesterday, but was no match for the in-form Robertson. Breaks of 100, 100 and 105 helped the Australian to set up a meeting with close friend Joe Perry.

Cambridgeshire cueman Perry raced into a 3-0 lead over Scott Donaldson with a top run of 52. Back-to-back centuries, 114 and 120, saw Donaldson recover to 3-2, but Perry got the better of an exchange on the colours in frame six, potting green, brown and blue to secure his place in the last eight.

I was traveling and saw nothing, so can’t comment. Just this… only did I get off the plane in Santorini in the evening that the hubby informed me that Judd Trump had the fluke of the century

but still lost!

In the evening, Ronnie lost to Graeme Dott, who is playing really well, and Tom Ford beat Gary Wilson, which I didsn’t expect.

You can read all about Ronnie’s defeat and Graeme’s win here

Graeme is a much under-rated player who got an undeserved reputation of being slow and negative. He isn’t either and never was. It all came from the 2006 World Final that he won. First, he was playing Peter Ebdon who is a master at bogging down matches because it suits him, next, both were exhausted and with the importance of the match, both were very cautious. A lot of the media never gave Dotty much attention and the memories of this final stuck in the memories. Dott also has a reputation with some of being grumpy. Well he’s got every reason to. Even when he was the reigning World Champion, there were occurences when he was put on the side tables whilst others were on television. He didn’t get the recognition he deserved. You don’t get to three World Finals if you’re not a top player. I would certainly be very happy for him if he went on to win this week.

Here is WST report on Tom Ford’s win

In beating Wilson, Ford reached his second ranking event semi-final of the season, having lost to David Gilbert in the last four of the English Open.

Leicester’s Ford has been working with mindset coach Sabrina Francis this season to improve his attitude on and off the table, and it is clearly working as he is pushing towards the top 16 of the one-year ranking list.

He shared the first four frames against Wilson, then made breaks of 84 and 54 in going 4-2 up. Wilson had chances in the seventh but when he missed a tricky penultimate red to a top corner, leading 34-33, it proved his last shot as Ford cleared for victory.

“Working with the mind coach has been great for me,” said 36-year-old Ford “I have been able to forget about things which happen in previous frames and stop winding myself up. That has shown in my results. I’ll have to up my game in the semi-final. There’s a reason why Graeme is there – he obviously played well to beat Ronnie.”

 

 

2020 World Grand Prix – Ronnie’s run ends in the QF at the hands of Graeme Dott

Ronnie was beaten by Graeme Dott in the QF of the World Grand Prix yesterday. Here are the scores.

WGP2020 ROS QF Scores

Dott was definitely the better player. He was excellent in all departments. The main issue in Ronnie’s game was a lack of accuracy in the safeties and in the positional game from distance. He isn’t match sharp and it feels. That comes from not playing enough in competition. It’s a difficult situation because Ronnie has never been one who copes well with “overplaying”; he gets “saturated” and stops enjoying it. At this stage of his career, he needs to enjoy it to be able to continue to play, enjoyment and motivation are the keys of longevity, but, on the other hand, he needs to play more to stay sharp.

Reaching the QF, in a tournament that features only the top 32 players of the season so far, isn’t that bad normally. But, in this case, it’s really a bit of a disaster. Ronnie is now 20th on the one year list. He can’t be overtaken, but, Tom Ford’s win yesterday means that he probably needs the final in Wales next week to get the opportunity to defend his Players Championship title. Unless he improves massively in his early round matches, I can’t see this happening. He hasn’t a bad draw, but it’s best of seven matches and Ronnie won’t go there full of confidence…

Here is the report by WST:

Ronnie O’Sullivan’s lack of match sharpness caught up with him as he suffered a surprise 5-3 reverse against Graeme Dott in the quarter-finals of the Coral World Grand Prix.

WGP2020ROSQF-10Former World Champion Dott is through to his second consecutive ranking event semi-final, having got to the same stage of last week’s German Masters, and will now meet Tom Ford, who saw off Gary Wilson 5-2.

O’Sullivan had won his previous five meetings with Dott, a sequence stretching back to 2011, but made too many errors tonight in Cheltenham and was punished. This was O’Sullivan’s first tournament since the Scottish Open two months ago, and even in scoring 4-3 wins over David Gilbert and Liang Wenbo in the first two rounds, he admitted his all-round game was rusty.

WGP2020ROSQF-3

The Rocket may need a deep run in either the Welsh Open or the Shoot Out over the next two weeks to qualify for the 16-man Coral Players Championship later this month in Southport; a tournament he won last season.

O’Sullivan took the opening frame tonight after Dott had gone in-off in potting the penultimate red. Larkhall’s Dott hit back with breaks of 77 and 47 as he went 2-1 up, and he stole the fourth with a superb 60 clearance which included a series of excellent positional shots.

After the interval, five-time World Champion O’Sullivan made 52 and 102 as he fought back to 3-3. In frame seven he got the snooker he needed on the last red, but then made a safety error which gave Dott the chance to pot the red and regain the lead. And 42-year-old Dott seized his chance to close out the match in frame eight as a rasping long red set up a break of 91.

“I made a good break in the second frame and that settled me down, I played really well after that,” said 2006 Crucible king Dott. “My game is good, there are still parts of it that I’m not happy with, but it was fine tonight. Tom Ford is a great player and a good mate of mine as well so it’s nice that one of us will be in the final. It should be an open, attacking match.”

O’Sullivan said: “Graeme played well he deserved his victory, he was much the better player. I’ve got no complaints, I did well to get three frames. It’s hard to analyse my own performance, it doesn’t matter how I played, I just didn’t get the result. I always felt I was second best.”

Big thanks to Tai Chengzhe for these great pictures

Coverage:

The match

 

2020 World Grand Prix – Races in Cheltenham – Day 3

The afternoon session yesterday at the Centaur saw the conclusion of the last 32 round.

Here is the WST report:

Mark Williams overcame an attack of gout which left him “lying on the floor screaming” to beat Barry Hawkins 4-2 in the first round of the Coral World Grand Prix.

Williams is into the last 16 at Cheltenham Racecourse and will face Neil Robertson on Thursday afternoon.

Gout, a condition which causes sudden extreme pain, struck Williams last Saturday when he tweeted it felt as if “someone has hit my big toe with a hammer.” Medication has eased the pain and he was able to compete today, aided by an exemption which allowed him to wear a soft shoe on his left foot.

The three-time World Champion was far from his best against Hawkins but showed determination as he battled into the second round. Breaks of 50 and 58 helped him to a 3-1 lead. Hawkins took a scrappy fifth frame before Williams sealed victory in the next with runs of 47 and 40.

“I didn’t think I could win but I wanted to give it a go,” said 44-year-old Williams. “Barry struggled, probably because he saw me limping around the table and it put him off.

“A couple of days ago I couldn’t stick it. I was lying on the floor screaming. I have been on the tablets since Monday and now it is ten times better. The doctor says it should clear up within the next couple of days.”

Higgins Gains Confidence With Bingham Win

John Higgins saw off Stuart Bingham 4-2 to set up a match with Zhao Xintong. Four-time World Champion Higgins is currently ninth in the one-year rankings so every win is vital as he looks towards qualification for the second and third events in the Coral Series.

Wishaw’s Higgins took a scrappy opening frame then came from 40-0 down to win the second with a 60 clearance. Bingham took the third with a huge stroke of luck as he missed the final blue to a baulk corner but it came off three cushions and dropped into a centre pocket. The Masters champion made a 57 in the next as he recovered to 2-2.

Higgins regained the lead then Bingham looked set to make it 3-3 until he ran out of position leading 64-23 in the sixth. Higgins dropped an excellent pot on the third-last red into a centre pocket and cleared with 42 for victory.

“I’m delighted because I have lost deciding frames in the last two tournaments and it looked like going 3-3 today,” said 44-year-old Higgins. “There were nerves when I was clearing up because I haven’t won a lot of matches recently so I’m low on confidence. Even when the balls look easy, you can miss anything.”

Round-up

Kyren Wilson came from 2-0 down to beat Jack Lisowski 4-3, earning a match with Judd Trump on Thursday at 1pm.

Local favourite Lisowski, from Churchdown, started strongly with breaks of 63 and 88, then Wilson hit back to take the next three frames with a top run of 76. Lisowski made a 64 to level at 3-3 but was trapped in a tough snooker early in the decider and gave away 32 penalty points. Wilson then compiled a run of 52 which proved enough.

Zhao won a Chinese derby against Yan Bingtao 4-2. Breaks of 56, 103 and 77 helped Zhao reach the last 16 of a ranking event for the fifth time this season.

This was the situation on the table that cost Jack Lisowski 32 penalty points…

Lisowski WGP 2020, last 32 - tough snooker

Bingham played nowhere near the level that allowed him to win the Masters last month. A lot of top players really seem to struggle for consistency, but maybe in this case it’s a bit of “hangover”, combined with lack of match play (Bingham didn’t qualify for either of the “European” tournaments played earlier this year).

Barry Hawkins was plain awful. Mark Williams was in huge discomfort and often unable to find his usual stance on the shots. He had to use implements when he normally would not, and, at times, even needed to change his shot selection. All credits to him for playing and winning.

The evening session “offered” half of the last 16 matches.

You can read all about Ronnie’s win over Liang Wenbo here.

This is the short WST round up about the other last 16 matches played yesterday

Round-up

Dott’s progress was much more serene as he beat Xiao Guodong 4-0 with a top break of 67. Tom Ford was in fine form in a 4-2 win over Matthew Selt, knocking in breaks of 54, 97 and 73.

Ford now meets Gary Wilson, who overcame a pulled muscle in his back to beat Matthew Stevens 4-1 with top breaks of 53, 74 and 92. “I was struggling just to walk around the table,” said Crucible semi-finalist Wilson. “I just wanted to try to score quickly and get it over with. I was fortunate that Matthew missed a few.”

I didn’t see a thing, so can’t comment.

Just this though: Mark Williams suggested that, maybe, seeing him in pain and struggling was a factor in Barry’s poor performance and Ronnie said that seeing Liang seemingly struggle to deliver shots has put him off. In both cases it’s the expression of an empathy that you would never have found in Steve Davis or Stephen Hendry in their prime, and, strictly from a sporting point of view, it’s a weakness. Of course Ronnie is close friend with Liang. Neither Davis or Hendry would ever been friend with a fellow player when they were at their peak.

 

2020 World Grand Prix – Ronnie beats Liang Wenbo in the last 16

WGP2020ROSL16Win

Ronnie beat Liang Wenbo in the World Grand Prix last 16, and here are the stats…

WGP 2020 Ronnie Last 16 Scores

WGP 2020 Ronnie Last 16 Stats

Ronnie had three centuries in this match against Liang Wenbo, but still only scraped over the line. In the first two frames, Ronnie had 99% pot success. Then came the third frame, and it completely turned the feel of the match. There was a lenghty “false start” that ended up in a re-rack. The balls went incredibly awkward and, eventually, the players agreed that the frame was going nowhere. So they started again. But somehow, this “interlude” had completely broken Ronnie’s rhythm and fluency. He started missing and showing signs of frustration, and, he didn’t get much run of the balls either. Liang took full advantage and it went 2-2. Ronnie regained the advantage with a great 132 in the fifth, only for Liang to take the next with his best break of the match, a 74. The decider was scrappy … as deciders so often are, both players obviously under pressure. Liang looked like taking it, only to miss but leaving Ronnie a difficult table. Ronnie took the lead with a skilfull break, but couldn’t finish the job. With 25 on the tabble, it was Liang who potted the green and snookered Ronnie on the brown. Ronnie missed the brown at first attempt, but on second attempt hit it and got a snooker back as well. Liang mzanaged to hit the brown but couldn’t get it safe. Ronnie potted it and cleared to pink to win… phew!

Here is the report by WST

WGP2020ROSL16-3

Ronnie O’Sullivan reached the quarter-finals of the Coral World Grand Prix with a 4-3 win over Liang Wenbo, who missed a golden chance for victory in the deciding frame.

O’Sullivan felt his opponent was suffering from the “yips” and was fortunate to continue his progress at the tournament in Cheltenham. He’ll meet Graeme Dott in the last eight on Thursday at 7pm.

Playing in his first tournament since December’s Scottish Open, O’Sullivan may lack his usual all-round sharpness, but his break-building tonight was of the highest quality as he fired three centuries.

Breaks of 120 and 100 put him 2-0 up, before China’s Liang took the third with a 56 clearance then got the better of a scrappy fourth for 2-2. O’Sullivan’s 132 saw him regain the lead then Liang made a 74 for 3-3.

First chance in the decider went to Liang and he made 32 before missing a tough blue. O’Sullivan’s counter was on 47 when he failed to pot the last red along the top cushion, leaving it in the jaws. With every ball in the open, Liang took the red, pink and yellow but didn’t get position on the green. A safety exchange on the brown ended with an error from Liang which gave his opponent the chance to clinch the tie.

“It was a twitchy sort of game, Liang looked like he had the yips,” said five-time World Champion O’Sullivan. “For the first five frames he looked like he couldn’t let go of the cue. That put me off a bit because I was thinking if I can’t beat someone with the yips then I might as well turn it in. That type of thing goes through your head and you have to try to block it out and just play. That’s the difference between matches and practice.

“I felt very rusty. I’m ok among the balls but I’m all at sea in the other areas of the game. Hopefully with each match I can get a bit stronger.”

Coverage:

The match

Here is Ronnie’s postmatch with WST

Ronnie is right, he will be second favourite against Graeme Dott, but as long as he’s still in the competition, he can improve and who knows? And, yes, Ronnie has entered the Shootout … so he really wants more ranking points, and with Gary Wilson winning tonight as well Ronnie now needs the final to get into the top 16.

And here is the postmatch analysis by the ITV pundits

And some more great images, thanks to Tai Chengzhe

2020 World Grand Prix – Races in Cheltenham – Day 2

Let’s first get this out of the way: yesterday main talking point amongst fans has been the truly terrible drawings of the players WST has been using in their social media… As it proved, outrage is sometimes the more efficient publicity stunt.

The second day in Cheltenham saw more higher seeds go out, amongst them Mark Allen and Shaun Murphy. This might prove important for Ronnie as he’s now the only top 16 player remaining in his half of the draw. It doesn’t mean that it will be easy: all the players in this competition have shown form this season and there are no easy matches. The short format is also a factor. Joe Perry beating Ali Carter and Graeme Dott beating Kurt Maflin also help Ronnie’s cause because both were ahead of him in the one year list at the start of the tournament and he has now overtaken them.

Afternoon session:

Neil Robertson insisted he feels “no fatigue” and is determined to keep riding his wave of form after an exciting 4-3 win over Michael Holt in the first round of the Coral World Grand Prix.

Robertson has now won 14 of his last 15 matches in ranking events, a run which has given him the European Masters title. His only defeat came against Judd Trump in the German Masters final last Sunday.

After returning from Berlin yesterday he headed to Cheltenham for the first event in the Coral Series and kept his momentum going with a hard-fought win over Holt.

A break of 78 gave Australia’s Robertson the opening frame before Holt hit back with 79 and 122 to lead 2-1. Runs of 65 and 69 from Robertson gave him the next two then Holt took the sixth for 3-3.

Early in the decider, Holt was faced with a tricky safety and left it several inches short of the baulk cushion. Robertson whistled in a trademark long red to set up a match-winning contribution of 79.

“Michael played flawless snooker to go 2-1 up and he was brave in his shot selection,” said 37-year-old Robertson, who now meets Mark Williams or Barry Hawkins in the last 16. “I enjoy those kind of matches and I’m glad I could respond.

“I have had a great couple of weeks and I hope I can keep it going, I don’t feel any fatigue. It’s just good to be playing at a high level. These Coral events are special because you are always up against top players so you have to be up for every match.”

Donaldson Continues Ding Hoodoo

Scott Donaldson beat Ding Junhui 4-0 and has now knocked the Chinese ace out of each of the last three tournaments. Showing the most consistent form of his career, Scotland’s Donaldson has climbed to 22nd in the official world rankings and a deep run this week will boost his hopes of qualifying for the 16-man Coral Players Championship later this month.

The first three frames all came down to the colours, and each of them went Donaldson’s way. The third in fact was settled on a respotted black when the Perthshire Potter thumped it into a baulk corner. That gave him the confidence to seal victory in the next with a break of 81.

“The two previous wins over Ding were more pleasing because I actually played some good stuff,” said 25-year-old Donaldson. “I was quite disappointed with how I played there, I missed so many balls. Ding let me off the hook in every frame. If he was on his game he would have beaten me 4-0 easily, so for me to win 4-0 is just ridiculous.

“The more experience I get on the TV table the more I can adjust and work out why I’m missing these shots. Moments like these can happen if you use your brain properly and just keep going. I’m happy where I am but that performance has shaken me a little bit. I’ve had plenty of times where I’ve played terrible and then gone and played great snooker.”

Round-up

Joe Perry scored a 4-2 win over Masters runner-up Ali Carter. Perry took the first three frames with a top break of 106 and eventually sealed victory in the sixth with excellent pots on the pink and black. Graeme Dott top scored with 76 in a 4-1 win over Kurt Maflin.

Evening session:

Liang Wenbo expressed his wish to “help my people” in the light of the coronavirus outbreak after setting up a match with Ronnie O’Sullivan in the second round of the Coral World Grand Prix.

China’s Liang scored a fine 4-2 win over Mark Allen in Cheltenham to book a last-16 clash with O’Sullivan on Wednesday night.

Before the tournament, Liang announced that he would donate his prize money this week to the Red Cross in the city of Huizhou where he grew up and learned to play snooker. The Red Cross is helping victims of the coronavirus in Wuhan and across China.

“I just want to contribute and do my bit, to help my people in need. So I decided to donate all my prize money from this week,” said Liang, who is already guaranteed £7,500. “It’s an answer to myself because it feels important to me, and I wish to deliver whatever I can. It’s not about other people’s opinions.”

Given those circumstances as well as the recent death of his mother, world number 38 Liang showed impressive focus to knock out Allen, ranked 31 places above him. From 1-0 down, Liang took three frames in a row with a top break of 105. Allen pulled one back with a 130 but Liang sealed the result in frame six with a 62.

“I managed to take my chances at crucial moments,” said 32-year-old Liang. “I wanted this win badly, so I’m happy about the result. I’ll be prepared for the next match, against my good friend O’Sullivan. There’s certainly no friendship on the table, we will both play it seriously. He has helped me a lot in recent years so hopefully we can both contribute to an excellent match.”

Two-Ton Juddernaut Hard To Stop

Judd Trump maintained the form which gave him the German Masters title last week as he made two centuries in a 4-1 defeat of Li Hang. He now meets Kyren Wilson or Jack Lisowski on Thursday afternoon.

World Champion Trump has already won four ranking titles this season – one more would see him equal the record of five in a single campaign, achieved by Stephen Hendry, Ding Junhui, Mark Selby and Ronnie O’Sullivan.

China’s Li took the opening frame tonight with a 129 but scored just one point in the remainder of the match as Trump fired runs of 65, 100, 138 and 97.

“He started well and put me under pressure,” said world number one Trump. “After that I put my stamp on the game. I can still improve but it was important to keep the momentum going and keep playing well.”

Murphy And Un-Nooh Fall

Shaun Murphy let slip a 3-1 lead as he lost 4-3 to Matthew Stevens. The turning point came in frame five when world number ten Murphy ran out of position on a break of 62. Stevens ended up snatching that frame on the colours then made a 68 in the next for 3-3.

A tense 44-minute decider came down to the last red and Stevens, leading 55-34, doubled the red into a centre pocket and added the points he needed to set up a match with Gary Wilson.

Thepchaiya Un-Nooh is currently seventh on the one-year rankings but he went down 4-3 to Matthew Selt.

From 2-1 down, Selt had a 134 in frame four and added the fifth to lead 3-2. Un-Nooh made a 107 for 3-3 and had first chance in the decider but missed a red to a top corner on 33. Selt took control of the frame with a run of 48 and eventually sealed it on the colours.

Selt will now face Tom Ford, the first meeting between the pair since an ill-tempered Championship League match in October.

“I just want to put that to bed, there was some bad feeling but there isn’t any more,” Selt explained. “He did something and I reacted badly. We saw each other in Glasgow and both apologised, which is good because we had always got on really well before that. It will be a tough match because he’s a great player.”

Neil Robertson may insist that he feels no fatigue but yesterday he did look tired out there. He didn’t play well, especially in the early part of the match and got me wondering if he had “hit the wall”. From 2-1 down he improved though.

Ding looked to have found his mojo back at the UK Championship last December, but since then it’s been rather disastrous. It’s really bizarre because I thought that his recent change of management would put him back on tracks. Scott Donaldson has now beaten him in the last three ranking tournaments, and, this time, without playing outstanding. Ding in his seat, again looked dispirited or tired. It’s hard to tell.

Judd Trump played really well. Losing the first frame obviously focused his mind. He was impressive after that.

This afternoon Mark Williams is due to play Barry Hawkins. Going by his twitter, Mark is suffering from a bad bout of gout. He finds it nearly impossible to wear shoes as it his left toe hurts badly. He’s determined to play; he actually though that the £5000 for the first round loser would count to his ranking, which isn’t the case, contrary to what happened in previous seasons.

He tried to convince WST to allow him to wear this

willoslippers.jpg

They were having none of it… so this is his kit for this afternoon:

willokit.jpg

At least his sense of humour is intact… get well soon Mark and good luck this afternoon.