Northern Ireland Open 2018 – Judd Trump is your Champion

Congratulations Judd Trump !

 

NIOpen2018TrumpChampion-2

Judd Trump beat Ronnie by 9-7 yesterday in Belfast, in a compelling match where both played well but not quite as well as they had during the week.

Here is the report on Worldsnooker:

Judd Trump claimed his first ranking title in over a year after a stunning 9-7 defeat of Ronnie O’Sullivan in the final of the BetVictor Northern Ireland Open in Belfast.

The momentous victory for Trump is his fourth win in a final over five-time Crucible king O’Sullivan and reduces his head-to-head deficit with the Rocket to 10-9.

This is the ninth ranking title of Trump’s career and ends a trophy drought which extends back to the 2017 European Masters. He is now level with Peter Ebdon and John Parrot in 10th position on the all-time ranking event winner’s list and has moved just one behind Jimmy White’s total of 10 titles.

Defeat for O’Sullivan prevents him from taking home silverware in back-to-back weeks after winning the Champion of Champions in Coventry last Sunday. The Rocket will now turn his attentions to York, where he will seek to defend the UK Championship title he won 12 months ago.

The players were inseparable during a tightly contested afternoon session, where they shared the frames to emerge level at 4-4.

To that point there was never more than a frame between the pair and that pattern continued this evening as they went blow for blow. They reached the mid-session at 6-6 and when they returned it was O’Sullivan who sparked the match into life with a stunning clearance of 134 to move 7-6 ahead.

The Rocket appeared to have the momentum. However, that break jolted Trump into gear and he made a surge for the finishing line. After winning back-to-back frames he powered home with a break of 79 to secure the Alex Higgins Trophy and the £70,000 top prize with a superb 9-7 victory.

It was tough all day,” said 2011 UK Champion Trump. “I was prepared for facing Ronnie. Against anyone else I would probably have been 6-2 up after the first session. Nobody else clears up after you miss like he does. Tonight it was a little bit different and I was making the clearances after his mistakes.

This is a massive win. It has been a long time since I won an event. It is nice to get one at the start of the season, which is still quite fresh for me. There is a long way to go and this gives me confidence to carry into some big tournaments coming up.

“A few people have written me off. It was nice to play the sort of snooker I have in the past. Going for my shots, potting everything and clearing up. It is nice to play with a bit of freedom again.

Despite the loss O’Sullivan was philosophical about his performance this week and in an upbeat mood when conducting his post-match media duties.

O’Sullivan said: “I’m over the moon to be honest. I would have been even if I had lost yesterday. I had a good week, I kept it as competitive as I could and I am enjoying my snooker. I won five ranking titles last season, but I wasn’t enjoying it. I will take what I am doing now all day long rather than last season.

Ronnie was second best from the start. It would have been great if he had won it, but we have to remember that those guys are humans, not robots. I believe that Ronnie left a lot of mental energy in the semi-finals win over Mark Selby and somehow I wasn’t surprised that his level dropped a bit. There are still a lot of positives to be taken, most notably that he has probably secured his spot in the World Grand Prix 2019.

Despite the loss he was very positive after the match

As for Judd, it was clear for all to see what it meant to him tp win this title, his 9th, after a rather tough year. There was no signs of complacency this week. I think that the criticism he got, and the suggestion that Kyren Wilson could win the World Championship before he does dir really hurt him. He reacted the right way, worked hard, applied himself and this is the result. Congratulations Judd!

 

Northern Ireland Open 2018 – QF and SF round-up

So, today Ronnie will play Judd Trump in the final. How did we get there?

Quarter Finals round – Worldsnooker report

Ronnie O’Sullivan defeated David Gilbert 5-2 to set up a blockbuster semi-final clash with Mark Selby at the BetVictor Northern Ireland Open in Belfast.

O’Sullivan secured this evening’s victory with breaks of 51, 83, 102, 75 and 85, which ensured his progression to face three-time World Champion Selby tomorrow afternoon at 1pm.

The O’Sullivan and Selby rivalry has seen the pair do battle in the final of all three of snooker’s Triple Crown events and is arguably the most prominent clash in the sport today.

The Rocket holds the upper hand in their head-to-head record, leading 13-9. However, they haven’t faced each other on the World Snooker Tour in almost two years. Their most recent meeting came in the 2016 UK Championship final, where the Jester from Leicester won 10-7 to take home the title.

Following today’s match five-time World Champion O’Sullivan said: “I remember when I was playing against people like Stephen Hendry when he was number one and you have to just give it your all. It doesn’t get any tougher than playing Mark Selby in a semi-final, but that is what you practise for and what you look forward to.”

Selby secured his place in the semis by winning an engrossing contest with Thepchaiya Un-Nooh 5-3.

The match was always set to be a high quality encounter, with both players showing fine form this week. Thailand’s Un-Nooh produced an astonishing last 16 performance to beat Robbie Williams 4-0 in just 37 minutes. While world number one Selby has now compiled 20 breaks over 50 in the 27 frames he has played this week.

Un-Nooh came firing out of the blocks and made a break of 80 and take the opening frame. Selby responded with a run of 67, before Un-Nooh edged a tight third frame to go 2-1 up.

The Jester from Leicester landed a crucial blow before the mid-session, potting a tough final pink and black to ensure they went into the break all-square at 2-2. The following two frames were shared, before Selby forced his way over the line to claim the 5-3 victory.

Judd Trump came through a tough match with Ryan Day 5-3 to secure his semi-final spot.

The Ace in the Pack has produced some sublime snooker this week and continued to dazzle the Belfast crowds today, making breaks of 66, 73, 66 and 120 on his way to the win.

His opponent in the last four will be Eden Sharav, who completed a superb fightback 5-4 victory over 2002 World Champion Peter Ebdon.

Sharav trailed 4-1, but after clawing his way back to 4-4 he capped off a marathon win with a break of 44 under severe pressure in the decider. This result books him his maiden ranking event semi-final appearance, having only just reached the quarters for the first time this week as well.

The match between Peter Ebdon and Eden Sharav was in total contrast with what we have seen most of the week. In many ways it was old-school snooker, hypnotically slow at times. Somehow Eden managed to freeze Peter Ebdon out and break any rhythm he may have had , which is quite some feat as this is what Peter has done to others so many times. Especially during Eden’s fightback, it was a fragmented, methodical affair. It was like watching in slow motion, at least it’s how it felt to me. Maybe the fact that it was nearly 2 am where I am when it finished has something to do with that feeling.

and here is all about Ronnie’s quarter final against David Gilbert

Semi Finals round – Worldsnooker report on the Trump v Sharav match

Judd Trump is through to the final of the BetVictor Northern Ireland Open after defeating world number 77 Eden Sharav 6-3 in Belfast.

Trump, who has eight ranking titles to his name, will now be hoping to end his silverware drought which extends back to the 2017 European Masters, where he defeated Stuart Bingham 9-7 to take home the title.

To do so he will have to come out on top in what is set to be a blockbuster clash with five-time World Champion Ronnie O’Sullivan, who has won the last three meetings between the pair. They will do battle over the best of 17 frames for the £70,000 top prize.

Despite being a difficult defeat for Sharav, he goes away with the consolation of £20,000 and having achieved the best ranking run of his career so far. Previously he had never been beyond the last 16 stage.

The Ace in the Pack came flying out of the traps this evening, firing in breaks of 54, 107 and 68 as he moved into an early 3-0 advantage. At that point Sharav looked to be on the ropes, but he made an important clearance of 65 before the mid-session to go into the break 3-1 down.

That didn’t look to have done much to deter Trump when the players emerged. He compiled a sublime century run of 108 to move further ahead at 4-1. However, Sharav showed great character in what was the biggest match of his career so far, taking the next two frames to pull within one.

Trump wasn’t to be denied, claiming two on the bounce and composing a break of 97 in the process, to secure his place in the final against O’Sullivan.

“It was important to get off to a good start. He is a little bit slower than I am, so it could have gone a bit scrappy. I felt confident out there,” said Trump. “I think the fans here are very passionate. It could be a bit rowdy tomorrow and a good atmosphere. The table is playing lovely so hopefully we can live up the hype and produce some good snooker.

“It is nice going out there knowing that I am confident. I have played well all week and haven’t really put in any bad performances. I’ve been consistent and I have had that form for one or two months. I think it is more enjoyable going out and knowing you will play well. Hopefully tomorrow I can just play my game, not let the standards slip and make him work for it.”

and here all about the Ronnie v Mark Selby SF

Northern Ireland Open 2018 – Ronnie gets to the Final

Ronnie won an absolute cracker of a match against Mark Selby yesterday afternoon. This was, in my opinion, the best match of the season so far. He’s now in the Final where he will play Judd Trump over two sessions, best of 17.

NIOpen2018ROSSF-Scores

Here is the report on Worldsnooker:

NIOpen2018ROSSF-Result

Ronnie O’Sullivan came through a dramatic deciding frame to beat Mark Selby 6-5 in a classic semi-final at the BetVictor Northern Ireland Open in Belfast.

The pair have become accustomed to doing battle on the sport’s grandest stages, having contested finals against each other in all three of the Triple Crown events. However, this was their first clash for almost two years. They last crossed cues in the 2016 UK Championship final where Selby won 10-7.

The wait was worthwhile, with both players producing a match of supreme standard and high drama this afternoon.

Selby claimed the first frame, but the Rocket responded immediately. Five-time World Champion O’Sullivan took to the front with back-to-back century runs of 135 and 114, before Selby reeled him in with a break of 92 to make it 2-2 at the mid-session.

They continued to trade big breaks when they returned. Contributions of 87 and 112 saw O’Sullivan move 4-2 in front. The Jester pulled one back, before the Rocket claimed the eighth frame and re-established his two-frame lead at 5-3.

The three-time Crucible king Selby then showed his big match steel, making a break of 72 to keep his hopes alive going into what proved to be a tense tenth frame. It came down to the final red, where the pair contested a safety battle until O’Sullivan went in-off. Selby pounced on the opportunity, firing home a fine long red and clearing to force a decider.

Both players had opportunities to take the final frame, with each of them breaking down by missing a black off the spot. It once again came down to the final red and things looked to be going Selby’s way, with O’Sullivan trapped in a difficult snooker. He missed it three-times, before fluking the fourth attempt and clearing with 32 to win on the final black.

O’Sullivan said: “I’ve had some stinkers against Mark over the years and he has had some stinkers against me. Sometimes you collide and both play well. Today was one of those days. You have seen me play a few good matches and some not so great. Nobody knows what they are going to get from one day to the next. That is the mystery of this game.

“Mark looked really dangerous around the balls. He still has all the nous around the table and all of the presence. He, alongside John Higgins, has the best bottle in the game.”

Despite the agonising nature of the defeat Selby was in an upbeat mood about his form heading into the upcoming UK Championship.

“I’ve been playing well all week, so I have a lot of positives to take. I just have to go back to the practice table and look forward to the UK Championship,” said Selby. “To compete with Ronnie when he played as well as that shows where my game is at.”

 

The only thing I’d like to add is that, yes Ronnie fluked the last red of the match, escaping from a tough snooker … that was itself the result of a huge fluke. So the player are even there!

Both players gave it their absolute best and this match is the best advert the sport could get. It had everything and was played in great spirit as well.

Here are the reaction of the players, and Stephen Hendry, shortly after the match

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And a few great images thanks to Tai Chengzhe once again.

 

and a short review before the second SF

Plus two interviews:

Some bizarre questions ion that second one…

As for the match today, Ronnie suggested that he may need to wear a crash helmet the way Judd Trump is banging the balls in. Trump has looked unstoppable in patches, but yesterday, when Eden Sharav was coming back at him he clearly wobbled for a while. So the keys for Ronnie today will be to let him get too far in front and manage to put him under pressure.

As for the race to the Grand Prix, Ronnie is now ranked 21 and looks fairly safe.

 

Northern Ireland Open 2018 – Ronnie v Mark Selby in the semi finals

Ronnie booked his place in the semi finals by beating David Gilbert by 5-2 yesterday evening. It wasn’t a great performance by any means, despite some good breaks.

NIOpen 2018 ROS QF Scores

The problem mainly was that Ronnie needed to capitalise on his opponent errors. He never was the one creating  the occasions for himself. Ronnie was  very critical of his own performance after the match.

Here is the report on Worldsnooker

(excerpt)

NIOpen2018ROSQF-1Ronnie O’Sullivan defeated David Gilbert 5-2 to set up a blockbuster semi-final clash with Mark Selby at the BetVictor Northern Ireland Open in Belfast.

O’Sullivan secured this evening’s victory with breaks of 51, 83, 102, 75 and 85 which ensured his progression to face three-time World Champion Selby tomorrow afternoon at 1pm.

The O’Sullivan and Selby rivalry has seen the pair do battle in the final of all three of snooker’s Triple Crown events and is arguably the most prominent clash in the sport today.

The Rocket holds the upper hand in their head-to-head record, leading 13-9. However, they haven’t faced each other on the World Snooker Tour in almost two years. Their most recent meeting came in the 2016 UK Championship final, where the Jester from Leicester won 10-7 to take home the title.

Following today’s match five-time World Champion O’Sullivan said: “I remember when I was playing against people like Stephen Hendry when he was number one and you have to just give it your all. It doesn’t get any tougher than playing Mark Selby in a semi-final, but that is what you practise for and what you look forward to.”

Ronnie was in the studio in the afternoon for the preview of the Mark Selby v Thepchaiya Un-nooh clash

Here is the coverage of his own match v David Gilbert:

Big thanks to Tai Chengzhe for these images

I’m not particularly optimistic regarding today’s match, although Mark Selby himself made his fair share of mistakes yesterday. There is one important thing that yesterday’s win brought though is that Ronnie is now ranked 28 in the race to the World Grand Prix. He still needs a decent performance in the UK Championship and the Sottish Open to secure his position, but it’s likely now that he will qualify for the first ITV ranking event in February.

 

Northern Ireland Open 2018 – Day 4 – L32 and L16

Day 4 in the Home Nations series is always a bit hectic with two rounds to complete.

The last 32 round went essentially the way most would have expected, with one massive exception: Li Hang beat Neil Robertson by 4-0, Neil making a telling impact in just one frame, the second, where he scored 52 points. There is no Worldsnooker report on this round.

I didn’t see much of that round, other than the main table matches, so I can’t really commentate on the results. However it’s worth noting the good performances of Eden Sharav, Peter Ebdon and Robin Hull. OK, Robin was beaten in a deciding frame by Ryan Day, but this is a man who said that this season would be his last because of the health issues he’s suffering. A few weeks ago, he looked barely able to hold his cue. Peter Ebdon is another one who hinted that he could retire at the end of the season, because of pains in his back. Clearly they both want to make this season count. They have pride in their sport and it’s great to see. As for Eden, I was very impressed when I first saw him play, as an amateur, at SWSA, six or seven years ago. As a pro he hadn’t really been doing his talent justice until this season, but he seems to be doing that now.

The last 16 round saw both Eden Sharav and Peter Ebdon progress further. It’s Eden first quarter final in a ranking event today. Eden beat Ali Carter to get there and that’s a serious scalp.

The Mark Selby v Hamza Akbar match was a complete mismatch. Selby, being World n°1 has the right to be on television, but it didn’t make for good viewing.

Here is the report by Worldsnooker on the L16 round:

World number one Mark Selby clinched his place in the quarter-finals of the BetVictor Northern Ireland Open, after defeating Martin O’Donnell 4-2 in Belfast.

The three-time World Champion has been in fine form this week, having breezed through all three matches prior to tonight, only dropping one frame in the process. However, O’Donnell provided a sterner test this evening.

The world number 60 claimed the opening frame on a respotted black. From there Selby took charge with breaks of 63, 66 and 81 to move 3-1 in front. That proved to be an unassailable advantage as Selby progressed to book a quarter-final meeting with Thepchaiya Un-Nooh.

“I feel good. In patches I still played alright there. Martin has had a good season so far,” said Selby. “Thepchaiya is one of the most talented players on tour and one of the quickest as well. He is very dangerous and should have done better in his career than he has so far.”

Un-Nooh produced a phenomenal display to dispatch Robbie Williams 4-0 in just 37 minutes. The Thai rapidly fired in breaks of 138, 104, 99 and 65 to romp to victory. Incredibly, he averaged just 14 seconds a shot during the game.

Ronnie O’Sullivan came through 4-1 against young Chinese star Zhou Yuelong to secure his quarter-final spot.

The Rocket has been adopting an approach of all-out attack this weekand it has paid off thus far, he’s dropped only two frames. Five-time World Champion O’Sullivan compiled breaks of 58, 83 and 132 on his way to this evening’s win. Up next he faces David Gilbert, who downed Lu Ning 4-0.

Judd Trump came through with a hard fought 4-2 victory against Belgium’s Luca Brecel. The scores were locked at 2-2 when the Ace in the Pack accumulated 316 points without reply to seal the win. He will meet Ryan Day tomorrow, after the Welshman beat Andrew Higginson 4-0.

Eden Sharav secured his first ever appearance in a ranking event quarter-final after coming from 3-1 down to beat Ali Carter 4-3. That leaves world number 18 Carter just the UK Championship to force his way into the top 16 in the Race to the Masters.

Sharav will now face Peter Ebdon for a spot in the last four, after the 2002 World Champion defeated Li Hang 4-1.

Luca Brecel has played better in this event than he has for a very long time. He still lost to Judd Trump who looks impressive. I have a feeling that the comments made about Kyren Wilson possibly becoming a World Champion before he does have really fired him up. I’m curious to see what happens from here, in particular if he comes to meet Peter Ebdon in the SF.

You can readd all about Ronnie’s two matches yesterday here.

Northern Ireland Open 2018 – Ronnie books his place in the QF

Two rounds are played today as the 32 become 8. Ronnie won his two matches today and is now in the quarter finals where he will play David Gilbert.

In his first match today, Ronnie beat Tom Ford by 4-0.

NIOpen2018ROSL32-Result

Ronnie played well in that match but not exceptionally well. However, there were no signs of taking things casually this time: he was focused and solid.

Here are a few images of this match, thanks to Tai Chengzhe

Ronnie’s mood after the match was clearly more positive than before it. Despite some misses, he feels that his game is coming together, which is good news with the UK Championship coming next.

In the second match of the day Ronnie beat Zhou Yuelong by 4-1.

 Thanks to Tai Chegzhe again

In this match Ronnie appeared fully focused. As David Hendon said in commentary he had his “match head” on, and he needed to because Zhou Yuelong is a very capable young player. If in the previous match one could sense that at a point Tom Ford felt beaten, Zhou stayed positive and fighting throughout.

Zhou won the first frame with an excellent clearance after Ronnie missed the last red, playing with the rest cueing awkwardly over the brown. Ronnie played very solidly overall, brilliantly at times. When he made mistakes, he was clearly annoyed with himself, which was good to see. He even banged his head against the table in frustration at one point. But he applied himself from start to finish. The finish BTW was quite extraordinary. After Ronnie missed the black after the 14th red, it seemed for all the world that Zhou was going to clear for 3-2. However, a bad position on the last pink meant that he was not able to pot it. At that state he was leading by one point, meaning that if he potted the pink, Ronnie could only tie. A short battle followed and Ronnie was given a chance on the pink, a very difficult pink. Ronnie potted it, not seeking position on the black.  As a result he was left with a very tricky pot to a middle pocket or a difficult safety … you guess what happened.

It was a very good match actually, and enjoyable too. Ronnie added to his tally of centuries as well, with a great 132 in frame 4.

As you can hear Ronnie was very positive after the match. He feels that his work with Sightrigh is starting to pay off and that he’s more in control of his shots than he used to be.

Here is Ronnie’s postmatch with the sponsor:

and talking China, and expectations for the future

Northern Ireland Open 2018 – last 64 round-up

The last 64 round was played in Belfast yesterday and saw the departure of the defending Champion, Mark Williams who was defeated by Ali Carter.

The pundits discuss rivalry, dominating the sport, winning the world championship, and preview the defending Champion match.

here is the report on Worldsnooker:

Ronnie O’Sullivan put on a display of aggressive snooker in his 4-1 win over Mei Xiwen on day three of the BetVictor Northern Ireland Open in Belfast.

The Rocket has already pledged to keep his shot-time down as low as possible this week on social media and he lived up to that promise today, averaging just 14.7 seconds per visit.

The match was characterised by O’Sullivan taking the attacking play at every opportunity. He also adopted an unorthodox breakoff style, trying to hit the opposite side of the pack between the blue and the pink. On one occasion that backfired with the Rocket catching the blue on the way down (watch here).

The attacking approach to the encounter paid off in terms of the result, with the five-time World Champion securing a comfortable victory, making breaks of 119 and 54 along the way.

“Seven matches in a tournament is like a marathon or an ironman,” said O’Sullivan. “The winning line is a long way away. I get interested at the last 16 stage or the quarter-finals. Until that comes I am just going to go for everything in sight, try to be creative and try to have fun. I shouldn’t really change my game no matter what. The aim is to have fun.”

Ali Carter beat defending Northern Ireland Open champion and current World Champion Mark Williams 4-3.

The Captain trailed 3-1, but overhauled Williams’ lead to secure what could prove to be a crucial win. Carter is currently ranked 18th in the world and has just the remainder of this week’s event and the UK Championship left to move into the top 16 and clinch a place at the Masters in January.

Judd Trump stormed to an impressive 4-0 win over Stuart Carrington in just 45 minutes.

Trump produced a thrilling display and compiled breaks of 137, 53, 55, 51 and 69 as he booked his place in the last 32.

World number one Mark Selby was in fine touch as he eased past recent European Masters champion Jimmy Robertson 4-0. While Neil Robertson battled back from 3-0 down to defeat Norway’s Kurt Maflin 4-3.

Not mention by Worldsnooker – despite snooker being described as a “land of opportunities” by Barry Hearn (*) – Chris Totten, BIlly Joe Castle, Hamza Akbar, Hamad Mia and Sanderson Lam, all ranked lower than 90th, reached the last 32 yesterday. Well done to them. However…

Chris Totten for instance has played 10 matches this season, having entered 8 events. Ronnie has played 16, having entered 4 events, and Kyren Wilson has played 39 having entered 10 events, 2 being invitational. If the way to create “opportunities” is to exhaust the top players with a mad schedule, and have us believe there is strength in dept because they come at a stage where they are barely standing … yes then it is a land of opportunities and a dreamland for the bookies.

You can read all about Ronnie’s strange performance yesterday here