Shanghai Masters 2019 – Ronnie kicks-off his season with a win!

Ronnie played his first match of the season tonight in Shanghai (afternoon in Europe).

He beat Zhang Yi by 6-0, in one hour and thirthy-two seconds.

Shanghai Masters 2019 ROS Last 16

As you can see, Ronnie scored heavily and finished with two centuries. He currently shares the tournament high break, 136, with Shaun Murphy.

Ronnie looked very sharp in the balls. He was very focused and didn’t take any liberties against his amateur opponent. The only slightly weaker aspect was his long potting. He left a few opportunities to his opponent but whenever Zhang missed or lost position, Ronnie took his chance and converted it in a telling break.

Zhang who had beaten Ali Carter yesterday adopted an all attacking approach, spreading the reds at first opportunity. The problem for him was that he couldn’t finish the job in one visit. Once Ronnie was in, it was basically frame over.

After the match Ronnie had a lot of time for the fans, staying in the arena and signing tickets and pictures. There was a big crowd for his match and they were treated with some very good snooker.

Here are some great pictures courtesy of Tai Chengzhe. Thanks Tai!

 

This is the report by Worldsnooker (excerpt)

Shanghai2019ROSL16-7

Ronnie O’Sullivan got his season up and running with a 6-0 whitewash of amateur Zhang Yi at the Shanghai Masters.

The Rocket hasn’t lost in Shanghai for over three years after winning the title in 2017 and 2018. O’Sullivan pocketed £200,000 for his victory last year, when the event transitioned to the 24-player format which saw it become the most lucrative invitation event in snooker.

There were few signs of ring rust this evening as the five-time World Champion powered to victory with a top score of 136.

O’Sullivan recently lost his world number one spot to current Crucible king Judd Trump. However, he feels his longevity sets him apart from his rivals down the years.

O’Sullivan said: “I’ve been at the top of the game for 26 years. For the last nine or ten years I have been the leading player every season along with other players. Selby in the past, last year it was Trump. Other years it has been Higgins and Williams.

“My longevity has been pretty good. I wouldn’t say I am the best in all departments, but I am efficient in most. There are a lot of tournaments up for grabs this year, but also a lot of great players. It should be an exciting season.”

He will face Kyren Wilson in the last eight after the Kettering potter saw off the challenge of Xiao Guodong 6-4.

Here is the match …

Ronnie OSullivan Vs Zhang Yi Full Match- Shanghai Masters 2019 Last 16 from Talya on Vimeo.

And Ronnie’s postmatch  reaction

 

Shanghai Masters 2019 – Preview update after round 1

Round 1 of the Shanghai Masters just concluded, with a couple of really unexpected results. So, here is a short update of my preview.

Ronnie will face Zhang Yi tonight in China after the Chinese wildcard beat Ali Carter. On paper, Ronnie should have a staightforward passage to the next round. “On paper” is never a guarantee though as his defeat to James Cahill last April proved. But I’m reasonably confident. Ronnie seems to be in a good place and Zhang Yi is likely to be a bit overawed by the circumstances.

Thanks to Mark, we can now watch the full “left handed” practice…

Another factor is that Ronnie tends to get bored and homesick when away for a long time. But, if the first part of this video is anything to go by, that won’t happen this time. He might be a bit distracted though…

Kyren Wilson will face Xiao Guodong in the last 16. Xiao is a good player but he’s not  Stephen Maguire on form. Kyren has now a much better chance to progress to the quarter final than I expected at the start of the tournament.

John Higgins will play Barry Hawkins, who was impressive. If Barry plays the way he did in the first round, he’s certainly capable to upset John Higgins. Both of them are excellent all-rounders.

I still stand by the other predictions. In particular, if Ding plays exhibition style like he did against Zhao Jianbo, he is a risk to be completely outplayed by Neil Robertson who usually doesn’t need too many chances.

 

Shanghai Masters 2019 – Day 1

Those were my predictions. How did I do?

It all started rather as I expected. In the morning session, Shaun Murphy beat Lyu Haotian by 6-1 and Jack Lisowski beat Wu Yize by the same score. Actually both matches were more one-sided than I expected. Both Shaun and Jack scored heavily, both had four breaks over 50. Shaun’s 135 is currently the highest break of the tournament. Wu Yize actually had two 50+ breaks himself – a 57 and a 76 – yet he won only one frame. The 57 came in frame 2, a frame he lost 67-57, and losing that frame seemed to have a huge demoralising effect on the young Wu. Lyu Haotian appeared fragile out there. I wonder if he will ever recover from his disastrous first experience on the main tour.

The afternoon session brought the first surprise of the day as Zhang Yi beat Ali Carter quite comfortably. Carter had looked strong at the start, scoring a 117 in the first frame. However it was 2-2 at the MSI. After the MSI Ali won only one frame, conceded a frame 36 behind with 35 on the table and in general looked disgrunted and bored. Zhang took advantage and all credit to him. In the other afternoon match, Barry Hawkins beat Yan Bingtao by 6-5 and this was an excellent match. Both players played well. They had nine breaks over 50 between them – six by Barry, three by Yan – including two centuries, one each.

Here is the decider between Barry and Yan. It went to the last balls:

Ahead of the evening session, there was the official “Opening Ceremony” attended by Chinese officials, Jason Ferguson, Yan Bingtao and Ronnie. Here are a few images shared on weibo:

The evening session brought another “surprise” when Xiao Guodong comprehensively beat Stephen Maguire by 6-2. Xiao played well and scored heavily: he had six breaks over 50, including a century to finish the match. He was helped by a rather apathic display from his opponent. I didn’t expect this, given the way Stephen had played in Bangkok. I should have known better. I completely forgot the “wild post victory celebrations aftermath” factor. 😉 Frankly Stephen looked like a man who had quite a few over the last couple of days and nights… The other match saw Ding Junhui beat his wildcard opponent, Zhao Jianbo, very easily. Ding was playing the way he would in an exhibition, taking spectacular shots, to the delight of the crowd. Zhao’s potting was decent, but he has a lot to learn in the tactical department, and he was probably a bit intimidated.

here is the report by Worldsnooker

Shaun Murphy might have been feeling Goofy after injuring his leg while dancing with his son to Disney’s Greatest Hits, but he sill managed to score a 6-1 win over Lyu Haotian in the first round of the Shanghai Masters.

And this is no Micky Mouse event – it’s snooker’s most lucrative invitation tournament with total prize money of £751,000 up for grabs. Murphy is through to the last 16 to face Mark Williams on Tuesday.

Breaks of 79, 83, 135 and 55 helped world number 14 Murphy to an emphatic win over China’s Lyu. England’s Murphy enjoyed a return to form at last month’s International Championship, reaching the final before losing to Judd Trump, and still looks in fine shape despite his recent mishap.

“We were having Sunday dinner at home, me and (three-year-old) Harry were dancing around the lounge to Disney’s Great Hits,” explained Murphy. “I felt something go in my leg. I thought for a minute I had snapped my Achilles tendon, but the doctor later told me if I had done that I would have gone down like a sack of spuds.

“He said I might well have partially torn it and he advised me to rest it as much as possible, so I sat in the house for two weeks, doing my wife’s brain in! I had to pull out of the Paul Hunter Classic and I was relieved to be able to get back to the table last week for a few days. It’s not ideal preparation but I’m glad to be here and to get a win under my belt today.”

Barry Hawkins edged out Riga Masters champion Yan Bingtao 6-5 to earn a match with John Higgins. Hawkins came from 4-2 and 5-4 down to level at 5-5, setting up a tense deciding frame in which both players missed chances. It came down to the last five balls and last year’s runner-up Hawkins made a fine green-to-black clearance to snatch victory.

Wild card Zhang Yi, winner of the Amateur Shanghai Masters tournament, scored a surprise 6-3 win over Ali Carter to set up a meeting with defending champion Ronnie O’Sullivan on Tuesday. It will be O’Sullivan’s first match since losing in the first round of the World Championship in April.

Stephen Maguire may have gone into this week’s event on a high having won the Six Red World Championship on Saturday, but he didn’t stay in it long as he went down 6-2 to Xiao Guodong, who fired runs of 50, 69, 88, 70, 57 and 100.

Home favourite Ding Junhui came from 1-0 down to beat Zhao Jianbo 6-2 with a top break of 71, while Jack Lisowski top scored with 81 in a 6-1 defeat of Wu Yize.

And Ronnie shared a short video of his “left handed practice session”

Shanghai Masters 2019 – A preview

The Shanghai Masters 2019 starts in a few hours …

This evening in China, the draw was finalized as the for wilcards were drawn against their professional opponents.

ShanghaiMastersDraw

The pros …

Ronnie is the defending champion. He has not played competitively since the disastrous first round in Sheffield last April. He looked in decent form during the exhibition in Huizhou, and I’m certain he’s been practicing, but he won’t be match sharp. That said, last year he came to Shanghai in a similar situation – it was his first event of the season – and he managed to win it. As usual … he’s unpredictable.

Ali Carter could be Ronnie’s opponent. Until now this season, Ali has been largely unconvincing. In main tour 15-reds competition he has won four matches, lost three, including the last one against Alex Ursenbacher. He has not beaten a top player. Playing Ronnie however always seems to trigger a surge of extra motivation. I still expect Ronnie to win if they meet.

Kyren Wilson is another player whose form is uncertain. He has won 7 of his 9 matches on the 15 reds main tour this season but Luca Brecel is the only top player he has beaten, and Luca has done nothing in recent times. In the International Championship he was beaten in the last 32 by Tom Ford. I’m not expecting him to go very far here, especially if he plays Stephen Maguire in the last 16.

Stephen Maguire has just won the Six-Reds World Championship in Bangkok. Earlier in the season he didn’t really impress, but in Thailand he looked very sharp. I expect him to reach at least the quarter finals.

Xiao Guodong has won 4 of the 6 main tour 15-reds matches. However, the only top player he faced is Ding who beat him comprehensively: 6-1. Generally, Xiao has not been great under pressure in front of the Chinese audience and there will be pressure here. The format shows that this is meant to be a showcase event for Chinese snooker. There will be expectations. I would be surprised if he beats Maguire.

John Higgins looked sharp in Bangkok where he reached the final. In 15-reds main tour events he won 4 of the 5 matches he played but he didn’t play any top player and was beaten convincingly by Graeme Dott (6-2) in the International Championship. He will face either Yan Bingtao or Barry Hawkins. I think it’s 50/50 whether he will progress or not.

Barry Hawkins had a slow start of the season losing early in Riga and in the International Championship. But then it transpired than he was playing with damaged ribs and under a lot of pain. His next outing was the Paul Hunter Classic, where he beat Gary Wilson, Mark King, Joe Perry and, finally, Kyren Wilson to win the title. I expect Barry to beat his first opponent Yan Bingtao, and to give John Higgins a though challenge … he could well beat him too.

Yan Bingtao has won the Riga Masters, the first (full) event of the season. He has won 9 of the 10 15-reds main tour matches he’s played. His only defeat came against Shaun Murphy, and Shaun is actually the only top 16 opponent he faced this season in 15-reds snooker. In the six-reds World Championship, he was beaten by 5-0 by John Higgins. Take into account the pressure of expectations here in Shanghai and it doesn’t look very promising for Yan. But… you never know. He’s a fighter.

Neil Robertson has only played in the International Championship – where he was narrowly beaten by Shaun Murphy in the last 16 – and in the China Championship qualifiers. He has won 4 matches, lost 1. Neil has been scoring heavily in those matches but was nevertheless taken to a decider by Ricky Walden, and Gerard Greene, hardly a world beater, took him three frames in their best of 9 China Championship match. He’s likely to play Ding in the last 16. The good news for Neil is that Ding plays an open game but I expect Ding to come here very well prepared. I still make Neil favourite.

Ding Junhui has won 4 of his 5 15-reds main tour matches. His only defeat came against Mark Allen (6-3) in the International Championship. Amazingly, Ding has played against Chinese opponents three times out of five matches. Other than Mark Allen, his only non Chinese opponent was Simon Lichtenberg … who took him to a decider. I’m sure that Ding has prepared well, but the expectations on him will be huge and Neil Robertson might be too much to take.

Mark Williams has won 4 of the 6 15-reds main tour matches he has played, but he hasn’t played any top player and got beaten by Luo Honghao (4-1) and Jak Jones (6-2). That’s not great. In Bangkok last week he looked much better though. All the same, Mark has not been the player he was in the 2017/18 season since he won the 2018 World Championship… too much celebrations! He will probably face Shaun Murphy in the last 16 and, should this happen, I definitely fancy Shaun to beat him.

Shaun Murphy had a horrendous season in 2018/19. His only “telling” tournament so far this season was the International Championship and he reached the final. He was outplayed by Judd Trump (10-3), but en route he had beaten Mark Allen and Neil Robertson. I expect Shaun to do well in Shanghai.

Lyu Haotian has won 3 out of 5 matches this season. He played only one top player, Luca Brecel, which frankly doesn’t mean anything currently. I don’t think Lyu will have what it takes to beat his first opponent, Shaun Murphy.

Mark Selby has not been the same players since he won the 2017 World Championship. This season however, in 15-reds main tour competition he has won 6 of the 8 matches he played, notably beating Gary Wilson and David Gilbert in the International Championship. He was outplayed by Judd Trump in the semi final though (9-4). Mark is playing well but a little something is missing and his confidence can’t be high. He will face either Jack Lisowski or Wu Yize. That will probably suit him. Both are very attacking and prone to the unexpected error. Neither are particularly good in tactical play. Mark should progress.

Jack Lisowski has all the talent in the world, is a much improved player but still finds it hard to beat the top opponents. He has not played any top player yet this season and has won 5 out of 7 matches. I expect him to beat his first opponent, Wu Yize, who will be under a lot of pressure, but he can’t afford to take him lightly. Wu this season has taken John Higgins to a decider. I really like Jack, and I wish to be wrong, but I can’t see him beating Mark Selby.

Mark Allen has won 6 of the 7 matches he’s played this season. He has beaten Ding Junhui and Ali Carter but came short against Shaun Murphy in the International Championship semi finals (9-6). He’s in good form and has a great record in China. He’s one of the favourites in my eyes. He will first meet Stuart Bingham or Liang Wenbo. Whoever he faces, I expect Mark to win this match.

Stuart Bingham has only won 2 of the 5 15-reds main tour matches he played. The last defeat came at the hands of Jordan Brown. I’m not expecting much from Stuart in Shanghai. I’m not sure he’ll pass the first round actually.

Liang Wenbo is Stuart’s first opponent. Liang is very popular in China. He will have the crowd on his side, which can help him, if he plays well, or put him under pressure if he struggles. Liang has won 3 of the 5 matches he’s played, but lost the last one, against Mitchell Mann a rather methodical player. Stuart Bingham style should suit him better though. I slightly favour Liang in their match but only so slightly…

Judd Trump has to be the favourite to win the tournament. He’s the reigning World Champion and has won the only tournament he’s entered this season: the International Championship. He was unplayable in the longer matches. He has not played competititively since nearly a month. He will probably face David Gilbert first. I think that this match will be important for the rest of the tournament, and the season. If David Gilbert can run him close – or even win it – it will plant a few seeds of doubts in Judd’s mind. The game Judd is playing currently is a confidence based game, just like Hendry’s was. Break/crack that confidence and he’s “human” again…

David Gilbert is a much improved player, he deserves to be in the top 16. He had an “average start” of the season but played well in Bangkok. Does he have what it takes to beat Judd Trump? I doubt it. But you never know… I hope that David can at least give Judd a good game.

The wildcards…

I can’t really comment on them but I trust Lewis (comments section) who knows the Chinese players very well. Lewis doesn’t give any of them much chances. They will be under huge pressure in unchartered teritory.

And finally a few images shared on social by Worldsnooker, Jason Ferguson and on weibo of tonight welcome ceremony:

Stephen Maguire wins the Six-Reds 2019 World Championship

Congratulations Stephen Maguire!

He beat John Higgins by 8 frames to 6, in a quality final. It’s Maguire’s first individual title in five years. Quite baffling for a player of his quality really.

Here is the report on Worldsnooker:

Stephen Maguire six reds champion 2019Stephen Maguire won a tartan tussle against John Higgins 8-6 in the final of the SangSom Six Red World Championship to win the title for the second time in Bangkok.

It’s a first individual title for world number 15 Maguire since he won the 2014 Lisbon Open. He also won the Six Red title earlier that year.

In an exciting final, Glasgow’s 38-year-old Maguire pulled away from 6-6 to win the last two frames, taking the trophy and top prize of four million Baht (£106,000) at the invitation event in the Thai capital.

It’s his second title of the season as he teamed up with 44-year-old Higgins to win the World Cup for Scotland in China in June. This time the two friends and practice partners went head to head, with Higgins playing in the Six Red final for the first time.

Six Reds 2019 actionMaguire took an early 3-0 lead before world number five Higgins stormed back with four frames in a row. Frame eight went to Maguire and he nicked the ninth on the black to lead 5-4.

He won the tenth as well then squandered a clear chance in the 11th, missing a red to a centre pocket. Four time World Champion Higgins cleared the table then made a break of 58 in the 12th to level at 6-6.

With the match in the balance, Maguire made a vital break of 39 to regain the lead at 7-6. And he got the better of a tense 14th frame, the score 34-18, to secure the title.

“It feels good, I was very lucky,” said Maguire. “I’d like to thank the sponsor and promoter for putting on the tournament. All of the boys enjoy this, everyone loves coming out to Thailand.”

All results are on snooker.org

Aside of the tournament proper, there was a six-reds exhibition between two legends of the game: Stephen Hendry and James Wattana. My understanding is that Hendry won by 3-2.

Update! I was wrong! It’s James Wattana who won. This comes from Instagram:

Hendry Instagram - 7.9.2019

The Thai MC, Twitah Warintrakom, a legend himself, told me that the decider was played with 15 reds to entertain the audience, and shared a few pictures on social media:

It’s fair to say that people turned up for it! Stephen Hendry – who was used to being hated for beating Jimmy White more often than not, and winning “too much” –  is now hugely popular! Well it’s nice that! And it’s nice as well that Stephen now seems to enjoy life to the full. His posts on social media are mainly about fine wines, premium cigars and food (plenty of it!).

As for Twitah,  he also posted those two images side by side

… taken 26 years apart! They haven’t changed a bit, innit?

And here is the exhibition. Big thanks to Silvry!

Six-Reds World Championship 2019 – Semi Finals

It is John Higgins v Stephen Maguire in the Final today in Bangkok.

Here is how we got there (Worldsnooker):

John Higgins will take on Stephen Maguire in an all-Scottish final at the SangSom Six Red World Championship on Saturday.

Higgins beat Mark Williams 7-5 in the semi-finals in Bangkok on Friday, then Maguire saw off Gary Wilson by the same scoreline.

Higgins and Maguire, close friends and practice partners, joined forces in June to win the World Cup for Scotland in China, but this time they will go head to head for the top prize of four million Baht (over £100,000)  at the invitation event in the Thai capital. Higgins is aiming to win the title for the first time, while Maguire lifted the trophy in 2014.

The battle between Williams and Higgins was a repeat of the 2018 World Championship final. Welshman Williams came out on top that time, and he won the opening frame today, but Higgins then took control as he surged 5-2 ahead with top breaks of 61 and 65.

The next two frames were shared to leave the score at 6-3. Williams threatened a fight back as he took the next two, closing to 6-5, but 44-year-old Higgins dominated frame 12 to seal victory.

Maguire trailed Wilson 3-2 then took four of the next five to lead 6-4. Crucible semi-finalist Wilson pulled one back before 38-year-old Maguire clinched the result in frame 12.

The final starts at 2.30pm local time (8.30am UK time) with first to eight frames to take the trophy.

The Higgins v Williams match was a good one. Very tactical in spells, but with good breaks too as both players were scoring heavily when in.

The Wilson v Maguire match was a bit more scrappy.

You can see the detailed scores on snooker.org

This line-up is good news for Reanne Evans and Jimmy White as both finalists have already qualified for the Champion of Champions. One more “repeat” and Reanne gets a spot in the CoC. Jimmy White must hope for two, which is entirely possible.

As for Ronnie, he’s on a mission to make us feel hungry

Also, new exhibitions have been announced, including one in Romania. Check here.

Six-Reds World Championship 2019, Day 4

Two rounds were played yesterday in Bangkok: the last 16 and the quarter-finals

Worldsnooker however only reported on the QF

John Higgins defeated David Gilbert 6-4 to reach the last four of the SangSom Six Red World Championship in Bangkok.

The last time the pair met was in a dramatic Crucible semi-final back in May, when 30-time ranking event winner Higgins battled back to take a nerve shredding final frame decider and win 17-16.

On this occasion it was Gilbert who surged back into contention. He had trailed Higgins 5-2, before winning two on the bounce to close the gap to one. However, Higgins edged over the line on the colours in a hard fought tenth frame to progress 6-4.

Higgins is aiming for a maiden Six Red world title this week, but he will now have to overcome the 2017 winner of the event Mark Williams in the last four if he is to keep his bid alive.

Williams, who beat Thepchaiya Un-Nooh 8-2 in the final two years ago, defeated six-time ranking event winner Stuart Bingham 6-3 to ensure his progression.

Welshman Williams led the tie 4-0, having made a break of 63 in the process. Bingham responded by taking three of the next four frames, including breaks of 70 and 72, to cut his arrears and stay in touch at 5-3. However, Williams finished off the match to earn his place in the semis.

2014 Six Red World Champion Stephen Maguire secured his place in the semis with a 6-2 win over Ali Carter. Scotland’s Maguire clinched the title five years ago in Bangkok after coming through a deciding frame to beat Ricky Walden 8-7 in the final.

His opponent in the last four this year will be world number 19 Gary Wilson, who came from 5-4 down to beat Asian number one Ding Junhui 6-5.

Both semi-finals will take place tomorrow, with the final being contested on Saturday. The winner will take home a top prize of 3.5 million Baht.

All results are available on snooker.org

Regarding the last 16, most matches were close but Stuart Bingham gave Mark Selby a bit of a beating! Kyren Wilson’s defence came to an end at the hands of David Gilbert. There was a typical Jimmy White heartbreak aswell: he lead Stephen Maguire by 5-4, only to lose in a decider.  Wu Yize again gave John Higgins a good game. The second streamed match was – understandably – featuring the last Thai player standing, Passakorn Suwannawat. He faced Ali Carter and it was probably the less interesting match of the whole lot – for us in Europe at least…

Tomorrow, both semi finals will be on the main table. Mark Williams will face John Higgins. 2018 World Final anyone? Stephen Maguire will play Gary Wilson. Both matches should be good!

As for Ronnie … he visited the Huizhou Middle School, before heading to Shanghai. And he paid a visit to some ladies (no! It’s not what you think! If you follow cue sports you should recognise at least one of them)

Ronnie & Alli Fisher