2023 German Masters Qualifiers – Days 1 and 2

Six players booked their place at the Tempodrom yesterday: Zhao Xintong, Anthony McGill, Tom Ford, Tian Pengfei and Sam Craigie.

This is the report by WST:

Zhao Secures Berlin Return

Defending champion Zhao Xintong will be in Berlin for the final stages of the 2023 BetVictor German Masters, after defeating Pakistan’s Muhammad Asif 5-1 in the last round of qualifying.

China’s Zhao emphatically won the title earlier this year, beating compatriot and close friend Yan Bingtao 9-0 in the final to get his hands on the Brandon Parker Trophy.

Zhao made breaks of 71, 108, 102 and 58 on his way to this afternoon’s victory over Asif. The 2021 UK Champion needed just 69 minutes to wrap up the win, averaging a rapid 15.4 seconds a shot.

Anthony McGill stormed to a spot in the final stages with a 5-0 demolition of Allan Taylor. Former Crucible semi-finalist McGill dropped just a single frame during the qualifying process, having recorded a 5-1 defeat of Jamie O’Neill yesterday. This afternoon’s tie saw two-time ranking event winner McGill compose breaks of 73, 58, 96 and 61 en route to victory.

Tom Ford earned a trip to Berlin with a 5-1 defeat of 1997 World Champion Ken Doherty. Ford continues his fine form, which saw him make the semi-finals of last week’s UK Championship.

Sam Craigie also carried his momentum from York, where he made the UK Championship quarter-finals. Craigie beat Jamie Clarke 5-2 to make the final stages.

Former European Masters winner Jimmy Robertson progressed with a 5-2 win over Jak Jones, while Tian Pengfei beat Michael White 5-2 to qualify.

The evening saw one of the shocks of the season so far, with tour rookie Peng Yisong defeating four-time World Champion Mark Selby 5-4. A steely break of 72 in the decider saw Peng move one match from the final stages. He faces Ian Burns up next.

In the morning session, some of snooker’s big names booked places in the final round of qualifying. Newly crowned UK Champion Mark Allen beat Peter Lines 5-2, Neil Robertson defeated Bai Langning 5-2 and Yan Bingtao scored a 5-2 victory against Rod Lawler.

Zhao fell short in his defence of his UK Championship title, exiting the competition early, but he played really well yesterday. Asif’s game probably suited him. Both attack and play an open game. They provided a fast entertaining match.

I don’t like the way the word “shock” is over-used in sport but Peng beating Selby, and beating him in a deciding frame, was totally unexpected. Peng is not the most fancied of the young Chinese players but he is improving. This win can only boost his confidence and motivation. Mark Selby looks happier than he was last season but his game is not in great shape at the moment, to say the least.

The other surprise yesterday was Jimmy White’s 5-3 win over Mark Joyce. This currently brings Jimmy to the 4th place in the season’s “one year rescue lost”.

On Monday, we had a couple of “mild” surprise results as Sam Craigie demolished Stephen Maguire by 5-2 and Michael White beat Ryan Day by 5-3. We also had two matches that really went to the wire. Jak Jones beat Lyu Haotian by 5-4 and Alan Taylor beat Yuan Sijun by the same score. Lyu and Jak set a few “targets” during their match. Lyu scored a 137 in frame 6, the highest break in the tournament for now. Their deciding frame lasted 92 minutes and 26 seconds, the longest of the season so far.

Yesterday, Zhao Jianbo, who replaces the suspended Liang Wenbo, beat Ashley Hugill by 5-1, an unexpected scoreline. Ashley was extremely slow all match, his AST was close to 40 sec at one point.

All detailed results are available on snooker.org.

Mark Allen is the 2022 UK Champion

Mark Allen beat Ding Junhui by 10-7 yesterday late evening to win the UK Championship for the first time.

Congratulations Mark Allen!

Here is the report by WST:

Allen Overturns Ding To Win First UK Title

Mark Allen completed one of the great Cazoo UK Championship final fight backs as he came from 6-1 down to beat Ding Junhui 10-7 and win the title for the first time.

In a thrilling conclusion to the tournament in York, the Pistol reeled off nine of the last ten frames with two centuries and five more breaks over 50 to take the trophy and £250,000 top prize – his biggest career pay day. It’s his second Triple Crown title having won the Masters in 2018.

Allen lost in the final at the Barbican in 2011 and 2018 but made it third time lucky as he recovered from a slow start to bury China’s Ding, a three-time winner of this event. On his path to the final, Allen had trailed by at least two frames in all four matches, but each time came back to win, then saved his best come-back of the week for the last day.

The pattern of the match echoed last month’s Northern Ireland Open final when he came from 4-1 down to beat Zhou Yuelong 9-4, and stands alongside the best UK Championship final comebacks, notably Alex Higgins’ 16-15 success from 7-0 down against Steve Davis in 1983, and John Higgins taking the last five frames to edge Mark William 10-9 in 2010.

It’s the eighth ranking title of his career, bringing him within one of Shaun Murphy, Peter Ebdon and John Parrott who have nine apiece. The 36-year-old from Antrim is in a fabulous run of form as his victory in Belfast in October followed a runner-up spot at the Cazoo British Open. He is up from ninth to fifth in the world rankings and holds a vast lead at the top of the one-year list with £380,000 to his tally.

The left-hander has faced personal problems over the past two years, including divorce and bankruptcy, but reveals that he has come through the worst of those troubled times, and also lost five stone in weight over the summer. Unburdened by mental and physical pressures, he is now playing to his full potential.

Ding, champion in 2005, 2009 and 2019, missed the chance to become only the fourth player to win this event on four or more occasions, after Ronnie O’Sullivan, Steve Davis and Stephen Hendry. He was cruising at 6-1, having made three centuries, but couldn’t regain the same fluency in the concluding session, and Ding remains on 14 ranking titles, the last of which was that 2019 success in York. The 35-year-old from China banks £100,000 and jumps from 38th to 19th in the world.

Trailing 6-2 after the first session, Allen got the perfect start tonight as breaks of 60, 93 and 132 closed the gap to 6-5. He was on 56 in the next when he went in-off, and Ding clawed his way back into the frame, getting the two snookers he needed. But Ding then missed the green and Allen took advantage to square the match.

After the interval, Allen kept his momentum going, making a 59 as he took the lead for the first time at 7-6 then taking the next in one visit with a 109. Having lost seven frames in a row, Ding regained the initiative with a break of 105. In frame 16, Allen made 42 before running out of position, but soon got back in with a thumping long red and added 32 to go 9-7 ahead.

Frame 17 was a scrappy affair and looked to be going Ding’s way when he led by 35 points, but Allen pulled out a fantastic clearance from the penultimate red, underlining his capacity to hold his nerve in the biggest moments.

I knew Alex Higgins had come from 7-0 down to win a UK final, I guess that shows us Northern Irish never say die and we have plenty of bottle,” said Allen. “I never let my head drop, even at 6-1. When I got back to 6-3 something changed and I felt great. By the time it was 6-6 I felt as if I wasn’t going to miss, and that’s a great feeling to have in a big final. It was my positive mental attitude that got me through and I’m really proud of that.

It was pure relief when the last pink went in. It has been such a tough nine days and I would have been devastated to lose today. I want to build a legacy for myself in this game. I am two thirds of the way to the Triple Crown now. I know how tough the World Championship will be. But if I keep doing what I’m doing then I will be confident when I go to Sheffield.”

Ding said: “Mark was very strong when he came back at me. He’s always been a good come-back player, so I didn’t relax. I didn’t make that many mistakes, he just potted long ones, made big breaks and centuries. At 6-6 I lost a bit of feeling, he played much better in the second half. I didn’t make any breaks and suddenly he was in charge of the game.

In the last frame I had a chance, maybe if it was 9-8 then anything could have happened. I’m disappointed, I had this great chance to win a title. But it’s always the best player that wins the trophy. I’ll stay confident, keep my head up and work hard. There’s nothing I need to change. Things are going well. I can’t get everything back in one week, I can only try and win more tournaments.”

Mark Allen has been the player of the season so far and I have no doubts that looking after himself better and getting fitter has been a big factor.Well done to him on and off the table!

As usual the draw for the 2023 Masters was done yesterday during the first MSI.

Cazoo Masters Draw And Schedule Confirmed

Neil Robertson will begin the defence of his Cazoo Masters title against another Triple Crown winner, Shaun Murphy, in the opening match of the tournament at Alexandra Palace in London in January.

The draw for the tournament has been made:

1 Neil Robertson v Shaun Murphy: Sunday January 8th at 1pm 
8 Kyren Wilson v Stuart Bingham: Wednesday January 11th at 7pm
5 Mark Allen v Barry Hawkins: Tuesday January 10th at 1pm
4 Judd Trump v Ryan Day: Wednesday January 11th at 1pm
3 Mark Selby v Zhao Xintong: Sunday January 8th at 7pm
6 John Higgins v Jack Lisowski: Monday January 9th at 7pm
7 Mark Williams v Yan Bingtao: Tuesday January 10th at 7pm
2 Ronnie O’Sullivan v Luca Brecel: Monday January 9th at 1pm

Robertson and Murphy have met twice in the final of the Masters – in 2012 when the Australian won 10-6 and 2015 when Murphy took revenge with a 10-2 success.

World Champion Ronnie O’Sullivan will be up against Luca Brecel on Monday January 9th at 1pm, while Judd Trump will take on Cazoo British Open winner Ryan Day on Wednesday January 11th at 1pm.

The schedule after round one is:

Thursday January 12th 1pm: QF4 (Williams / Yan / Ding v O’Sullivan / Brecel)
Thursday January 12th 7pm: QF3 (Selby / Zhao v Higgins / Lisowski)
Friday January 13th 1pm: QF2 (Allen / Hawkins v Trump / Day)
Friday January 13th 7pm: QF1: (Robertson / Murphy v Wilson / Bingham)
Saturday January 14th 1pm: SF2
Saturday January 14th 7pm: SF1
Sunday January 15th: Final

The Cazoo Masters, running from January 8 to 15, is snooker’s biggest invitation event and has been staged every year since 1975.

There are two more events to be played before the Masters and many feel that they should count towards the Masters qualification. I agree, but it’s the BBC dictating how this works… That said Yan Bingtao who is ranked 16th has a cushion of 29000 points that separates him from David Gilbert who is 17th. It’s not safe but it’s “safish” …

The 2022 UK Championship – The Semi-finals

Today’s final will be contested between Ding Junhui, who has won this title three times already and Mark Allen who has been the form player this season so far and tops the one year list comfortably.

here is how we got to this, as reported by WST:

Afternoon session

Ding Stays On Course For Fourth UK Title

Ding Junhui survived a late rally from Tom Ford to win 6-3 and reach the final of the Cazoo UK Championship, boosting his chances of becoming only the fourth player to win this title on four occasions.

Many millions of fans in his native China will tune in on Sunday when Ding takes on Mark Allen or Jack Lisowski in the final in York. First to ten frames will lift the trophy and bank a record £250,000 top prize.

Victory would make Ding the only player other than Ronnie O’Sullivan (seven titles), Steve Davis (six) and Stephen Hendry (five) to win this event four times, putting him ahead of all-time greats John Higgins and Neil Robertson who have three UK titles apiece.

Ding will be playing in his 21st ranking event final and aiming for his 15th title. Since he beat Stephen Maguire in the 2019 final here in York, Ding had reached only one ranking event semi-final, prior to this week. He is currently number 38 in the world so this run at the Barbican is a remarkable return to form for the 35-year-old.

He had to win two qualifying matches just to make it to the venue – and if he goes on to lift the trophy he’ll be the first qualifier to do so since his own 2005 triumph. The title would also come with a return to the top 16 and the added bonus of a place in January’s Cazoo Masters.

Having thrashed Ronnie O’Sullivan 6-0 in the quarter-finals yesterday, Ding came into today’s tie on the crest of a wave, and swept into a 5-0 lead. Ford recovered to 5-3 but it was too little and too late for the Englishman, who is still seeking his first ranking title.

The first frame came down to a safety battle with two reds on the table. Ding laid a tough snooker behind the yellow, and from the chance that followed he cleared for 1-0. A break of 55 in the second doubled his lead. Ford had a clear scoring chance in frame three but, with the balls at his mercy, he ran out of position on 26. He later missed a difficult black to a top corner when he trailed 27-33, handing Ding the chance to add 24 and extend his advantage. A break of 84 made it 4-0 at the interval.

In frame five, Ford made 46 before missing a straight-forward pink to a top corner. Again that proved costly as Ding made an excellent 62 clearance for 5-0. Then came the fight-back from Leicester’s Ford as breaks of 77, 64 and 64 got him back to 5-3. He looked set to pull another back as he potted eight reds with blacks in frame nine, only to miss a red to a top corner on 64. Ding countered with 37, then took advantage of a botched safety from his opponent on the penultimate red to secure victory.

I did feel pressure in the end when he got back to 5-3, and in the end I was lucky that he left me a red,” said Sheffield-based Ding. ”I wasn’t making big breaks so I just scored as many points as I could then played safe and waited for the next chance.

I have confidence to win. I’ll keep my eye on the shots and concentrate fully. I’m enjoying it and feeling good. Tomorrow is a different day but I think it helps that I have played in the final three times before. I know how to play in a final. Jack and Mark are both great players, they are quick and attacking.

It’s been tough for me in the last three seasons. My fans are waiting for me to win a tournament – and so am I. It’s a great chance.”

Ford said: “I was terrible out there, Ding didn’t play great himself, but he played the better of us. I just couldn’t control the white, it was rolling just a little bit extra and when I was falling out of position it was just getting harder and harder. From 5-0 I was just trying to get a respectable score line. I could have won that last frame to make it 5-4 and then all of a sudden, it’s a different game. I’ve got to take the positives that I’ve done well this week getting to the semis.”

Speaking to Ronnie and Radzi after the match, Ding said a few important things about the format. He insisted that this tiered format definitely helps the lower ranked players, giving them a more winnable opening match and allowing them to perform better at the main venue because they are under less pressure. They have already secured some money and ranking points, they have already won at least one match in the event and they know where they stand with their game. Of course all this is only relevant if the qualifiers are played just before the main event. It was also mentioned that Ding’s only run to the final at the Crucible came when he was a qualifier. That time he completely froze in the first session of the match: lost the first six frames of the match. Hopefully this won’t happen today.

Evenin session:

Allen Floors Lisowski In Black Ball Drama

Mark Allen won a breath-taking deciding frame on the last black to beat Jack Lisowski 6-5 and set up a Cazoo UK Championship final against Ding Junhui.

A tremendous semi-final, the best match of the tournament in York so far, came down to the last few balls. Lisowski earlier led 5-3 and had chances in the decider, but couldn’t get over the line and Allen produced a typically gutsy clearance from green to black to snatch victory.

The Northern Irishman is through to the final of this event for the third time, and having lost to Judd Trump in 2011 and Ronnie O’Sullivan in 2018 he hopes it will be third time lucky. Victory would give Allen his second Triple Crown success, having captured the Masters in 2018.

Allen is in a fabulous run of form, having reached the final of the Cazoo British Open and won the Northern Ireland Open within the past eight weeks. The 36-year-old is through to his third consecutive ranking event final and 16th of his career, and the silverware would give him an eighth ranking title.

First he’ll need to beat China’s Ding, who has already won this event three times and looks close to his best form. First to ten frames on Sunday takes the trophy and a record top prize of £250,000, which would be a career high pay-day for either player.

Breaks of 58 and 77 put Lisowski 2-0 ahead, and he made 60 in the next before narrowly missing an attempted double on the penultimate red. Allen later converted an excellent pot on the last red to a centre pocket and cleared to halve his deficit, then made a 63 in the next for 2-2. In frame five, Allen trailed 25-29 with three reds left when he over-cut the black to a top corner, letting Lisowski in to regain the lead.

In the sixth, Lisowski got the snooker he needed on the yellow, but then played a weak safety on the yellow, gifting Allen a pot to centre for 3-3. A run of 54 helped put Lisowski back in front, and he took frame eight after getting the better of a safety battle with two reds left. World number nine Allen pulled one back with a 115. Lisowski had two early chances in frame ten but mustered only 17 points, and Allen’s 74 made it 5-5.

Allen had first chance in the decider and made 36 before playing safe, then Lisowski countered with 57 before failing to dislodge the last red from a side cushion. It came down to the yellow and Lisowski potted it to a centre pocket before missing a tough green. Allen knocked in an equally difficult green to a baulk corner and seized his opportunity to clear the table.

My performance was really poor, but I stayed patient hoping something would change,” said Allen, who is sure to climb to fifth in the world rankings.  “Throughout the match I felt I got the better of the safety battles so when it came down to the last red in the decider, I felt I would get a chance.

Getting over the line in these big matches is tough and Jack hasn’t done it in these big tournaments yet. I always felt there was a chance he would miss. His time will come but this will be a sore one for him. He was the better player tonight and probably deserved to win.

You only play your best a handful of times in a season, so you have to win when not at your best, like Selby, Higgins and Robertson do regularly. I’m in such a good place mentally which helps me get through these matches.

I need to improve tomorrow. But I’ve done better than 142 of the players who started this tournament. I’m doing lots of things well, just not well enough. As long as I’ve got my cue in my hand and breath in my body, I’ll be giving it everything. It would mean so much to lift the trophy, these are the type of tournaments I want to win in my career.”

Lisowski said: “I did well to get back into the last frame and just didn’t move the red off the cushion. After that I played a bad frame. It’s really disappointing, I wasn’t good enough tonight.”

I would have loved to have Jack in the final, but Mark was the strongest player yesterday night. Not the best, but the strongest mentally.

Because BBC insist on that, the draw for the 2023 Masters will be made today. This is completely wrong in my views because there are two more ranking to be played between tomorrow and the Masters. The top 16 by then, in more than 6 weeks time, may well be different from what it will be tonight. Also, whilst Mark Allen will stay fifth no matter what happens today, Ding, currently out of the top 16, would climb to tenth if he wins and Yan Bingtao would then miss out.

The 2022 UK Championship – the Quarter-finals

Today will see Ding Junhui take on Tom Ford and Mark Allen face Jack Lisowski in the semi-finals of the 2022 UK Championship in York.

This is how we got there:

You fill find the account about Ding’s excellent performance and Ronnie’s disastrous day in office here.

That same afternoon, Tom Ford got the better of Joe Perry (report by WST)

Leicester’s Ford is through to the semi-finals of this event for the second time – the first came in 2018 when he lost 6-1 to O’Sullivan. The 39-year-old has never won a full ranking title so victory this week would be a remarkable time to make that breakthrough. He is into the semi-finals of a ranking event for the seventh time in his 21-year career and first time since the 2021 German Masters.

World number 32 Ford admits that a fragile mentality has held him back in the past, but in recent season he has worked with a sports psychologist and his self belief is clearly more robust. He proved the stronger player in the closing stages today and is now guaranteed a minimum of £50,000.

Ford started strongly with breaks of 103 and 62 for 2-0, then Perry pulled one back with a run of 70. In frame four, Perry led 51-23 when he rattled the penultimate red in the jaws of a baulk corner, and Ford punished him with a 41 clearance to lead 3-1 at the interval.

Back came Perry with 101 and 66 for 3-3, before Ford regained the lead with an 86. Cambridgeshire’s Perry had a scoring chance in frame eight but ran out of position on 25, and Ford took control with a run of 49. Perry later got the snooker he needed on the green, but then missed it to a centre pocket and Ford went 5-3 ahead.

He might have wrapped up the result in frame nine but left the last red in the jaws of a top corner when he led 66-40. Perry cleared for 5-4, but Ford’s 52 helped him dominate frame ten.

At 3-3 I potted a long red and then something just clicked and I felt really good,” said Ford. “Every time I got in, I just felt like I was going to clear up in one visit. It’s a very strange feeling to have but I felt great, even towards the end. I knew I was going to get over the line as long as I got a chance.

I’ve been working with (psychologist) Sabrina Francis, she’s been great. In the past, I could miss something and my head would go down but now if I miss something, I’ll forget about it quickly. I’m still going to have lapses where my head can be in the car park, but at the minute my head’s strong and I feel good.

Ding’s an absolute class act, he always has been. His game has dipped a little bit in the last few years but it looks like he’s back again. It’s going to be a tough match.

Perry said: “When I won the frame to go 5-4, in days gone by that might have really affected Tom. But he’s a different player these days. He’s matured, he’s worked on the mental side of his game, and he played a great last frame. Jack Lisowski aside, he’s the best player who hasn’t won a tournament yet. He’s been knocking on the door for a long time and I’ve seen a big difference in him mentally. I’ve played some really good stuff in this tournament and it took an inspired Tom Ford to beat me today.”

And this is WST account on the evening session

Four-Ton Lisowski Thumps Murphy

Jack Lisowski made a record-equalling four consecutive centuries as he reached the semi-finals of a Triple Crown event for the first time with an emphatic 6-1 victory over Shaun Murphy.

Lisowski joined an elite group of just seven other players who have made four tons in a row in a professional tournament. More importantly for the 31-year-old, he is through to the last four and just two wins away from winning his first title. On Saturday evening in York he’ll face Mark Allen, who came from 4-2 down to beat Sam Craigie 6-4.

Players to make four consecutive centuries in professional competition

Neil Robertson (has done so on two occasions)
Jack Lisowski
John Higgins
Gary Wilson
Mark Allen
Shaun Murphy
Stephen Maguire
Lu Ning

Lisowski is at the top of his game, thanks in part to the help of mentor Peter Ebdon. Playing with a clear mind and handling the pressure of competing for a maiden title, Lisowski’s vast natural talent is allowed to flourish. The Gloucestershire cueman has lost just four frames in his three matches in York so far.

The opening frame tonight was a rarity as it featured two breaks of 67, one from each player. Lisowski missed the blue to a centre pocket on that number, and Murphy made a tremendous clearance, taking the last five reds with blacks. That meant a respotted black, and a safety error from Murphy handed Lisowski the chance to convert a mid-range pot to a top corner.

Murphy had the chance of an immediate response but missed a tricky red on 28 in frame two and Lisowski capitalised with a fluent 105 clearance. That sparked his run of four consecutive tons as further breaks of 127, 123 and 100 made it 5-0. He had a chance to become the first player ever to make five in a row, but missed a tricky yellow on 20, and Murphy responded with 111, bowing to the crowd as he registered on the scoreboard.

Former World Champion Murphy had the chance to pull another one back but when he led 54-20 in frame seven, he played a push shot and instantly called a foul on himself. Lisowski cleared with 38 to settle the tie.

That’s how I’d love to always play snooker, everything was going into the middle of the pockets,” said world number 12 Lisowski, who is through to his tenth ranking semi-final. “When it’s like that, the game feels quite easy.

After the match, Shaun said some nice things, he’s a great ambassador and a lovely guy. He was very sporting when he called a foul on himself, credit to him.

I’ve got to focus again, stay positive, bring my A game again tomorrow and not worry about the other guy. Yesterday I got a bit excited after beating Hossein Vafaei and I only got about five hours sleep. Tonight I feel much calmer, I’m just thinking about tomorrow’s game and being sharp for it. I don’t want to just get to a semi-final, I want to win this thing.”

Murphy said: “Every time I made a small mistake, I had to sit down and admire the wondrous talent pouring out of this young man that we have seen coming for for a long time. Maybe this could be his week. It’s not easy winning, but if he can sustain that for another 16 frames he’ll be UK champion.”

World number nine Allen is in a marvellous run of form having reached the final of the Cazoo British Open and won the Northern Ireland Open within the past eight weeks. He is into his 32nd ranking event semi-final and fifth in the UK Championship.

Craigie was playing one of the biggest matches of his career, but settled quickly with a break of 74 to take the opening frame. Allen got the better of a scrappy second frame then made a 105 to lead 2-1. In the fourth, Allen missed the blue off the last red when he had the chance to clear, allowing Craigie to go 18 points ahead on the pink. Allen got the snooker he needed, only for Craigie to pot a long pink for 2-2.

After the interval, Craigie compiled runs of 84 and 104 to lead 4-2, only for Allen to storm back with 50, 108 and 92 to edge 5-4 ahead. And Northern Ireland’s Allen scrapped his way through the tenth frame to stay on track for an eighth career ranking title.

I played good stuff from 4-2,” said the Pistol, who was runner-up at this event in 2011 and 2018. “I wasn’t timing the ball well tonight but I hung in there, I was really good mentally, thinking good thoughts. At 4-2 I was hoping Sam would see the winning line. He played a few shots that were different to the way he played in the early part of the match, especially the break in frame nine when he rolled into the pack. I was surprised because that was negativity. I fed off that and kept him under pressure.

I’m happy with where I am, I have won a lot of matches and wining breeds winning. If Jack plays like he did tonight I have to try to be ready for that. I haven’t had my best stuff this week but I’m still here.

Today we have Ding Junhui v Tom Ford and Mark Allen , Jack Lisowski.

It’s an unexpected but very interesting line-up.

Ding yesterday looked very dangerous, back to his best. He has won this title three times already, he is more than capable to make it four. With younger Chinese players now winning titles, the pressure is a bit off him and he can play with more freedom. I have to make him favourite to win his SF today.

Tom Ford has always been a very capable and high scoring player. It’s the mental side of the sport that has been a problem. He is clearly much better at managing that nowadays, but will it be enough? I’m not sure.

Mark Allen looks happier, healthier … and is currently on top of the one year list. He’s been the best and most consistent player so far this season. I don’t expect his level to drop today.

Jack Lisowski though has been excellent all week. There weren’t many silly mistakes. He played a very attacking game but was never reckless. For years he’s been the cause of a lot of frustration for me and I’m sure for others too. But now he looks settled, much more mature. I rate Jack as the most talented player on the tour. Maybe it will finally convert into a big title tomorrow. I believe that it’s possible. I’d love that.

2022 UK Championship – Ding whitewashes Ronnie in the Quarter-finals

It was an afternoon to forget for Ronnie as he went out to Ding Junhui, beaten by 6-0.

Here are the scores:

It’s the first time ever that Ronnie fails to win a single frame in a Triple Crown event match.

Ding played extremely well, and Ronnie was as bad and out-of-sorts as I ever can remember. He had opportunities in the first two frames and couldn’t take any. He didn’t pot a single long ball, he missed a simple black off the spot in frame one, he misjudged his safeties, he miscued spectacularly in frame 2, he didn’t get a single “rest shot” right…

Of course Ding took confidence from this and from frame 3 on, it was just one way traffic. He served the fans a master class and remembered everyone how good a player he is. I just hope that he now goes on and wins the tournament. He’s won it three times already…

Ronnie was very gracious in defeat

… and praised his opponent afterwards.

Here is the report by WST:

Ding Hits Rocket For Six

Ronnie O’Sullivan was whitewashed in a Triple Crown event for the first time in his 30-year career as he lost 6-0 to Ding Junhui in the quarter-finals of the Cazoo UK Championship.

Rarely in O’Sullivan’s glittering career has he been so severely beaten. He failed to make a break over 50, and scored just four points in the last four frames as Ding ran away with the contest.

As World Champion and world number one, winner of two titles already this season and with seven UK Championship crowns to his name, O’Sullivan was hot favourite for the £250,000 top prize in York, but was completely outplayed today. He made several errors over the first two frames, which allowed Ding to build confidence, and from 2-0 the Chinese ace was unstoppable, making four breaks over 80.

The 35-year-old goes through to Saturday afternoon’s semi-final where he will meet Tom Ford or Joe Perry; all three of those players are ranked outside the top 16 and had to come through the qualifying rounds to make it to the Barbican. Ding has slipped to 38th in the world rankings but there is no doubting his exceptional talent. He won this tournament in 2005, 2009 and 2019, and is looking to become the only player other than O’Sullivan (seven titles), Steve Davis (six) and Stephen Hendry (five) to lift the trophy on four or more occasions. If Ding, Ford or Perry win the title on Sunday, that would also come with a top 16 place and a spot in the Cazoo Masters in January.

The opening frame came down to a safety battle on the green, and Ding played a superb shot to swerve around the blue and pot the green to a baulk corner, setting up a clearance. In frame two, O’Sullivan trailed 50-56 when he missed a tricky pot on the last red to a centre pocket, and his opponent punished him for 2-0. A break of 88 saw Ding extend his lead.

Early in frame four, O’Sullivan had a scoring chance but made just 4 before mis-cueing on a short range red. Ding enjoyed a massive fluke on a red to a centre pocket and capitalised with 94. The 14-time ranking event winner picked up where he left off after the interval with a run of 87 for 5-0, and saved his best until last as he rounded off the contest with a 131.

I played well, I got my chances and had a bit of luck,” said Sheffield-based Ding. “It’s difficult to play Ronnie, I know when I’m in front he can come back very quickly. But today he didn’t look like he could do it. In the first two frames he missed a lot, and that released a bit of pressure. After the interval I had to keep my focus.

I want to win but it’s a big thing to say that. I’m just going to get ready for tomorrow’s match. It’s only the semi-finals. Nobody knows what will happen tomorrow and all I can do is keep playing well and see what happens

I’ve got a lot of fans now, a lot of luck. The Chinese students in York support me, and some of our academy players come to watch my game. I’m very happy that they’re here.”

O’Sullivan, who turns 47 next month, said: “It’s great to see Ding play well. He’s a class act. Afterwards I just said to him ‘you played great, go and win it, get the job done.’ I think we’re all Ding fans. Some days you play and it goes great and some days it doesn’t. It was just one of those days, what can you do? Thirty years I’ve been at this game, I’ve taken a few knocks along the way.

2022 UK Championship – The last 16

As we reach the quarter-finals in York, only one member of the top 8 remains in the draw: Ronnie. Three more seeds are still in the competition: Mark Allen, Shaun Murphy and Jack Lisowski.

You can read about Ronnie’s win over Zhou here

Here are the reports by WST, covering the last 16 round:

Wednesday afternoon (minus Ronnie’s match)

On the other table, Tom Ford beat Luca Brecel 6-3 to reach the quarter-finals of this event for the second time. Ford’s previous appearance in the last eight in York came in 2018 when he beat Joe Perry before losing to O’Sullivan in the semis. This time he could face Perry again, or Stuart Bingham.

Leicester’s Ford had a slow start to the season, losing in the first round of four ranking events, but has now found his game, winning two qualifying matches to make it to the Barbican then seeing off John Higgins and Brecel.

Ford went 2-0 up with a top break of 70 and he led 54-0 in the next but Brecel hit back to take it with an excellent 61 clearance. In frame four, Ford was up 54-8 with three reds left when he ran out of position, and again Brecel cleared to go to the interval at 2-2. Leicester’s Ford regained the lead with a run of 79.

Frame six came down to a safety battle on the green, resolved when Brecel clipped in a long pot and cleared the table to square the tie at 3-3. Once again it was Ford who edged ahead thanks to a run of 100, and he got the better of a safety tussle on the last red in frame eight, clearing to lead 5-3. The 39-year-old dominated frame nine to reach the 15th ranking quarter-final of his career.

I played well in patches,” said Ford. “Just to get over the line and get to the next round it was a big win for me because that puts me into the World Grand Prix I think. I’m feeling better as the matches go on.

It would mean a lot to get to the semis, it would give me a big confidence boost. Before this event I’d hardly won a game this season, so getting into the quarters of the UK is a great achievement.”

I can’t comment on this one, as I didn’t watch it at all.

Wednesday evening

Craigie To Meet Allen In Quarters

Sam Craigie kept his fantastic run going at the Cazoo UK Championship, beating Ryan Day 6-4 to reach the second ranking event quarter-final of his career.

After winning two matches to qualify for the Barbican, Craigie knocked out defending champion Zhao Xintong, and has now beaten in-form Day who won the Cazoo British Open last month. His next opponent on Friday is Mark Allen, who scored a 6-3 success against Kyren Wilson.

Craigie’s only previous run to the last eight of a ranking event came at the China Open in 2019, when Neil Robertson ended his progress. Victory over Allen would mean his deepest run since turning pro in 2011, as well as his biggest pay day. The 29-year-old from Newcastle-Upon-Tyne is enjoying the most consistent year of his career as he also reached the last 16 of the German Masters and Turkish Masters early in 2022, and is set to break into the top 40 of the world rankings.

He made three centuries tonight – 103, 130 and 103 – helping him to a 4-2 lead. Day made 52 and 112 as he fought back to 4-4, but Craigie took frame nine with runs of 41 and 36 then clinched the result in frame ten with a 77.

I know I had some good breaks but I didn’t feel I was going to score today and I lost the white a few times,” said Craigie, who won the World Under-21 Championship back in 2010, beating his brother Stephen 7-6 in the semi-finals and Li Hang 9-8 in the final. “Ryan put me under pressure at 4-4 so I was pleased to come through that. If I can score heavily, someone will have to play well to beat me.

I had friends in the crowd tonight plus my fair share of support from the neutrals so I really appreciate that. I’m looking forward to playing Mark Allen because I really get on with him, and hopefully it will be a good game for the fans.”

Northern Ireland’s Allen is arguably the player of the season so far having won the Northern Ireland Open and reached the final of the Cazoo British Open. He is now through to the UK Championship quarter-finals for the sixth time and has his sights set on the trophy, having finished runner-up in 2011 and 2018.

Wilson took the first two frames tonight with a top break of 67, but Allen took control as the contest progressed. The world number nine won six of the next seven frames with top breaks of 60, 70, 96, 84, 80 and 70. Defeat for Wilson means that Ronnie O’Sullivan and Judd Trump are the only members of the top eight left in the field.

Allen said: “I had a slow start and gifted the first two frames to Kyren. At 2-2 I felt very relaxed because I felt I had broken the back of the match. After the interval my safety was good and I potted a few long ones. I have never been one to look at draws or think about who’s still in it. Sam Craigie might be a bit further down the rankings but he thoroughly deserves to be here because he has had two cracking wins. It will be a big match for both of us on Friday.”

Even at 2-0 down, the feeling was that Mark Allen was in better shape and more confident than Kyren Wilson. Mark’s long potting was excellent. I totally get what he said about going into the interval relaxed. You could sense it: he had the upper hand and memories about their Masters final crept in my mind … probably in Kyren’s mind too. In fact, Kyren has not beaten Mark since the 2018 Champion of Champion, four years ago.

Thursday afternoon

Magician Proves A Pain In The Neck For Trump

Suffering from the effects of a chronic neck injury, Shaun Murphy played “95 percent of shots in complete agony” as he came from 5-3 down to beat Judd Trump 6-5 and reach the quarter-finals of the Cazoo UK Championship.

Murphy rose to the occasion at the business end as breaks of 110, 104 and 53 gave him the last three frames, earning a meeting with Hossein Vafaei or Jack Lisowski on Friday evening.

World number 13 Murphy has struggled with neck pain for eight years, and after a flare-up a few days ago, he tweeted this morning to say: “In terrible pain today with my neck / shoulder. Going to try everything to be ready to play at 1pm but right now it’s not looking good.

But a combination of massage and stretching enabled him to compete, and it turned out to be one of Murphy’s best victories of recent years as he knocked out a player ranked ten places higher and reached his first quarter-final in this event for five years. The result means that Ronnie O’Sullivan is the only player ranked inside the world’s top eight left in the line-up in York.

In fact Murphy was immediately into his stride with a break of 100, then Trump made it 1-1 with an 89. In frame three, Trump led 66-30 when he missed a tricky pot on the yellow with two reds left, and Murphy punished him with a 43 clearance. Frame four was dominated by Trump and in the fifth he got the better of a tactical exchange on the green, capitalising on a safety error from Murphy to go 3-2 up. Trump’s run of 62 helped him double his lead.

Frame seven came down to a long battle on the colours, and a tremendous long pot on the brown from Murphy set him up to close the gap to 4-3. Trump got the better of an exchange on the last red in frame eight, as he went 5-3 ahead. After a 110 in the ninth, Murphy was on for a 147 in frame ten until he failed to gain position on the penultimate red, but the 104 was enough for 5-5.

First chance in the decider went Murphy’s way and he made 44 before playing safe. Trump had a chance to counter, but left a difficult red to a top corner in the jaws of the pocket and that proved his last shot as Murphy added 53.

As the dust settles and I think about where that features in my best wins, it will probably be up there,” said 40-year-old Murphy. “I’ve never let my head drop and I knew at 5-3 every frame is my last. I was just lucky that I got a chance in all three of them and the hours of practice that I have been putting in came out.

I played 95 percent of my shots in complete agony. I was very close to pulling out. I always have one of those massage guns that you can treat yourself with, I was looking for it last night and realised I hadn’t brought it to York. This morning my friend Robbie and I dashed to the shops looking for one. We finally found one, got a taxi back to the hotel, and had 40 minutes with the massage gun in the dressing room. It’s very painful, but it’s either quit or try. And I chose to try.”

Trump said: “I didn’t get much of a chance from 5-3. By the last frame, I’d been frozen out for 30 minutes. When I had a chance at the red, I just tried to drop it in dead weight knowing that if I missed it was game over. They’re the ones that you have to pot if you want to win tournaments. The way Shaun played in the last three frames, he deserved to win.

Asked about Murphy’s pre-match tweet, Trump replied: “The way he started off with a century in the first frame just put all doubt to bed. He certainly played like he wasn’t injured. Everyone exaggerates to try and ease the pressure – people handle it in different ways. As soon as I saw him practising I knew that it was going to be a battle today.”

On the other table, three-time champion Ding Junhui hammered Jamie Clarke 6-1 to set up a blockbuster quarter-final clash with O’Sullivan on Friday at 1pm.  China’s Ding, winner of 14 ranking events, has slipped to number 38 in the world, but this week’s run will boost him back up the list as he is now guaranteed £25,000.

Ding took the opening frame with a break of 99. The second came down to the colours and Clarke went in-off when playing safe on the green, gifting his opponent a 2-0 lead. Breaks of 87 and 118 extended Ding’s advantage to 4-0 at the interval.

In frame five, Ding was on 55 when an attempted red to centre hit the far jaw, and Clarke made an impressive 55 clearance to pulled one back. He also had a scoring chance early in the sixth but made just 18 before missing a red to a corner pocket. Ding fluked a red to set a break of 67 to go 5-1 ahead. And 35-year-old Ding compiled another run of 67 in the next frame to wrap up the result.

I know I can score well,” said Ding. “Sometimes I play a bad positional shot and that’s careless. So maybe I need to think more and keep the break going. I don’t want my top form for just one day, I’d rather be at 80 percent the whole week, that would be much better.

It’s going to be a great match to play Ronnie. I’ll just try my best, see what happens. He’s the best player, what can I say? I want to play him more, as much as I can. Every shot I will just try to learn more and try some different things.

There are always Chinese students in York who come and watch my games. They will be excited for tomorrow’s game so I’ll be concentrating harder.

Judd Trump came just short of accusing his opponent of faking injury. I can understand why he was disappointed but the basic truth is that he was nowhere near his best and has not been on form for a long time. Shaun player really well in the last three frames. Maybe seeing the winning line allowed him to “forget” the pain to an extend.

Ding played well too but Jamie Clarke was completely unable to put him under pressure. Ronnie and Ding like and respect each other. Their matches are almost always entertaining and high quality.

Thursday evening

Lisowski And Perry Complete Quarter-Final Line-Up

Jack Lisowski reached the quarter-finals of the Cazoo UK Championship for the third consecutive year with an impressive 6-2 victory over Hossein Vafaei in York.

Friday’s quarter-finals

Ronnie O’Sullivan v Ding Junhui
Joe Perry v Tom Ford

Mark Allen v Sam Craigie
Shaun Murphy v Jack Lisowski

World number 12 Lisowski clearly enjoys this event and hopes he can reach his first semi-final this time, having lost to Zhao Xintong in the last eight a year ago, and to Zhou Yuelong in 2020. This time he meets Shaun Murphy on Friday at 7pm, in an intriguing match between two of snooker’s most attacking players.

Lisowski eased into a 3-0 lead tonight with a top break of 95. Vafaei scored just 14 points in those three frames, but hit back in the fourth with a run of 111. The next two were shared, then Lisowski made a 101 to lead 5-2. Iran’s Vafaei could have pulled one back, but he missed a straightforward yellow in frame eight when he trailed 40-55, throwing his cue to the floor in frustration before Lisowski took the chance to seal the result.

My long potting and positional play were good,” said 31-year-old Lisowski. “I really enjoyed the game. I was hitting the ball great, which is a nice feeling. I put Hossein under pressure all night, I could see he was worried about his safety, because my long game was good. He had just beaten Mark Selby which was a big scalp.

When I play Shaun, hopefully we will both be going for everything and there will be no safety. He is a former champion and a great player. I didn’t watch him play Judd today, I just concentrate on my own game.”

Joe Perry enjoyed a 6-3 success against Stuart Bingham and has now reached the quarter-finals of this event on eight occasions since 2004. Welsh Open champion Perry won two qualifying matches to make it to York before knocking out Neil Robertson and Bingham. The world number 30 now faces another qualifier, Tom Ford.

Perry made a break of 93 in the opening frame tonight, then Bingham battled back to 2-2 with runs of 78 and 103. After the interval, Perry pulled away with 82, 82 and 75 to lead 5-2. Bingham pulled one back with 102, but Perry finished the job in frame nine, helped by a run of 64.

It’s a big win because it’s always tough against Stuart,” said 48-year-old Perry. “I love it here in York. When the Barbican is buzzing, it brings out the best in me, it’s a wonderful atmosphere.”

Jack Lisowski played really well. He didn’t go for outlandish shots, he scored well and he kept his concentration. I used to both love and hate watching him. I love his flair but he also frustrated me a lot because, too often, a few silly shots were ruining his chances. No such things yesterday. Now I believe – again – that he will win a bid title soon.