So we are now down to the last 16 players and unfortunately not all of them can reach the semi-finals. This competition has produced the best of the 32 players that first entered on day one and this round certainly didn’t disappoint. With all snooker matches there are losers and on the day the likes of Graeme Dott, Kyren Wilson and Jimmy White just couldn’t muster up enough magic to pass the winning post. Never listen to my predictions because White and Wilson are now out. Maybe I should have gone with Gary Wilson instead.
This was a quick day and most of the players were extinguished as they got to the quarter-finals stage. Like any match, the trend seems to be when you beat someone in a a close fought match, you go on to lose in the next round. Stuart Bingham was the the victim of this curse as he beat Mark Selby 6-2 and then lost to Mark Williams, 3-6. In the end, whatever the format, the cream of the crop reign in snooker. The exception seems to be Ding Junhui who couldn’t quite make it to the final stages. Us at snookerfans.co.uk wrote a piece on Ding a few months ago and sadly his mindset hasn’t improved, he currently doesn’t have that winning drive and also seem to lack confidence in his cueing action and this is a problem when matches go close.
On the other hand, Gary Wilson has continued to grow after his fabulous performance in the World Championship where getting through to the semi- final stage of any tournament is no mean feat and beating Ding, 6-5 is some achievement. Unlike Ding, Gary is fearless and treats every match the same whoever his opponent. That is a great quality to have in snooker and wins silverware. I do believe that this may be his time. He will have to scrap with Stephen Maguire next and that won’t be an easy match. Maguire on the table, is aggressive and ruthless but when he is off it, he is calm spoken and a family man. It is like you have to create an alter ego when you play this sport and forget who you really are for the duration of the match.
Of the final four players left, my backing has to lean towards Mark Williams but he does face a tough battle against John Higgins. Both from the class of ‘92, these players have played each other at various locations hundreds of times and know each others’ games inside out. Both will be nervous as they both want to win and get to the final but on the day strange things happen to your game. Pressure causes you to lose focus and you end up playing a shot that you would have never played outside this pressure cooker environment and maybe that crucial ball that hands your opponent the frame or match.
Stuart Bingham 6-2 Mark Selby
John Higgins 6-4 Wu Yize
David Gilbert 6-4 Kyren Wilson
Mark Williams 6-1 Joe Perry
Ali Carter 6-5 Passakorn Suwannawat
Stephen Maguire 6-5 Jimmy White
Ding Junhui 6-4 Graeme Dott
Gary Wilson 6-5 Yan Bingtao
Stephen Maguire 6-2 Ali Carter
Mark Williams 6-3 Stuart Bingham
John Higgins 6-4 David Gilbert
Gary Wilson 6-5 Ding Junhui
By Curtis Braithwaite
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