Shanghai Masters: Hendry hammered by the defending champion

There’s clearly something about the Shanghai air that agrees with Ricky Walden. The reigning Shanghai Masters champion is into the last eight once again after a commanding 5-1 win over Stephen Hendry and is showing the sort of form that suggests he’s a serious contender to take the title for the second year running. Also moving into the quarter-finals in emphatic fashion are Liang Wenbo (a 5-0 victor over Ali Carter) and Ryan Day (5-1 winner against Matthew Stevens), while Ronnie O’Sullivan overcame a tricky start against Marco Fu to also advance.

Evening Session


Ricky Walden 5-1 Stephen Hendry
84(83)-21, 64-0, 64(63)-23, 80-63, 41-60, 113(73)-12
Allister Carter 0-5 Liang Wenbo
31-45, 1-71(70), 38-68, 42-95(44), 10-72
Ronnie O’Sullivan 5-2 Marco Fu
32-88(51c), 99(99)-4, 62(62)-4, 74(74)-0, 9-78(48), 99(66)-1, 66-64(54)
Ryan Day 5-1 Matthew Stevens
118(118)-17, 16-52, 69(69)-49, 69(48)-10, 63(49)-9, 70-63

2008 champion Ricky Walden wasted no time in progressing to the quarter-finals of an event that he clearly enjoys. While Stephen Hendry had his chances in all but the second frame, it was Walden who took all of the first four, breaks of 83 in the first and 63 in the third the highlights as he took a commanding lead into the mid-session interval. The Maestro had of course faced a similar interval deficit in his first round match with Marcus Campbell and mounted a stunning comeback to win 5-4, so when he edged a scrappy fifth frame, the prospect of a repeat performance was definitely in the minds of the fans and – you’d imagine – the players as well.

This time it wasn’t to be however, as Walden showed he is made of sterner stuff by settling any nerves he may have had with a 73 break, clinching an impressive 5-1 win and booking a quarter-final spot. With the form he’s showed thus far and the tournament looking pretty open at this stage, a second straight Shanghai Masters title for Ricky is a definite possibility.

Walden’s opponent in the last eight will be China’s Liang Wenbo, who himself is looking like a potential tournament winner. In three matches this week, the local hero has delighted the fans in losing just three frames, none of those coming in today’s whitewash of world number 5 Allister Carter. It has to be said that Welsh Open champion Carter really wasn’t at the races and struggled to keep his composure as frustration mounted at a series of unexpected misses, meaning the 22-year-old from Heilongjiang didn’t need to be at his fluent, attacking best to win this one convincingly, something he acknowledged when speaking to “I’m very happy to win but I played so-so. Ali was worse and he almost lost his temper in fourth frame (after five consecutive misses)”.

Nonetheless, to rout a player of Carter’s quality while only playing ‘so-so’ is an achievement in itself, and leaves you wondering what damage he could do if he really hits top form over the next few days. Tomorrow’s quarter-final clash with Walden has the potential to be a hugely entertaining encounter, and with Ding Junhui also still involved, the home fans will doubtless be thrilled at the prospect of two Chinese players featuring in the last eight – the first time that has ever happened (from the Chinese mainland anyway).

There was another one-sided scoreline in the match between the tournament’s two remaining Welshmen, with Pontycymer’s Ryan Day running out a convincing 5-1 winner over Carmarthen’s Matthew Stevens. The world number 6 set the tone right from the off with a break of 118 in frame one, and while Stevens levelled things up by taking the second, Day reeled off the next three with runs of 69, 48 and 49 before securing victory by taking a scrappy frame six on the black.

Still awaiting a first ranking event title, Ryan is in with a chance of breaking his duck here in Shanghai, but it’s certainly not going to be easy – his last eight opponent will be the world champion, John Higgins. Matthew, down at a relatively lowly #26 in the world now after a couple of extremely disappointing seasons, can take heart from his run here, which will see him make significant ground on those immediately ahead of him in the rankings and should hopefully give him something to build on for the rest of the campaign.

The quarter-final lineup is completed by the world number 1, Ronnie O’Sullivan. Not always at his best in the Far East events, the Rocket looks in decent shape this week, although he had to make full use of his famed ambidexterity to overcome Marco Fu. It was the man from Hong Kong who took the opening frame with a 51 clearance, and O’Sullivan was sufficiently frustrated with his error-strewn right-handed play in that opener to switch to using his left. That brought immediate results in the form of a 99 break in frame two, and last year’s finalist quickly added frames three and four to his side of the scoreboard with breaks of 62 and 74 to take a 3-1 interval lead.

Fu briefly rallied after that interval to reduce arrears to just the one frame, but a 66 break from O’Sullivan in frame six quelled any real hope of a comeback, and a clearance of 34 in the next duly clinched victory for the three-time world champion. He’ll now meet Ding in the quarters, and that’s a prospect that appeals to Ronnie. “I’ve always wanted to play Ding in China, he’s a class act and the number one player here so to play him in front of his fans will be great,” he told, while also acknowledging the need to find form with his preferred right hand.

So, just to confirm the quarter-final lineup and tomorrow’s schedule:

Quarter-Finals (best of nine frames)

Ricky Walden v Liang Wenbo
Shaun Murphy v Ken Doherty

Ronnie O’Sullivan v Ding Junhui
John Higgins v Ryan Day