UK Championship Qualifiers 2010: Sunday Updates

Third round time at the UK Championship qualifiers and judging by the pace of some of the morning matches, we could be in for a long day…

Evening Session

Fergal O’Brien 9-4 Jamie Jones
Nigel Bond 7-9 Peter Lines
Anthony Hamilton 3-9 Rod Lawler
Alan McManus 5-9 Liu Chaung
Dave Harold 4-9 James Wattana
Barry Pinches 4-9 Dave Gilbert

First man through to the final qualifying round is unsurprisingly James Wattana who needed just under two hours tonight to convert his morning lead over Dave Harold into a 9-4 win tonight. Although a place in the top 64 does not look possible for James following this tournament, it would be great to see him on the BBC again for the first time since (I think), the 2006 World Championship. His last 48 opponent Martin Gould might disagree with that however!

The result also means that Dave Harold will be out of the top 48 at the next seedings revision and with 4450 points still to come off from 2008/9, he will have a hard job getting back into that bracket between now and the end of the season.

Soon to join James in the last 48 is David Gilbert who has now won four times as many matches this season as he had done before the start of the tournament. His latest victim is Barry Pinches who having made a flying start to the season has just started to see wins dry up, although he remains inside the top 48. For David though it is another good win and standing between him and a spot in Telford now is Stephen Lee.

Third man through is Irishman Fergal O’Brien who having struggled for form last year has enjoyed a much stronger 2010 to date and has now added in-form Welshman Jamie Jones to his list of scalps. I had expected this one to be a little closer if I’m honest but Fergal’s experience over the longer matches was always going to help him and a 9-4 victory puts him through to a final round clash with Barry Hawkins…tough to call once again.

Next two through are Liu Chaung and Rod Lawler, both convincing winners against higher ranked opponents in the form of Alan McManus and Anthony Hamilton respectively. Next up for Liu is a very tough clash with Ricky Walden while Rod faces Ken Doherty who defeated him early last season in the Shanghai Masters qualifiers.

Afternoon Session

Robert Milkins 5-3 Matthew Couch
Tom Ford 4-4 Tony Drago
Dominic Dale 5-3 Matthew Selt
Rory McLeod 4-4 Kyren Wilson

The first of this afternoon’s four matches saw Tom Ford take on Tony Drago in what on paper looked to be a tough match to call at the outset and at 4-4 overnight continues to look so. for both players there is a lot riding on this as not only is a spot in Telford up for grabs, but Tom is trying to secure a place inside the top 32 at the next seedings revision while Tony is trying to move back into the top 48.

Another player bidding to climb up into the top 32 after this tournament is Dominic Dale and he made a good start to a tricky third round tie today against Matt Selt, a man who having struggled to establish himself on the circuit for a few years is now displaying the level of consistency required to move up the rankings. Leading 5-3 Dale has the edge but like all of the matches from this session, it still has the potential to go all the way.

Elsewhere, Robert Milkins leads Matt Couch 5-3 whilst in by far the slowest match of the session, Rory McLeod stands level at 4-4 with Kyren Wilson. I would have to back Rory to grind his way through against his less experienced opponent but Kyren has recorded some impressive wins recently and is right in this match.

Morning Session

With the greatest of respect to both players, the match between Rod Lawler and Anthony Hamilton was never had the look of being a quickfire encounter and this was soon borne out by a first frame that took the best part of an hour. Eventually play was halted following the sixth frame with the match to be played to a conclusion later this evening. With Rod 5-1 up however, Anthony will need to find his form if he is to turn it around. In a best of 17 though he is far from out of it.

Another match to be pulled off before the allotted eight frames were completed was that between last season’s quarter-finalist Peter Lines and veteran Nigel Bond, a tough match to call on paper and one that could well go the distance. Peter currently leads 4-3.

Meanwhile, David Gilbert’s renaissance continued apace as from 3-1 down against Barry Pinches at the mid-session interval he suddenly found some form to take the next four and secure a 5-3 lead heading into tonight’s final session. Looking at the ranking lists and what David has to come off between now and May I fear that he may have too much to do if he is to somehow force his way back inside the top 64, but it is nevertheless good to see him playing well again. A two frame gap over a match of this distance however is not a huge lead and I expect Barry to push him all the way tonight.

The closest man to booking his place in the final round after this morning’s session is James Wattana, who opened up a 6-2 lead over the Stoke Potter Dave Harold to leave himself just needing three more tonight. James has a strong record against Dave over the years and has reserved his best form for the major events so far this season and I think will be able to get over the line from here.

Another veteran however I suspect will be struggling as Alan McManus finds himself 5-3 down against dark horse Liu Chuang who continues on his way to a final qualifying round showdown with Ricky Walden. Like Barry, Alan is far from out of the match but there is something about Liu over the longer format matches and I think that he will be able to edge it.

Finally, Fergal O’Brien leads Welshman Jamie Jones 5-3 in the other match that started this morning as he continues his push for a top 32 place following this tournament.