Welsh Open 2011: Day Five News

Photo by @markking147

The long wait for another back to back winner of ranking events continues as the in-form Mark Williams was dumped out of the Welsh Open by Stephen Maguire earlier today. Mark Selby also won…

Welsh Open 2011 – Day Five Results:

Mark Williams 3-5 Stephen Maguire
Mark Selby 5-3 Graeme Dott
Ali Carter 5-2 Ding Junhui
John Higgins 5-3 Matthew Stevens

Coming into this match having not lost a frame so far in Newport, Mark Williams was a warm favourite for this match with many but it was Scotland’s Maguire who eventually emerged as the winner.

Following an early re-rack, Maguire took the opener with a modest break of 45 before Williams levelled matters with 54. The frames continued to be shared, a match high break of 105 from Maguire making it 3-3 as the match entered a critical phase. Williams had his chances but Stephen knocked in 68 to lead for the first time since the opening frame before taking the eighth following a rather fortuitous run of the ball to leave Mark in a Chinese snooker following a missed pot.

Take nothing away from Stephen though, he is third on the current one-year list for a reason and has been knocking on the door for a while at ranking events now. He will not take this as a compliment but over the last few years I feel that he has become a pretty good yardstick for players, usually beating those who he should beat, but losing to those who I would expect to beat him. He is a better player than that though and his recent win against Mark Selby in Telford and now this one shows that for me he is finding his confidence again when it comes to facing the elite players.

Speaking of Mark Selby, the two will meet in the semi-finals tomorrow following a predictably hard fought win over Graeme Dott today. As someone said to me last night, you know exactly what you are going to get with these two and judging by the frame scores it was certainly a war of attrition.

Good to see Mark continue his strong form though, but he will have to play better against Maguire.

In the evening matches, John Higgins survived a scare against Matthew Stevens to book his place in the last four and end Matthew’s hopes of a top 16 place in the process.

Matthew made a strong start to the match, punishing a missed black from John on just 17 with a well-taken 77 and when John missed a red to the left-centre on 43 in frame two, looked like he might repeat the feat. It was not to be though, Higgins getting back to the table and levelling with 37 before adding the next two for a 3-1 interval lead, a break of 135 in frame four proving the highlight.

Despite that however, John was missing a few balls and sensing this, Stevens took advantage to draw level with breaks of 93 and 58 on the resumption of play. At the time I commented that Higgins was there for the taking, but as he so often does, the Scot upped his game when he needed to and eventually took the match in frame eight with an excellent clearance, highlighted but a sublime shot from the final green to free the brown from the side-cushion.

In the first of tomorrow’s semi-finals John will face Ali Carter after the Captain stormed to a 5-2 victory against an out of sorts Ding Junhui this evening. Having taken frames three and four to level the match at 2-2 it appeared as though the momentum was with Ding, but runs of 59, 76 and 74 in the last three frames powered Ali into yet another semi-final here in Newport.

What is it about Ali and this place?