It is what is generally known as ‘Moving Day’ at the Welsh Open on Thursday when the majority of the remaining players will be hoping to play two matches as we play down to the quarter final stage in Newport.
The big names are beginning to fall from this event now with the likes of world champion Mark Selby, UK champion Zhao Xintong and John Higgins dispatched on Wednesday so the star players who remain will be on their toes a little more from here on in.
The second round concludes across the two sessions of matches in the afternoon session and we begin on the TV table with an absolute belter of a match as Ronnie O’Sullivan takes on Ding Junhui in a clash which really should be a final not a second round encounter. Over on the streamed table Shaun Murphy will face the highest ranked Welsh player left in the tournament in Ryan Day. Don’t sleep on the outside tables in this session though. One of them first up will see Yan Bingtao taking on Ricky Walden in a battle of two form horses. Hossein Vafaei meets Jak Jones on the other table.
Kyren Wilson will be the centre of attention on the TV table in the second match in the afternoon. He will face off against a Matt Selt who is threatening a big week somewhere. Barry Hawkins will be on show over on the streamed table. He will meet a Ben Woollaston who had a good win over Liang Wenbo in the previous round. The outside tables will see Jack Lisowski going up against Elliot Slessor who beat Stuart Bingham in the last round. Michael White will look to move into the last 16 of his home event when he faces the conqueror of Mark Selby in Liam Highfield.
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We don’t know much about the makeup of the evening session yet as it is the time of the tournament where the entire last 16 will be played out. We do know that the first match on the TV table will see Jimmy Robertson taking on Judd Trump for a third time in a Home Nations event this season. The streamed table is likely to see the winner of the Ryan Day and Shaun Murphy match taking on whoever comes out on top when Hossein Vafaei meets Jak Jones. The two matches on the outside tables first up sees Matthew Stevens looking for a quarter final spot on home soil when he faces Zhang Anda while Ali Carter will look to continue his impressive Welsh Open record when he meets Scott Donaldson.
The later TV match in the evening session will see Ronnie O’Sullivan facing the winner of the match between Yan Bingtao and Ricky Walden but if Ding Junhui beats the Rocket then it will be Neil Robertson on the TV stage. He meets the winner of the match between Barry Hawkins and Ben Woollaston. That match will be on the streamed table if Ronnie has made it through. The two outside tables will see Joe Perry meeting the winner of the Matt Selt and Kyren Wilson battle while whoever comes out on top between Jack Lisowski and Elliot Slessor will take on the victor from the Michael White and Liam Highfield tussle.
There isn’t a huge amount I like over the course of the day here but having made a profit on the first three days of the tournament I’m quite happy to just go with one which I think is a good thing and top up the profit for the week. That comes in the evening session match between Matthew Stevens and Zhang Anda where I think the home man can continue his progress in front of his home crowd in a venue which is clearly inspiring him this week.
Stevens has rolled back the years at times so far. He played well against Lu Ning and probably even better against Mitchell Mann. The big thing for Stevens is he has scored well all week. That suggests to me that he’s been putting some work in and when he does that he is still a class act. Zhang Anda is a whole lot better than his ranking but he seems to take advantage of poor displays from opponents rather than play out of his skin to beat someone. Stevens has the motivation of his home event and the fact his tour card is in danger to spur him on and I don’t expect him to make any mistakes here.
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