2017 World Snooker Championship (Days 7 & 8) - O'Sullivan & Higgins in the quarters

Two intense days of cue action here at the Crucible and we can already see the quarter-final matches shaping up as Ronnie O'Sullivan, John Higgins, Ding Junhui and Kyren Wilson have booked their places.

Ronnie O'Sullivan beat Shaun Murphy 13-7 in a real cracker, "The Rocket" proving to be very focused and determined to win.

The players ended their first session with the Essex-man in the lead 6-2, Murphy doing everything to catch up with his opponent and hitting a 70 break to reduce the gap.

Still, with Ronnie winning the next three frames with runs of 63, 75 and a beautiful 33 clearance to go 9-3 up, what was "The Magician" to do?

He needed to win big time and that's what he tried, breaks of 84, 73 and 87 helping him win three on a row before O'Sullivan won a real scrapper on the black to end the second session, 10-6.

A top break of 67 was quite enough for "The Rocket" to go 11-6 up, while a 55 break kept Murphy's hopes of a comeback alive.

But then Ronnie hit a marvellous 111 break to go one away from victory, followed by a 52 clearance it was crystal clear that this year's Crucible story was finished for Murphy. O'Sullivan won in grand style 13-7.

He will now meet an old pal, Ding Junhui who beat Liang Wenbo 13-12 in a match that kept us on tenterhooks.

Ding was sure to always be in the leading chair, ending the first session at 6-2 up, thanks to breaks of 111, 113, 53, 62 and 70.

The second one was no different, but Wenbo proved more dangerous managing to reduce the gap at just two frames, 9-7 by hitting in breaks of 84, 75, 130, 51 and 79.

However, a lot was at stake, so when the lads returned for the conclusion of their match, Wenbo used a set of breaks (58, 98 and 61) to go in the lead for the first time since the match started, at 10-9.

Ding was sure to draw level, but Wenbo put his nose in front once more, this time with a bit of help from a 85 break, to go 11-10.

Ding's response came immediately under the form of a 80 break to restore the balance, but as before Wenbo fought back to regain the lead with a top break of 50.

The pattern was broken when Ding Junhui hit in breaks of 132 and 70, this winning him the last two frames and also the match.

Another high-quality match and one with a lot of twist and turns was the one that took place between Mark Allen and John Higgins, the Scotsman prevailing by 13-9.

Although the first session was clearly dominated by Allen, who ended it in control at 5-3 up, things started changing a bit during their second encounter.

Higgins used breaks of 84 and 124 to win no less than four consecutive frames and get a well-deserved lead of 7-5.

Allen produced a great 116 to pull back a frame, but Higgins responded with a 72 to restore his dominance, the last two frames being shared as the scoreline was stopped at 9-7.

The last session started with a very eager to come back Allen, a break of 76 helping him to go just one behind his opponent, but Higgins used a 63 and a 120 to restore the two-frames gap.

Allen managed to win frame 20, but all the remaining ones were cashed by Higgins with runs of 46, 49 and 40, for a 13-9 final result.

The Scotsman will now face Kyren Wilson in the quarter-finals, "The Warrior" defeating the 2015 world champion, Stuart Bingham 13-10.

Wilson was sure to imposed his style of better cuing from the very beginning of the match almost flying at 5-0 up, ending the first session at 5-3 and the second at 9-7.

When the players returned for their last session Wilson extended his lead at 10-7 thanks to a break of 63, but Bingham hit a outstanding 137 (the biggest break of the tournament so far) to win two on a row and get closer to his opponent.

The reply came in no time, as Kyren won back-to-back frames to go 12-9 up and despite Bingham's effort of winning the 22nd frame with a solid 80 contribution, Wilson wrapped it up for a 13-10 victory.

In other matches, Neil Robertson beat Thailand's Noppon Saengkham 10-4 to set a Last 16 match against Marco Fu, while Barry Hawkins defeated Tom Ford 10-3 and now faces Graeme Dott.

World number one and reigning champion, Mark Selby holds a 6-2 overnight advatage over China's Xiao Guondong, while Stephen Maguire got the best of the first session against Rory McLeod and leads by the same scoreline.

Sunday's match schedule:

Neil Robertson v Marco Fu
Barry Hawkins v Grame Dott

Mark Selby 6-2 Xiao Guodong
Stephen Maguire 6-2 Rory McLeod

Neil Robertson v Marco Fu
Barry Hawkins v Grame Dott

*all hours are UK time

Photos credit: World Snooker 

2017 World Snooker Championship (Day 6) - Robertson & Hawkins book Last 16 round place

The last remaining two places in the 2017 Betfred World Snooker Championship Last 16 round have been booked, as both Neil Robertson and Barry Hawkins recorded significant victories over their opponents.

Neil Robertson held a 8-1 overnight advantage over Thailand's Noppon Saengkham, thanks to breaks of 76, 77, 61 and 113.

When returning for the conclusion of the match, his opponent tried and disturb his flow using just a top break of 54 to win two consecutive frames, before the Aussie could use a 70 and go one away from victory.

Somehow inspired by Marco Fu tremendous comeback from the other day, Saengkham tried his best to win one more frame, but it was a bit too late, as the 2010 world champion wrapped it up with a 76 break, for a well deserved victory of 10-4.

Barry Hawkins beat Tom Ford by a tremendous 10-3 result, after a first session where he dominated loud and clear, 7-2.

The 2013 World Championship runner-up cruised with breaks of 65, 52, 132 and 55 for a comfortable lead, Ford opening the second session with a half-century break to pull back a frame,

"The Hawk" took the one after and also the 12th frame (on the black!) to move even closer to the finish line and was sure to close the deal and secure his place in the next round at 10-3.

The first two of the  Last 16 round matches took place yesterday, the likes of Kyen Wilson and Ronnie O'Sullivan clearly imposing themselves on their opponents.

Ronnie O'Sullivan took on Shaun Murphy in a high quality match which first session shows a pretty in form and determined Rocket leading by 6-2.

The five-time world champion was the one to break the ice by using a superb 91 clearance, but Murphy responded in no time with a 84 to draw level.

Still, the mid-session interval was finding "The Rocket" flying high, breaks of 75 and 128 making the scoreline go 3-1 in his favour, scoreline pumped when the players returned, thanks to runs of 76 and 44. It was now 5-1.

"The Magician" dramatically won the 7th frame on the black, just in time to get his second frame of the match, but O'Sullivan closed with a 74 to end the first session in full control.

Their match will continue today from 2.30pm (UK time).

In a pretty similar manner, Kyren Wilson ended his first cues-crossing with Stuart Bingham, at 5-3 up, after using just two breaks of 71 and 70, to go 5-0 up!

The lads will return today from 10am and 7pm for the conclusion of their snooker special meeting.

Friday's match schedule:

Liang Wenbo v Ding Junhui
Stuart Bingham 3-5 Kyren Wilson

Shaun Murphy 2-6 Ronnie O'Sullivan 
Mark Allen v John Higgins

Liang Wenbo v Ding Junhui
Stuart Bingham 3-5 Kyren Wilson

*all hours are UK time

Photos credit: World Snooker

2017 World Snooker Championship (Days 4 & 5) - McLeod produces shock of the tournament

A lot had happened in the last two days of the 2017 Betfred World Snooker Championship and the fact that Rory McLeod managed to exit one of the top favourites for this year's title, Judd Trump is just one of them.

Judd Trump suffered an enormous shock after losing 10-8 to world number 54, Rory McLeod although the start of the match was clearly indicating him as the man in control.

The Bristolian flew at 4-0 up in no time, but saw himself closing the first session being led 5-4, the nightmare continuing in the last session as well.

The match itself was scrappy and even hard to follow, but despite having a shoulder injury Trump still produced a bit of his signature moves - the naughty snooker - that we all are used to.

Still, McLeod's grit helped him overcome everything and the fact that he turned each chance into a winning opportunity made the difference in the end as he won 10-8 and he'll now face Stephen Maguire in the Last 16.

Clearly, Trump was devastated and even skipped his press conference, which surely will have consequences for we all know it's practically a breach of players' contract.

Another shocker was the tremendous victory that the Chinese star, Xiao Guodong recorded over Welshman Ryan Day; a 10-4 victory to be more precise.

Xiao started in grand style, a top break of 62 helping him go 4-0 up, before Day could hit a 125 and a 72 to pull back three frames on a row.

What happened next was genuine dominance, for Guodong went 9-3 up, leaving his opponent to win just one more frame (with a very good 98 break, may I add) before closing the match.

He now faces the world number one and reigning world champion, Mark Selby.

Shaun Murphy is also through to the next round after beating Yan Bingtao 10-8, a victory that was not easily obtained for the Chinese player put Murphy in all sorts of trouble throughout the match.

The pair ended their first session with Murphy in the lead, at 6-3, a lead that he extended by taking the first frame of the last session.

Yan fought back and managed to conquer two consecutive frames and reduce the deficit with just a top break of 56, but Murphy was sure to counteract by taking the next two to go just one away from victory.

Breaks of 90 and 70 kept the match alive as Yan pushed his limits and tried to make a comeback (not leaving his opponent to pot any balls in the process), but winning-Murphy turned up just in time to end the match in frame 18.

A high quality match was the one featuring the names of Liang Wenbo and Stuart Carrington, the qualifier player trying his best to disturb Wenbo's flow and produce an upset. Sadly for him, he lost 10-7.

Carrington opened a 5-2 lead, after scoring heavily by using breaks of 55, 63, 124, 101 and 107 this actually meaning that he made history for he is now amongst the only four players to ever make three consecutive century breaks at the Crucible (John Higgins, Ronnie O’Sullivan, Mark Selby and Neil Robertson).

But as we all know it, making century breaks it's a great achievement but it doesn't win you the match, at least not always, so when Wenbo came back with breaks of 79 and 60 to pull back two frames, the game was pretty much on.

Carrington drew level at 6-6 with a top break of 50, Wenbo responded with a 71 to go back in the lead, Carrington made it 7-7 but from that point on it was all Wenbo's doing as the Chinese player cruised towards victory.

John Higgins beat Martin Gould 10-6, while Ding Junhui ended Zhou Yuelong's dream of reaching the Last 16 round after using a myriad of breaks (60, 57, 54, 136, 78, 103, 132, 67 and 68) for a 10-5 victory.

Graeme Dott has also safely landed in the next round after a 10-7 defeat of the Captain - Ali Carter, where he will meet the winner of the match Barry Hawkins v. Tom Ford.

Today will the see the conclusion of the last two matches of the first round but also the start of the first two Last 16 ones. This should be epic, so be sure to watch them all!

Thursday's match schedule:

Neil Robertson 7-1 Noppon Saengkham
Stuart Bingham v Kyren Wilson

Barry Hawkins 7-2 Tom Ford
Shaun Muprhy v Ronnie O'Sullivan

*all hours are UK time

Photos credit: World Snooker

2017 World Snooker Championship (Day 3) - Fu comes back for glory

It was about time to witness a bit of late night drama and seems like the third day of cue action here at the Crucible was the perfect one as Marco Fu managed to perform a spectacular comeback after being led 7-2 by Luca Brecel and win 10-9.

Belgium's best held an overnight advantage of 7-2 over Fu, but a totally different player entered the stage on Monday, the Hong Long cue-man using breaks of 78 and 83 to win the first two frames of the session.

Brecel took the best out of frame 12 thanks to a top break of 56, but it was Fu who ran wild firing in runs of 46, 40, 28 and 29 to go just one behind his opponent to which he added another frame dramatically won on the black to draw level at 8-8.

Frame 17 came and with it a bit of controversy as the ref in charge, Paul Collier call for a "push shot" on Luca Brecel this stopping his break. However, the Belgian prodigy found enough strength to overcome his hiccup and used a brilliantly cued 78 to go just one away from victory.

Drama kicked in when Marco responded with a 85 to force the decider, a decider that he conquered with runs of 46 and 56 for a place in the next round. Tremendous display of stamina!

At the near table, Mark Allen beat Jimmy Robertson 10-8 after an outstanding battle of cues.

The North-Irishman had a 5-4 advantage over his opponent, but Robertson turned tables with just a top break of 62 to take the lead.

From this point on, the lads went side by side up until frame 18 which was cashed by Allen with a break of 97 to seal his victory.

The same 10-8 scoreline was recorded by Shaun Murphy in front of the arising Chinese star, Yan Bingtao, which he led 6-3 after the first session.

Yan got the most of the first three frames (two, to be more precise), while his opponent only cashed one, this allowing the Chinese player to reduce the gap at 7-5.

But Murphy found no difficulty into hitting a ton (109) and winning another frame to go just one away from victory, at 9-5.

The revenge was epic, as Yan hit in breaks of 94, 70 and 47 to win no less than three consecutive frames, before "The Magician" closed the deal with a 44 clearance.

Stuart Bingham has also wrote his name on the list of players that reached the Last 16 after a 10-5 victory obtained in front of Peter Ebdon.

In other matches, Ding Junhui ended his first session on a 7-2 result against Zhou Yuelong, the same scoreline being recorded by John Higgins after facing Martin Gould.

Tuesday's match schedule:

Liang Wenbo v Stuart Carrinton
John Higgins 7-2 Martin Gould

Ding Junhui 7-2 Zhou Yuelong
Judd Trump v Rory McLeod

Liang Wenbo v Stuart Carrinton
Ali Carter v Graeme Dott

*all hours are UK time

Photos credit: World Snooker