Selby survives scare, Ding through

Mark Selby rallied from the brink yesterday as he saw off home favorite Zhou Yuelong 6-5 in a five-hour second-round battle at the Shanghai Masters.
Dong Jun / SHINE

Barry Hawkins in action against Stephen Maguire of Scotland during their second-round match at the Shanghai Masters yesterday. The Englishman advanced with a 6-3 victory.

Mark Selby rallied from the brink yesterday as he saw off home favorite Zhou Yuelong 6-5 in a five-hour second-round battle at the Shanghai Masters.

The invitational event features the world’s top 16 ranked players and four top-ranked Chinese players, including Zhou, as well as four Chinese amateurs.

During the afternoon match yesterday, the top-ranked Selby took the upper hand by winning the first frame. Zhou answered with a break of 102 in the second, and charged ahead to claim the next two frames for an impressive 3-1 lead.

After the break, the two players were drawing 58-58 in the fifth frame before Selby pocketed the black to retake the lead and the frame. Zhou played steady in the next three frames, shockingly going ahead 5-3 to put Selby on the brink.

Selby, however, found his form in the nick of time — pulling two frames back and managing a score of 127-0 in the decider to advance to the quarterfinals.

Zhou had earlier overcome Belgian Luca Brecel in Monday’s first-round match to set up the clash with Selby. He was also the only Chinese qualifier to go through the first round.

In another match yesterday, world No. 7 Barry Hawkins from England saw off Scotland’s Stephen Maguire 6-3. He will take on the winner between Wales’ Mark Williams and Scot Anthony McGill in the quarterfinals.

Sixth-ranked Ding Junhui remained the only Chinese player at the tournament following compatriot Liang Wenbo’s 3-6 defeat to Kyren Wilson in a first-round match on Monday.

New-father Ding saw off the challenge of 11th-ranked Mark Allen of England 6-3 in one of the two second-round matches last night, with Wilson easing past fellow Englishman Judd Trump 6-2 in the other.

Defending champion Ronnie O’Sullivan of England will face Australian Neil Robertson in their second-round clash today, while Scotland’s John Higgins takes on Ryan Day of Wales.

Shaun Murphy earlier withdrew from the event due to personal reasons — his daughter was ill in hospital and the Englishman decided to pull out and stay with his family.

The Shanghai Masters had been a ranking tournament since 2007. Starting from this year, it becomes a 24-entry invitational event with a total prize money of 725,000 pounds (US$942,645). The new format also provides local players with more chances to learn from the top-ranked masters.

“Facing a top-16 player is both challenging and exciting,” said Guo Hua, who earned a spot at the Shanghai tournament after finishing runner-up at the national Amateur Masters. Guo lost 1-6 to Robertson in their first-round match on Monday.

“I only managed to show 20-30 percent of my skills. Had I made it to 60-70 percent, the match would have been more pleasing to watch,” Guo said, citing nervousness. “I didn’t do a good job in seizing opportunities during the match, something I need to improve upon. I really hope I can come back next year.”

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