I attended my final session of the 2016 World Snooker Championship on Sunday evening to watch the middle eight frames of the second round matches between Mark Allen and Kyren Wilson, and Judd Trump and Ding Junhui.
Mark Allen v Kyren Wilson
Having defeated Joe Perry in a final frame decider, Shanghai Masters champion and qualifier Kyren Wilson had made a blistering start to his second round match with Mark Allen – taking all of the first seven frames and ultimately ending the morning session with a massive 7-1 lead.
But as one of the highest remaining seeds in the tournament, Allen was going to be no pushover and some sort of a comeback felt inevitable.
The Northern Irishman couldn’t have made a better start to the evening session, firing back-to-back centuries to reduce the deficit to 7-3. Two further breaks of 60 and 66 from Allen then followed as he made it five in a row to go from 0-7 to 5-7.
As a man who has never reached a World Championship quarter-final before, most will have expected Wilson to begin feeling the pressure as three-time ranking event winner charged back at him. But he showed few signs of nerves as a break of 82 saw him win his first frame of the evening before taking the next to move 9-5 ahead.
The final two frames of the session were huge and potentially match-deciding, so naturally they were tense affairs. Wilson took the penultimate frame by just nine points before winning the last in incredible fashion, coming from needing a snooker to take it on the black and end the session with a seemingly unassailable 11-5 lead in this first-to-13 battle.
Judd Trump v Ding Junhui
With two of the game’s biggest names going head-to-head, this session was one of the most highly anticipated of the tournament so far. However, it struggled to live up to it’s billing as the two players struggled throughout – scoring only two breaks over 50 between them in the eight frames.
The first session of this second round match had also taken place this morning and it was Ding Junhui who led 6-2 at it’s conclusion, taking all four frames after the interval to build a considerable advantage.
Judd Trump reduced his arrears by taking the first of the evening but the man from China hit straight back to regain a four-frame advantage at 7-3.
A 74 break, the highest of the session, earned Trump the eleventh frame to make it 7-4. However, he simply could not shake of the world number 17 as he won the next to make it 8-4 at the mid-session interval.
In all honesty, it was a poor quality affair as the two players struggled to take advantage of numerous opportunities provided to them. A break of 61 from Ding in the penultimate frame offered a rare piece of break-building as the two players shared the next four frames, meaning the Chinese player would lead 10-6 heading into tomorrow afternoon’s concluding session.