The fourth day of action in the British Open will see the third round of the tournament conclude on Thursday and then the entire last 16 of the competition played out on a busy and pivotal day of action inside the Centaur in Cheltenham.
We’ve seen plenty of shocks in this tournament already and big names have tumbled, as they often do in an event which has a random draw, but there are still a number of class acts waiting to entertain us over the two sessions of play.
The third round of the tournament concludes with two sets of matches on the tables in the afternoon session on Thursday. The main table sees the last two winners of the European Masters on the main table when Kyren Wilson faces the man who took the title from him in Barry Hawkins. Robbie Williams will look to follow up his win over John Higgins on Wednesday when he faces another Scot in the form of Scott Donaldson. Dave Gilbert is very much a potential challenger for this title when he takes on Ishpreet Singh Chadha while Xiao Guodong faces Sanderson Lam in the other game.
Two men who competed in the one-table setup at the Crucible in April meet on the main table in the second set of matches in the afternoon when the semi-finalist of the World Championship takes on the finalist as Si Jiahui plays Mark Selby. Jack Lisowski will have seen the big names drop like flies and he’ll look to make progress when he meets Matthew Selt. Tom Ford is another who might be liking what he sees in terms of who has exited the tournament. He plays Jimmy Robertson while Fan Zhengyi will go up against Rod Lawler.
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The entire last 16 will take place across two sets of matches in the evening session. The exact identity of all of the matches are still to be finalised but the main table in the first part of the evening will be occupied by Ding Junhui and Mark Williams who meet in the pick of the matches. Hossein Vafaei takes on Graeme Dott in this earlier slot. The other two matches will see Ali Carter taking on whoever comes out on top between Xiao Guodong and Sanderson Lam while the winner of the match featuring Tom Ford and Jimmy Robertson will face whoever comes out on top when Robbie Williams faces Scott Donaldson.
The main table in the last set of games on Thursday is likely to contain the winner of Mark Selby vs Si Jiahui taking on either Dave Gilbert or Ishpreet Singh Chadha. Three other matches will round off the day on the other tables too with either Barry Hawkins or Kyren Wilson facing He Guoqiang while Fergal O’Brien awaits the winner of the match between Jack Lisowski and Fergal O’Brien. Ma Heilong will also return to the baize in the latter part of the evening. He will meet either his fellow countryman Fan Zhengyi or Rod Lawler.
There was a lot to like about the performance of Robbie Williams when he took care of John Higgins on Wednesday and I’m a little surprised he isn’t a bit shorter than 10/11 to see off Scott Donaldson in the third round in the opening part of the afternoon on Thursday. We know that Donaldson has had health issues over the last 12 months but to be fair to him he isn’t having a bad season. He just doesn’t score like I think you need to at this stage of a tournament though.
Donaldson has just four breaks of 80 or more for the season whereas Williams has almost double that with seven which includes a century and a 91 break in that win over Higgins. Williams seems to have a liking for this tournament having made the semi-final of it last year and based on his display against Higgins he is geared up for another run. I hate backing players who are struggling to score in these shorter sprints and I’m not going to change that here.
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