Last week, Mark Selby comfortably defeated Ronnie O’Sullivan 9-3 in the final of the Scottish Open to retain the Stephen Hendry Trophy. Unlike other finals this season, this one was disappointing due to a poor performance from the world champion. Selby deserved the win after producing the best snooker seen during that week. He made his debut in the Scottish Open last year and since then he has never been defeated in this event. That is Selby's second ranking title of the season, which puts him tied with Judd Trump.
The last tournament of the year was the World Grand Prix this week. Only the top 32 players in the one-year list were competing. Former champions are Judd Trump (2015, 2019), Shaun Murphy (2016), Barry Hawkins (2017), and Ronnie O'Sullivan (2018). Defending champion and reigning UK champion Niel Robertson faced Robert Milkins (The Milkman) in the first round and lost 4-2.
The first finalist is world number one Judd Trump. Unsurprisingly consistent, he edged past Michael Holt (4-3) in the first round to stay in contention and managed to do it again in the second round against Stuart Bingham (4-3). Having twice avoided an early exit, Trump eased through his quarter-final encounter against Martin Gould with a 5-2 win. Then, his opponent in the semi-final was the world champion Ronnie O'Sullivan. What followed was another heavy defeat (6-1) for the world champion. Trump won the first three frames and made a break of 65 in the fourth, which O'Sullivan replied with a 71 counter-clearance to win his first and only frame before the mid-session interval. Never intimidated and showing great confidence, Trump won the last three frames with a pair of centuries and a break of 69 to end the match. Although being the favorite, Trump had never beaten O'Sullivan in a semi-final before; their last clash in a semi-final was in the 2019 Coral Tour Championship, an exciting best-of-19 match that lasted more than 5 hours and went all the way to a deciding frame won by O'Sullivan on the very last ball.
Trump will play his fifth final of a ranking event this season (Championship League, English Open, Northern Ireland Open, UK Championship and World Grand Prix). This fact alone is enough proof of his dominance in the sport over the past few years. A possible third ranking event win over the last few months would make a very nice Christmas gift for him. And for snooker fans it is always a pleasure to watch him play because he has been taking the game to a whole new level.
The other finalist is Jack Lisowski. He seems to be unlocking his full potential. In terms of technique, he is one of the best players to watch, if not the best. Jack defeated Shaun Murphy 4-2 in the first round, Robert Milkins 4-0 in the second round and Zhao Xintong 5-3 in the quarter-final.
The semi-final was mouthwatering. Jack Lisowski started pretty well with breaks of 88, 89, 110 and 72 that helped him build a 5-1 lead. Selby won the seventh frame with the highest break of the tournament (143) and Jack had an opportunity to end the match in the eighth frame, but missed a blue playing with his right hand. Selby resumed his comeback by winning the next couple of frames, and then he missed a red with the rest in the tenth frame. Jack counter-attacked with a clearance of 78 to get to the final.
Jack Lisowski will play world number one Judd Trump in the final of the last event of 2020. That is another opportunity for Jack to win his first ranking title. Obviously, Trump is the favorite, but anything can happen in snooker. Selby was the favorite in the semi-final but lost to the young player. The last ranking final of the year is a best-of-19 that will give the champion 100 thousand ranking points. Enjoy!
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