Michael Holt Halts the Rocket – Again

Ronnie O’Sullivan is out of the International Championship after losing 6-4 to Michael Holt in the third round on Wednesday.

Michael Holt RIga
Holt will play Bingham in the quarter-final.

At the start of 2016, Holt boasted just one solitary victory over the five-time world champion, but that has dramatically changed since after recording a hat-trick of wins this year.

Holt had been full of confidence from wins against the ‘Rocket’ in the Welsh Open and Shanghai Masters, while an impressive success over Neil Robertson in the World Championship supported by a subsequent run to the final of the Riga Masters in the summer further cemented his progression of late.

The 38 year-old had long been considered a player with immense talent, but one lacking the temperament necessary to perform consistently at the elite level.

However, since starting to work with renowned coach Terry Griffiths, Holt’s attitude both on and off the table has improved dramatically – highlighted obviously by the recent results he has managed to achieve.

O’Sullivan was nowhere near his best today in Daqing but that won’t matter a jot to the ‘Hitman’.

Meanwhile, the top five seeds all advanced to the last eight of the most lucrative ranking event in China.

World champion Mark Selby was pushed the most, once again surviving the brink to fight back from 5-4 down and pip the in-form Liang Wenbo in a thrilling decider.

Selby would have perhaps been expecting to play Neil Robertson for a place in the semi-finals but the Australian lost 6-2 to close pal Joe Perry for a second successive meeting.

Perry had also recorded a similar triumph over the Riga Masters champion en route to his final appearance in the World Open earlier this campaign.

The cuiest who emerged victorious in that event in Yushan, Ali Carter, was unable to match Perry’s upset with the ‘Captain’ crashing out to world no.2 Stuart Bingham 6-1.

Shaun Murphy repeated that scoreline in his rout of Sam Baird, aided by a high break of 101, while defending champion John Higgins required just one extra frame in his 6-2 defeat of talented Chinese teenager Zhou Yuelong.

Higgins will come up against an entire nation next after Ding Junhui held off a stirring revival from Ricky Walden, who compiled a 130 and a 124 in forcing a decider from 5-2 down.

It looked for large periods of the final frame that Walden was going to pinch it in the battle of the former champions, but Ding managed to squeak through.

To confound Walden’s misery, the 33 year-old from Chester will now drop out of the top 16 in the world rankings because he has failed to defend enough of his earnings from his 2014 triumph when this event was last staged in Chengdu.

Elsewhere, Judd Trump, who won the inaugural staging of this tournament back in 2012, fired in a brace of tons in an entertaining 6-3 triumph over veteran James Wattana.

Trump, who will play fellow Englishman Murphy on Thursday, has won 17 out of his last 18 encounters.

A high quality line-up remains in the hunt for the £125,000 winner’s cheque then, with seven out of the last eight contenders hailing from the top 10 in the world rankings list.

Click here to view the rankings. 


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