Ryan Day’s streak of twelve wins in a row came to a disappointing climax on Thursday after a 6-3 defeat to fellow Welshman Mark Williams in the last eight of the Players Championship.
Day’s incredible run saw him collect trophies in both the Gibraltar Open and the Romanian Snooker Masters earlier this month but the latter event was only an invitational and the ranking event in Gibraltar provided one of the worst champion’s cheques on the campaign.
It all meant that despite the 37 year-old’s brilliant season, in which he also won a maiden ranking event title at the Riga Masters last summer and additionally reached the last four of the UK Championship in December, Day required a deep run on home soil this week to force his way into the top 16 in the rankings in an attempt to gain an automatic berth at the upcoming World Championship.
Day’s win over world number one Mark Selby on Tuesday at least got him into 16th place provisionally in the Race to the Crucible standings but he will need a huge slice of fortune to stay there before Sheffield, having not qualified for the China Open – the penultimate ranking tournament of the season.
Day was always second best against his countryman at the Venue Cymru and was forced to do the chasing after Williams established a 4-0 advantage at the mid-session interval thanks to runs of 124, 96, and 72.
To Day’s credit, he fought back gallantly after the resumption of play to get back to within just one frame but Williams, also a three-time winner on the Main Tour this term, compiled a terrific tournament-high 141 total clearance to pull clear again and the 42 year-old duly wrapped up the triumph in a scrappy final frame.
Williams, who won both the Northern Ireland Open and the German Masters in Berlin, has arguably been the standout player of the season other than Ronnie O’Sullivan and the pair is on course for what would be a grandstand finale on Sunday.
Meanwhile, defending champion Judd Trump dominated Neil Robertson with a 6-1 scoreline to set up a mouthwatering semi-final clash with the “Rocket” on Friday.
Robertson looked in good shape when he opened the contest with a break of 68 but Trump gradually took control and eased through with tallies of 61, 73, and an even 100 in the last frame.
O’Sullivan and Trump have had some memorable matches down through the years, including a 10-7 triumph for the younger Englishman in the World Grand Prix final at the same venue three years ago.
Earlier on Friday, the quarter-finals will finish with the remaining fixture between Shaun Murphy and Anthony McGill.