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Weekly Round-up in Snooker

There isn’t any snooker competition on at the moment but let’s have a quick recap of what’s been happening since our last round-up.

Ronnie’s Shanghai Love Affair Continues

The Shanghai Masters concluded on Sunday and there was a familiar conclusion as Ronnie O’Sullivan captured the title at the expense of Shaun Murphy.

O’Sullivan wasn’t quite at his dazzling best throughout the tournament, his first of the 2019/20 campaign, but was still able to emerge on top from a high-quality field in China.

Triumph for the “Rocket” represented the third time in a row that he has bagged the big prize in Shanghai, and the fourth time in total since the event’s inception a dozen years ago.

The world number two clearly loves the snooker competition as well as the city, and it’s hard to blame him.

In its current guise as China’s most prestigious invitational, a position it took up last year after more than a decade staged as a ranking event, it suits O’Sullivan down to the ground.

Known for loving tournaments with elite line-ups, O’Sullivan also excels in venues that generate good atmospheres and, when it comes to Chinese snooker, there’s none better than the buzz that is churned out in Shanghai.

O’Sullivan pocketed a cool £200,000 for his exploits and has improved on an incredible recent record that has seen him emerge victorious in six out of the last twelve events he’s participated in.

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Queen Evans of the UK

The other snooker competition that reached its climax on Sunday was the UK Women’s Snooker Championship, which saw Reanne Evans beat Maria Catalano 4-2 in the final for a record ninth success.

The victory – her seventh consecutive title – sees the world number one maintain her current 11-month unbeaten run on the World Women’s Snooker Tour.

Having started her campaign with a win against Zoe Killington, 33-year-old Evans survived a scare against Hong Kong’s Fong Mei Mei at the quarter-final stage before coming through a 3-2 winner.

Evans then comfortably defeated namesake Laura Evans in the semi-finals to reach an unprecedented twelfth UK final.

There she would face close friend Maria Catalano, who previously won the event back in 2012 and had reached the final on a further five occasions prior to 2019.

Catalano defeated Connie Stephens on Saturday before surviving hard-fought matches with promising youngsters Emma Parker and Thailand’s Ploychompoo Laokiatphong to progress to the title decider.

Catalano, O’Sullivan’s cousin, made the stronger start to the final and lead 2-1, before Evans snatched what would prove to be a pivotal fourth frame on the black to level the scores.

From there, she began to take control of the match, winning the fifth frame to move in front for the first time before comfortably adding the sixth to crown victory.

“It was patchy this weekend, but I felt good even when I played bad so I knew it [form] was there,” said Evans.

“Overall, I am really pleased – to play Maria in the final again was good. It is always a bit awkward to play against your best mate, but I’m just glad to see her back after last year [Maria lost her father shortly before the same event in 2018] so this one is for her.”

“She didn’t want to enter and we sort of made her treat it as a holiday, but she relaxed and to be fair she played a little bit better than me. I just dug in there and waited for my chances.”

Evans Joins Champion of Champions Line-up

An added bonus for Evans on Sunday was that O’Sullivan’s Shanghai Masters glory meant that she was guaranteed a spot in this year’s Champion of Champions.

It was announced after her latest World Women’s Championship triumph that the Englishwoman would be added to the list of possible invitees for the prestigious invitational.

With three tournaments left on the qualifying criteria and with so many champions who have enjoyed multiple successes across the last year, Evans is now assured of a maiden berth at the Ricoh Arena.

Jimmy White fans will be anxiously awaiting the results of the upcoming China Championship, English Open, and World Open because another repeat winner will mean that the “Whirlwind” will gain a spot too, on the back of his World Seniors Championship win last month.

SWSA to Close

Finally, owner Paul Mount announced on Tuesday that his South West Snooker Academy and Capital Venue would be ceasing to exist in the near future.

The SWSA burst onto the scene in 2010 as an excellent new facility in Gloucester and immediately benefited from the change in regime that resulted in Barry Hearn taking over at the helm of the sport.

For several years, the SWSA staged minor ranking events and qualifiers, and regularly hosted many of the game’s top professionals.

The annual Pink Ribbon was another popular tournament that was staged in aid of charity, with the pro-am raising more than £100,000.

Mount said: “I would like to thank all those that supported the SWSA, especially the Pink Ribbon, and trust you have enjoyed your visits to us and have some of your own magical memories from this place.”

What’s Coming?

The next snooker competition on the calendar is the China Championship, which gets under way on Monday in Guangzhou with coverage again on Eurosport.

Also scheduled for this weekend is the second leg of the Challenge Tour, with the Crucible Sports and Social Club in Newbury hosting 64 of the best amateurs in the game.

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