O’Donnell Downs The Whirlwind
Amateur Martin O’Donnell ended six-time world finalist Jimmy White’s bid for a Crucible return, beating him 10-4 at Cazoo World Championship Qualifying at the English Institute of Sport.
O’Donnell will regain his professional status next season after topping the Q Tour standings this term. He’s now two more wins away from a Crucible debut, having beaten Marco Fu in the previous round. The former UK Championship quarter-finalist now faces Thailand’s Noppon Saengkham in round three.
White will leave devastated not to have made the Crucible and will have to wait at least another year to compete in the final stages for the first time since 2006. He looks to be in a healthy position to retain his tour card via the one-year list after a positive season.
The Whirlwind thrilled fans with a run to the final stages of the UK Championship before Christmas, but he couldn’t repeat the feat here in Sheffield.
O’Donnell came into this afternoon’s session with sizeable 7-2 advantage. White took the first two of the session to give himself hope, but the deficit proved to be too much. O’Donnell won three on the bounce and secured his third round berth.
“He was my hero growing up. It was really hard to play him. Everyone wants him to win and I want him to win. It is mixed emotions,” said 36-year-old O’Donnell.
“I haven’t played a game out in the spotlight for that for a good while. I was a bit rusty and lacked a bit of composure in parts, but I’m glad I held myself together at the right times. My focus kicked in and I’ll look forward to the next one.
“There probably isn’t a tougher draw out there than the one I’ve had this year. They probably don’t want me either though. I’ll look forward to playing Noppon, I hope it is a good game and the best player will come out on top.”
Ukrainian 17-year-old Iulian Boiko scored a superb 10-5 win over Stuart Carrington to move within two victories of a dream Crucible debut.
Boiko’s first trip to world qualifying occurred in 2020, when he became the youngest ever player to compete in the event, aged 14. Months later he joined the professional circuit and was snooker’s youngest professional. However, Boiko’s time on the tour ended in relegation last season.
If he were to win his next two matches and reach the Theatre of Dreams, he would also receive a two-year tour card to return to the professional ranks next season. Boiko’s third round opponent is former European Masters winner Fan Zhengyi.
Dominic Dale took a huge step towards tour survival with a 10-6 win over Asjad Iqbal. However, the Welshman was unaware so much was riding on the tie
Dale came into the match provisionally ranked 64th, but today’s victory gives the two-time ranking event winner clear breathing space in the battle to stay on the circuit. Next up he faces former Welsh Open champion Jordan Brown.
Dale said: “Coming here I thought I was absolutely dead safe (for tour survival). That was why I didn’t even bother checking whether I needed to win that match. I suppose I am safe now. I don’t know but we will see.
“Playing at the Crucible is the Mecca of the game. I’d love to play there again in front of an audience. It has been too long and it has been so long now it might be a bit of a problem. The memories of the atmosphere and the feelings that are evoked are a bit distant now really.”
Si Jiahui averted what would have been the greatest ever comeback in a best of 19, holding off Austrian Florian Nuessle to win 10-7. China’s Si had led 9-1, but Nuessle roared back to within two frames. In the end Si got over the line and will play Tom Ford in the third round.
Ireland’s Aaron Hill scored an impressive 10-3 win over Michael White to set up a third round meeting with Chris Wakelin, while Halifax 16-year-old Stan Moody’s run was ended by Zhang Anda in a 10-3 loss. Zhang faces Chinese compatriot Xiao Guodong next.