Mark Joyce has not done much since reaching a career first ranking tournament quarter-final at the 2010 UK Championship.

However, he has a good excuse, and it is linked directly to that run to the last eight in Telford.

Joyce celebrated with a night out with friends in Birmingham but was attacked and sustained injuries which seriously affected his form.

He is remarkably sanguine about all this, preferring not to complain but just get his head down and try to rebuild his game and confidence.

Qualifying for the Welsh Open in Newport will help this to happen but Joyce has a tough opening round tie against Shaun Murphy, who has shown good form of late by reaching the Masters final and appearing in the semi-finals of the German Masters.

When Ding Junhui played Mark Davis in this season’s UK Championship the Chinese outrageously fluked the final pink for victory in the decider.

They meet again today. Davis has enjoyed a productive campaign while Ding is still to get going. He was well below his best in Berlin but may be building up to the right time of year to be playing well: April.

There are two final qualifying round matches held over to Newport because they feature Welsh players.

Ryan Day, whose recent form has been erratic, plays Michael Holt, who seems full of confidence since winning PTC10 in November.

Dominic Dale, doubling up as a pundit for BBC Wales, faces Sam Baird, who has also qualified for the World Open.

Indeed, Baird came close to reaching the Crucible last season even though nobody could quite work out why, as an amateur, he was in the World Championship at all.

His TV experience is limited but Dale knows well that, Mark Williams aside, the Welsh have a poor record on home soil.

Judd Trump’s first match as a professional was against Fergal O’Brien, whose renowned obduracy may frustrate the UK champion.

However, Trump will know exactly what is coming, just as O’Brien knows that his young opponent will try to pot him into submission.

Sport is always interesting when there is a clash of styles. Such matches are a test: of stamina, patience and tactics. And so they should be.

John Higgins is defending champion and plays the enigmatic Liang Wenbo, a player who just two years ago was in the top 16 but who is now out of the top 32.

Higgins will be highly fancied to come through providing he himself is fully focused rather than flat, which is how has appeared at times this season.

Steve Davis will doubtless receive much support against Ali Carter, a player whose love of the game seems to have gone walkabout this season.

Carter, though, will surely relish the chance to play one of the sport’s undisputed legends.


Anonymous said...

Was Baird an amateur? He was on the tour in 2009/2010 before dropping off so must have been a pro at some stage, so he probably kept his professional membership; after all, Tony Knowles still enters year after year.

Bruno said...


what was the website you were talking about in commentary today? I just heard you saying 'everybody should be thankful for a job realy well done'


Anonymous said...

I'll be interested to see who enters the worlds this year. I understand that to play in the PIOS you had to be an amateur (and therefore resign your WPBSA membership when you fell off the tour) but that rule doesn't apply to the PTCs(?) meaning only ex-tour players who want to take part in EBSA / IBSF events have to resign.

I think there could be 20-30 people in this bracket - meaning Tony Knowles could have much stiffer competition in the 'pre-qualifying' round of the worlds.

Dave H said...

I haven't done any commentary yet! It must have been someone else


Hi David. Stand-out performances, fo me, sofar, are, Steve Davis's 4-3 win over Alister Carter, with 2 Davis century breaks included. Also, Shaun Murphy's 4-2 win, from 2-0 down, against Mark Joyce.

A solid performace from Ding Junhui, aswell, in his 4-0 victory, over Mark Davis.


Hi David. good expireanced play from John Higgins, as he beat Liang Wenbo, 4-1. Higgins not at his best. Wenbo stuggled slightly more.

Great 4-2 victory for Sam Baird, over Dominic Dale. A superb 136 break, by Bird, the highlight.

Good battleing from Dale. Great win for Baird.

A good 4-0 win, earlier today, for Judd trump, over Fergal O'Brien.
Solid performace from trump. O'Brien, not at his best.

A great 4-0 win, also earlier today, for Michael Holt, over Ryan Day. A great Holt performace. Day, not at his best.

A great day's play, today, in my view. I can't wait for more, tomorrow.

Anonymous said...

That was Mike Hallett in the box talking about,