The 2023 World Women’s Snooker Championship is down to the quarter-finals following a dramatic day of action at the Hi-End Snooker Club in Thailand which saw three-time world champion Ng On Yee among those upset at the last 16 stage.
Following the conclusion of a group stage that saw over 50 players from 12 countries set out in pursuit of the Mandy Fisher Trophy and a place on the World Snooker Tour, just eight remain with two knockout rounds also completed on Thursday.
In the top half of the draw there will be a match which features two of the world’s top four players after defending champion Mink Nutcharut and number four ranked Rebecca Kenna both progressed.
Thailand’s Nutcharut, who only last month became world number one for the first time in her career, found herself in the unusual position of having to play in the preliminary round after she finished second in her group following defeat to Bai Yulu in yesterday’s round robin stage. The 23-year-old would rise to the challenge, however, as she saw off India’s Natasha Chethan and England’s Mary Talbot-Deegan – who was the top seed from the group stages having progressed for the loss of just one frame – to keep the defence of her title alive.
For opponent Kenna it was to prove a rollercoaster day as she recovered from a 0-2 deficit against Australian talent Lilly Meldrum to win her final group stage match and avoid an early exit and like Nutcharut, progress to the preliminary knockout round. Following a 3-0 victory against Germany’s Diana Schuler, Kenna would face last season’s runner-up Wendy Jans in what would prove to be one of many thrilling evening session matches in Bangkok.
The contest swung one way and then the other as Kenna led three times, only for Jans to immediately respond, but it was the English player who would avenge her defeat to Jans in the recent Belgian Open with a green to pink clearance in the decider to seal victory. The result ensured that Kenna will maintain her record of having reached at least the quarter-finals during each of her appearances the World Championship to date.
The winner will take on either Siripaporn Nuanthakhamjam or Bayarsaikhan Narantuya, after the pair also came through dramatic matches to qualify. Thailand’s Siripaporn was competing in the event fresh from her run to the final of the recent Asia-Pacific Women’s Snooker Championship and faced fifth seeded Jamie Hunter after she progressed straight through to the last 16 as the winner of her group.
It was Hunter – a debut semi-finalist in 2022 – who edged the early exchanges to lead 2-0, before 2019 semi-finalist Nuanthakhamjan hit back to force a deciding-frame. Having come down to the colours, it was Nuanthakhamjan who played a fantastic shot on the final pink to cannon the final black into a pottable position and reach the last eight for the third time in her career.
Awaiting her will be tournament debutant Bayarsaikhan Narantuya, after the 28-year-old player from Mongolia stunned three-time world champion Ng On Yee 4-2 at the last 16 stage to reach the quarter-finals. One of four players representing Mongolia in the main competition, Narantuya had earlier defeated 2017 runner-up Vidya Pillai in the preliminary round to continue an impressive run on her first appearance in the event.
In the bottom half of the draw 12-time world champion Reanne Evans came through a 4-0 winner against compatriot Tessa Davidson to maintain her hopes of yet another record-extending victory in Thailand. Having dropped two frames during the group stage against Chu Pui Ying of Hong Kong, Evans came through a deceptively close match against Davidson in determined fashion to maintain her run.
Next up for her will be the recent Asia-Pacific Champion Ploychompoo Laokiatphong, who extended her current unbeaten run on the tour in all competitions to 11 matches following wins against Phakwalan Gong-gaew and Steph Daughtery in the knockout rounds. The result sees the 20-year-old equal her career-best run in the tourament, having also reached the quarter-finals in 2019.
The bottom section of the draw will see China’s Bai Yulu face England’s Maria Catalano in an intriguing tie at the foot of the draw. Bai Yulu has impressed throughout the tournament with 14 breaks over 30 recorded already during her six matches.
Having progressed as the winner from a group that featured world number one Mink Nutcharut and World Cup winner Amee Kamani, the 19-year-old avenged her defeat to India’s Anupama Ramachandran in the semi-finals of the Under-21 tournament two days earlier with a dominant 4-0 victory to continue a so far impressive Tour debut.
Her next challenge will see her up against five-time world championship finalist Maria Catalano, after the 41-year-old defeated Waratthanun Sukritthanes of Thailand and Hong Kong’s Ho Yee Ki to reach the quarter-finals for the first time since 2018.
The tournament will continue on Friday from 10:00am local time, with the start of the Challenge Cup for players who did not reach the last 16 and the finals of the Under-21 and Seniors tournaments also due to be played during the penultimate day of the event.