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Wednesday, 29 October 2014

international Championship Last 16.

Last 16 day in Chengdu and the question remains the same, can anyone stop Ronnie O 'Sullivan claiming another big title?

One thing is for sure,if someone is to stop Ronnie,they are going to have to play very what we have here this week is a very focused O'Sullivan,who is feeling more confident with every  match.Todays performance did't have the centuries that highlighted his victory over McGill yesterday,but the scoreline was the same. with "The Rocket" running out a comfortable 6-1 winner over Li Hang.

In the quarter final Ronnie will face a familiar foe in the shape of Mark Williams,who kept up his recent  good form winning the last three frames from 4-3 down to eventually see off Sam Baird 6-4.

The standout match on paper today was the clash between Stuart Bingham & Mark Allen. This,of course was a rematch of the recent Shanghai master final that Bingham won,but it was Allen who got the better start today,taking him to a 3-1 lead. Bingham though started to find some form and won the next three to lead 4-3.however Allen was not to be denied,running off a three in a row of his own,to seal a 6-4 win.

His opponent in the Quarters will be Michael White after the young Welshman continued his progress here with a 6-2 defeat of Ian Burns

In the bottom half of the draw,Joe Swail couldn't repeat his giant killing exploits from yesterday as he went down 6-4 to Ricky Walden.

Walden will next face Jamie Burnett who provided the one shock of the day,beating former world champion Peter Ebdon 6-2.

Marco Fu also kept on track for another final appearance in Chengdu after he finally saw off the dogged resistance of Rod Lawler to prevail 6-4 and set up a last 8 encounter with Rob Milkins who also beat Xiao Guodong 6-4.

So there we have  and after all the shocks of recent days we stil have some tasty matches to look forward to tomorrow.Lets hope a few more people show up at the venue to see them!

Last 8 draw
Michael White v Mark Allen
Mark Williams v Ronnie O'Sullivan
Ricky Walden v Jamie Burnett
Marco Fu v Robert Milkins

Tuesday, 28 October 2014

International Championship Story so far.

Three days into the 2014 International Championship in Chengdu and with the big names continuing to drop like flies the question is,as we enter the last 16,can anyone stop Ronnie O'Sullivan from claiming the title here come Sunday.

Lets start though with the shocks  and they don't come much bigger than the 6-5 victory of Joe Swail over Neil Robertson. All this seemed a million miles away when Robertson went into an early 3-0 lead before Swail closed to 3-2..Robertson again asserted to move within one of victory at 5-3,but showing the fighting qualities that have marked his whole career Swail dug in to make it 5-5 before winning the decider for a famous win.

He will next play Ricky Walden who also had to dig deep to edge past Zhao Yeulong,winning the last two frames to record a 6-5 win.

That result came after Robert Milkins turned the recent form book on its head earlier,beating Shaun Murphy 6-1 to set up a last 16 clash with Xiao Goudong,who scrapped past Noppon Saengkham 6-5,but the shocks did not finish there, as Jamie Burnett fought back to win the last two frames to beat 2012 champ Judd Trump 6-5.

Trump had seemed to weather the storm,despite not playing his best,,when he turned a 4-2 deficit into a 5-4 lead,but when he let a chance to close the match slip in the next it allowed Burnett to make a gritty clearance to level it, before sealing his win in the decider.He will now face Peter Ebdon who earlier had impressively beat Joe Perry 6-1

 As all this carnage was happening around him O'Sullivan looks to be in ominously good form  as he put a sluggish start against Ben Woollaston in the first round behind him,to cruise to a 6-1 victory over Anthony McGill in round two. He will next play Li Hang who started the shock results rolling here on Sunday with a 6-1 win over John Higgins and followed it today with another 6-1 win this time over Zhao Xintong

In other results Michael White continued his good start to the season beating Mitchell Mann 6-4 & will next meet Ian Burns who defeated Craig Steadman 6-3.

Mark Williams showed signs of returning to something near his best with a 6-2 defeat of Barry Hawkins and will next face Sam Baird who beat Mark Davis 6-5.

Marco Fu continued his quest to go one better here than last year,beating David Gilbert 6-5 and will next play Rod Lawler who ended the hopes of Fergal O'Brien with a comprehensive 6-1 win.and the remaining last 16 clash will see a rematch of last monthes  Shanghai Masters final with Stuart Bingham facing Mark Allen after Bingham beat Day 6-3 & Allen edged Gould 6-4 in a high quality clash.

Last 16 Draw
Michael White v Ian Burns
Stuart Bingham v Mark Allen
Mark Williams v Sam Baird
Li Hang v Ronnie O'Sullivan
Joe Swail v Ricky Walden
Peter Ebdon v Jamie Burnett
Robetr Milkins v Xiao Guodong
Marco Fu v Rod lawler

Friday, 24 October 2014

International Championship preview.

Well after what  has been a stuttering start to the 2014/15 season,consisting of three full ranking events and a few PTC's,things really begin to pick up pace over the next month with "China's Major" the International Championship starting things off next week in Chengdu.

This tournament of course is a relatively new one on the circuit,but from the outset with its format and prize money it is obviously hoped that in time it will become equivalent to the UK Championship in terms of  stature in the game.

For this this to happen some would argue,as has been the case in its first two years,it needs to continue to be won by the sports biggest names,but two of our brightest stars wont be among those who line up next week having fallen victim to the qualifying round in Barnsley.

The first of these is defending champion Ding Junhui,who,just as was the case with the Wuxi Classic,failed to negotiate the round of 128. I do get the case for the flat draw system,but surely situations like we have here,where practically unknown local wildcards will be playing at the venue next week & China's number one will  not cannot be good for the game. There must be a way around this that satisfies everyone.

The other noticeable absentee is our World Champion Mark Selby who uncharacteristically let a 4-0 lead slip against young Oliver Lines,going down in the end 6-4.This at the time was a major shock,but since then Lines,who is on tour courtesy of his victory in the European Under 21 Championship,has continued to make waves in his first season,following this up with a fine run in the Bulgarian Open and just this morning losing out to Stuart Bingham in the final APTC 2.It would appear,far from that win against Selby been a flash in the pan,that this is definitely a young man we will be hearing plenty more of in the coming yrs.

In the absence of Ding the top quarter looks on all recent form to be a shoot out between Stuart Bingham & Mark Allen.As iIve said already above Bingham this morning added APTC2 to the Shanghai Masters title he won last month, where incidentally in the final he beat Allen.These two are on course for a last 16 meeting here and it would surprise me if the winner of that clash didn't reach the semi final with perhaps only Michael White potentially throwing a spanner in the works.

Into the second quarter & with Ding & Selbys absence it was no doubt a relief to the organisers  that Ronnie O'Sullivan managed to negotiate the first round and will cue up here on Sunday.He faces a potentially tricky opener against Ben Woollaston,but should he  get through there "The Rocket" might start to fancy the job  in a quarter of the draw that,if near his best,shouldn't pose many problems,albeit he may have to face to granite Scottish pair of McManus & Higgins.

Into the third quarter and it may well be a rematch of the 2012 final here with Robertson v Trump that decides it. Robertson,despite a victory in the Wuxi Classic,hasn't produced the consistent form that was his trademark last season just yet,but the season is still young and it will surely come. Trump also has an early season ranking title to his name from his victory in Australia, has rarely since reached the level he did in collecting this trophy two yrs ago.All that said though however this slightly longer format suits both these men and they should enjoy good runs here.

The fourth quarter in the absence of Selby is again an open one,but surely its wide open for Shaun Murphy,who has been brimming with confidence lately to make a real impact in this tournament with the main dangers to him perhaps been,Stephen Maguire,Marco Fu and that young man Oliver Lines who will be looking for a few more major scalps.

The action gets underway on Sunday with Eurosport providing extensive coverage all week.

Monday, 15 September 2014

Shanghai Masters Final - Triumph for Bingham

Stuart Bingham is the 2014 Shanghai Masters champion  after he beat Mark Allen 10-3 in a one sided final yesterday.

Bingham,who away from the limelight  had been probably one of weeks best performers,started like a train in this one winning the opening four frames to lead 4-0 at the first interval.Allen finally got off the mark in the next but the following two were shared to make it 5-2. .A 69 from Allen in the next made it 5-3 with one frame left in the session.

The importance of that frame in the context of the match seemed to get to both players as things got very scrappy,but it was Bingham who eventually took it to lead 6-3,which was in truth a fair reflection of how the session had gone.

Into the final session and another scrappy frame to open,again went to Bingham to move him to 7-3  and from here he never looked back as he went on to win the next three to secure a 10-3 victory/

Glory has come late in the day for Bingham who won his first ranking event aged 35 in the 2011 Australian Open,but few have embraced this new era of snooker with the enthusiasm Stuart has and his "have cue will travel" attitude  has reaped some rich rewards over the last few seasons..

For Allen,though he will be disappointed  to have not made a better game of it yesterday,but this was his third final of the season so far and hopefully he can kick on again and challenge for more titles as the year progresses.

The other news to come this week was the postponement of The Indian Open which has now been switched to March meaning,except for a couple of PTC events in Europe & China we have to wait until the end of October and the International Championship before we see another full ranking event.I would suggest some of our games big stars use this time wisely to tune up ahead of what is going to be a busy time of it from then on.

Saturday, 13 September 2014

Shanghai Masters Semi Final round up

The final of the 2014 Shanghai Masters will see Mark Allen face off against Stuart Bingham following a day of comebacks and high drama that certainly gave the crowd their money's worth.

What was to come seemed a million miles away in the first of the days semi finals when Mark Selby flew out of the blocks to take a convincing 3-1 lead over Mark Allen at the interval. That lead became 5-2 shortly after and it seemed only a matter of time until the World Champ sealed the frame he needed to reach another final,but Allen had other ideas.He took a close eighth to close to 5-3 and from here he produced his best snooker of the match,winning the next two with breaks 115 & 64 to level things up a 5-5.

Into that decider then and Selby seemed to have weathered the storm as set about constructing what looked likely to be a match winning break. This wasn't to be however,as a needless attempt to split the reds with his break on 63,left him out of position and a series of scoring visits,the last of which followed a missed pink from Selby to the centre,allowed Allen to clear the colours and claim the 6-5 win on the black.

This win will no doubt have satisfied Allen a great deal having seen been the victim of a similar comeback from Selby in the final of the Riga Open a couple of months back.This time it was the Irishman who out-Selbyed Selby to keep up,what in recent seasons,has been an impressive overseas record

Another payer with a fine record when on his travels is Stuart Bingham,but playing the defending champion Ding Junhui in front of his own crowd,he came into today as the firm underdog.
That seemed to be an accurate reflection of the match when Ding opened up a 4-2 lead,but then something extraordinary happened. Ding seemed to lose his concentration and Bingham started to score in the fashion that had seen him reach this stage of the tournament with the minimum of fuss,

Breaks of  63,59 & 97  were enough to see Bingham reel off four frames in a row and secure his place in the final with a 6-4 victory.

So there we have it, not the final any of us would have been expecting,but a fascinating one none the less. Going on form during the week, Bingham has certainly been the more consistent,but Allen produced his very best stuff in his win over Selby and will no doubt have been filled with confidence following that.

This is really too close to call but with a gun to my head I would slightly favour Allen.

Friday, 12 September 2014

Shanghai Mastersc Quarter Finals round up.

Quarter finals day at the Shanghai Masters and we had a day of relative calm in three of the matches and a real nail biter in the other.

Lets the straight forward results out of the way first.Ding Junhui is still firmly on course to defend the title he lifted here 12 months ago after a convincing 5-2 victory over Graeme Dott. Time was when the weight of expectation seemed to stifle Ding in his home events,but that certainly now it seems well in the past and he will take some stopping this weekend.

His semi final opponent will be Stuart Bingham,who brought the run of Alan McManus to an end,beating the Scot 5-1.

Thins did not fair any better for McManus's fellow veteran Fergal O'Brien,as the Irishman went down 5-0 to Mark Selby. This one could have been a bit closer if at 2-0 down Fergal had managed to take either of the close frames that followed,but he couldn't manage it and Selby wrapped up the whitewash with a 76 break in the last.

The other quarter final also had a one sided look to it when Mark Allen took a tight fifth frame to lead Michael White 4-1,but from here the Welshman found some form,knocking in breaks of 85,83 & 76 to level it up at 4-4. In the decider both had their chances,but it was Allen who eventually fell over the line to win 5-4.

The semi finals take place tomorrow with that Ding v Selby final still very much on the cards.

Thursday, 11 September 2014

Shanghai Masters Last 16 round up.

Day four at the 2014 Shanghai Masters and home favouite Ding Junhui stayed firmly on course to defend the title he won here last yr,but not without an early scare against Martin Gould.

As always against the very best player Gould knew he needed a good start here to have a chance and thats what he got,taking the opening frame and a lengthy second to lead 2-0. From here though Ding visibly stepped up a gear and leveled at 2-2 going to the interval.

On the resumption of play Ding extended that lead to 4-2 to stand one away from victory & although Gould managed to pull one back,it was Ding who sealed his place in the last 8 winning the next to secure the 5-3 victory

His quarter final opponent will be Graeme Dott after the Scot won the battle of the former world champions,beating Shaun Murphy 5-3.

World Champion Mark Selby is also well in the hunt for another title after he survived a mid match revival from Michael Holt,which saw Holt level at 3-3 from 3-0 down,to eventually secure a 5-3 win.

Next up for him is Irish veteran Fergal O'Brien,who continued his decent start to the season by defeating Zhao Xindong 5-3.

A free scoring start to this saw the opening six frames shared in this one,before things got a little scrappier & the experience of the Dubliner showed as he ran out a 5-3 winner.Although he did reach the final of a PTC event last yr this is the first time Fergal has reached a full ranking quarter final since 2007. A hard worker at his game,he will not be intimidated by playing the World champ

Talking of veterans,Alan McManus continued his recent resurgence,following up his victory over Ronnie in the last round with a comprehensive 5-1 defeat of his fellow Scot Stephen Maguire here.

It has really been a remarkable few monthes for McManus,who was a quarter finalist at the Crucible in April & he will go into his last 8 encounter with Stuart Bingham here brimming with confidence.Bingham for his part reached this stage with an easy 5-1 dismissal of Dominic Dale.

Tee remaining Quarter final could potentially be the most exciting as Mark Allen takes on Michael White.

Allen reached this stage with a 5-1 victory over Mark Williams & White defeated fellow Welshman Ryan Day 5-2.

So there we have it.8 will become 4 tomorrow as we  approach the business end of things over the weekend. The draw points to a Ding v Selby final,but when have such things in our sport ever been straight forward!

Quarter Final draw 
Ding Junhui v Graeme Dott
Alan McManus v Stuart Bingham
Mark Allen v Michael White
Mark Selby Fergal O'Brien