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Saturday, 22 September 2012

Shanghai Masters Final preview

Judd Trump will face off against John Higgins in the final of The Shanghai Masters tomorrow following their semi final victories over Mark Williams and Shaun Murphy respectively.The match will be a repeat of the 2011 World Final where Higgins was to prove victorious in what at the time looked like becoming the sports next big rivalry.That is not however how the last 16 months were to pan out..

At the time he won that World title his third in five years and his 4th in total Higgins was playing snooker at a level above anyone else in the world.He had returned from his six month ban earlier that season like a man who felt he had everything to prove again and determined to make the most of his second chance,That coupled with what sadly proved to be his fathers losing battle with cancer seemingly gave him extra determination to make every match count.

It was I suppose in retrospect inevitable that on the back of such an emotional rollercoaster of a year that when it stopped he would struggle to get it going again.What did surprise us though was with each passing tournament he just couldn't get going.This culminated in a humiliating defeat to Hendry in the 2012 World championships in what was probably his poorest display ever in the Crucible and once again those who were only twelve months earlier predicting he would dominate the game were this time writing him off.

This however is something we should by now know you can never do with Higgins. He went away during the summer sitting out the opening two ranking events and slowly rebuilt his game.It has been very noticeable this week that with each passing match his game has got sharper and that coupled with his growing confidence will make him very hard to beat in the final.

That task will fall to Judd Trump who himself has had a very interesting last 16 months.When he played Higgins in that 2011 world final Trump was riding the crest of a wave having finally lived up to his early promise by winning the China Open and beating the defending champion Neil Robertson on his way to the final.,He may have lost that match but his attacking style had endeared him to pundits and public alike and comparisons with Alex,Jimmy and Ronnie were been trotted out at every opportunity.

As last season started his star continued to rise and a couple of early season victories over Ronnie seemed to be heralding a changing of the guard,By the time December came he was flying and in a top quality UK Championship final he beat Mark Allen to win his first "Major".

Roll on to January and the Masters.Trump looked destined to further enhance his reputation up until he play Robertson in the semi.I think it is widely accepted that Robertson did a number on him in that game and it seemed to affect him for the rest of the season. Ho would go on to lose a number of matches from seemingly commanding positions as his ability to get over the line started to be called into question.

These questions continued right to this week and it is to his great credit that he put them to bed when he withstood the late comeback from Dott who fought back to force a decider from 4-1 down and today agannst Williams when he closed to 5-4.

So what can we expect tomorrow from a final that has two men who will feel they have something to prove?I think we are in for a proper high class final that could go fight to the wire with I feel possibly a Higgins win but don't quote me on that!

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