I think it's fair to say that those of us who were anticipating a week of top class action got exactly what we were expecting on day one as both matches showed us why,despite what some might say,snooker is not a sport that needs messing around with.We already have a sport that delivers everything any sportsfan could want.
Om to day two and the first match up pitted the tours two most recent winners from last weeks rounds of the championship league,John Higgins and Ali Carter against each other.A question that is often asked is what is it that separates a great player from a good player and the answer is not how well they can play, because all these boys can pot,its how they handle themselves and react to the situations they find themselves in.Todays match was a perfect example of this as after about 40 minutes of play john Higgins was sitting in his seat 2-0 down and must have been wondering how.
Higgins had been first in in the opening frame and seemingly coasting on 59 when he missed a straight forward black.Carter came to the table and cleared up 1-0..In frame two Higgins again appeared to have the frame in the bag only to for Carter to get the two snookers he required on the brown to double his lead 2-0.
These were worrying times for Higgins but like the great champion he is he didn't dwell on things as many others would have done but instead waited patiently for his chance to come.That it did in the next when Carter missed a cut red when in prime position to make it 3-0.Higgins pounced to make it 2-1 and also won the next to go to the interval the happier man 2-2.
Higgins was now in control of the match and began to move through the gears as he stretched his lead to 4-2.Carter to his credit didn't lie down he won the next to close to 4-3 but Higgins moved within one of the quarter finals winning a long and scrappy eighth before a trademark clearance in the next sealed his 6-3 win.
Higgins showed once again he will be a tough nut to crack this week and now awaits the winner between Shaun Murphy and Ricky Walden in the quarter finals
If John Higgins is an example of someone who never lets things get to him on a snooker table the same could not be said of his two fellow Scotsmen who met in todays other first round encounter.Stephen Maguire and Graeme Dott are both players who are capable of playing the game to the highest standard when at their best but can look as if the whole world is against them when things are not going well.These displays of emotion should not be mistaken for them giving up though,to the contrary they are signs that they are perhaps trying to hard.
Taking all this into account this perhaps was a game that was always destined to be close and so it proved as the momentum swung one way then another throughout.
Dott started the better and took an early 2-0 lead.It was then Maguires turn to start playing and he reeled off the next three to lead 3-2. As we always know though Dott is not someone you can shake off easily and leveled to make it 3-3 before retaking the lead 4-3.
The eighth frame seemed as though it my be the defining moment of the match when after both players missed relatively straight forward chances to win it Maguires temper boiled over and he conceded the frame with three reds remaining having missed a red to the middle. the score now 5-3 to Dott.
You would have been forgiven for thinking that this was a sign Maguire had given up the ghost but it strangely seemed to have the opposite effect.His mind now clear he won the next with two determined visits to close to 5-4 and that became 5-5 when he produced a stunning 131 break in the tenth.
So into a decider it went and it was perhaps inevitable with all that had gone before that it would be one of those tense nervy ones and so it proved.This one came down to a battle on the colours and was decided in the saddest possible way when Maguire trailing by 20 points on the green looked to have played a telling safety only for the white to clip the pink in and leave him 26 behind with 25 on table..Both players had battled so hard over the previous four hours neither deserved to have the match decided in this manner but when Dott doubled the green Maguire came forward and offered his hand in concession.Dott now awaits the winner of tomorrow afternoons clash between Judd Trump and Barry Hawkins.
We're half way through the first round now and those of you paying close attention to my predictions will see I've currently got a record of 2 from 4.Lets see if Day three will improve my average.