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Saturday, 30 March 2013

China Open Semi final round up & Final preview

As if the fact that we are three weeks away from the Crucible wasn't exciting enough,we have a final line up  that will only serve to whet our appetite further as our thoughts drift towards that 17 day marathon,as Mark Selby faces Neil Robertson for the China Open title.

Selby was the first man through to the final producing a dominant display to win his semi final with Shaun Murphy.The writing was on the wall for Murphy from early on here as Selby raced to a 3-0 lead.Murphy did manage to get one back before the interval but Selby,who seems to just have a way of controlling the table won the next two to make it 5-1. Murphy who to his credit never gives in,did manage to get one back,but there was to be no miracle fightback here and Selby sealed the comfortable 6-2 win.

This in many ways was a typical Selby win.Never at any stage did he seem to be playing at his peak but his all round table management made life very awkward for Murphy,who just never seemed to get going.This is something that surely happens too often in Selby matches to be a coincidence.He seems to have found a way,deliberate or not of just controlling a match and choking the life out of his opponent.If this is a tactic,all credit to him as it has brought him much success and the world no.1 spot.There is after all no right or wrong way to play the game.

For Murphy this tournament pretty much summed up his season,Hr has been very consistent at reaching the business end of tournaments,but has never really threatened to win one.

In many ways,in the consistency stakes at least,the same can be said of Neil Robertson,though he has only lost his previous two ranking final this season in the deciding frame.

He reached his third ranking final of the season here courtesy of a fine 6-5 victory over Stephen Maguire.

This was a proper best of 11 tussle that swung both ways before the Aussie prevailed.The scene for what was to come was set early in this one as Maguire took the opening frame before Robertson stormed back to lead 2-1.He looked set to make that 3-1 but a fine counter attack from Maguire leveled it at 2-2 at the interval.

Maguire seemed to be stamping his control on the game to lead 4-2 but in two almost identical frames where Maguire made the early running it was Robertson who fought back to level things up again at 4-4. Maguire edged to within one of victory taking the next but his old Achilles heal of playing the odd rash shot out of frustration came back to haunt him in the tenth and Robertson knocked in a break of 110 to force the decider.

The decider itself was a cagey affair but it was Robertson who took full advantage of the first clear chance to win it with a 81.

This was ironically Maguires best performance of the week and he can head to the Crucible next month with a fair degree of confidence from his recent successes.

For Robertson who at one stage had never lost a tv final,it is a chance to right the wrong ,as he will see it,of not having a ranking title on the cv for this season.That title wont be easily won though against an opponent who is,at the very least his equal,in the "tough as granite"stakes.Selby also has the advantage of a couple of high profile recent wins over the Aussie and for that reason will probably start a slight favourite.That said though I do just have a feeling that the Robertson's hunger for a title this season will see him through.Don't be surprised if it's another tight finish though.

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