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Friday, 15 March 2013

PTC Grand Finals day 4


Day 4 at the PTC Grand Finals in Galway saw the completion of the second round and thankfully for all concerned, the end of the long six matches in a day format that has proved so troublesome this week.

First up this morning we had Ding Junhui facing the man he beat in the recent Scottish Open final Anthony Mcgill.If the schedule was to be delayed today,Ding was determined it wasn't going to be because of him as he raced into a 2-0 lead with breaks of 101 and 133. Mcgill managed to stop the rot by winning a scrappy third but Ding restored his two frame advantage winning the next to go 3-1 and one frame away from a place in the quarter finals.One thing that his run in the Scottish Open did prove though was that Mcgill is not someone who gives in until the final ball is potted and he dug in deep again here to win the next two to level at 3-3 and force the decider.The momentum may have been with the Scotsman at this stage but Ding was not to be denied as he rediscovered the form he had started the match with to seal the win with a fine break of 130.

The reward for him is a mouthwatering Quarter final against a man who is yet to drop a frame here this week, Mark Allen

We are told that the one thing you cant have in a best of seven match is a slow start,but it seems Neil Robertson is determined to prove that theory wrong this week.In his first match against Jamie Burnett he fell 2-0 behind before coming through 4-2 and again here today he lost the first against Barry Hawikins and was 51 -0 down in the next before waking up.but wake up he did as he came back to level at 1-1 before easily winning the next to go 2-1.The key frame of the match was the next.Robertson was in first but missed a red allowing Hawkins the chance to counter.He clawed his way back and even got the snooker he required before a careless safety on the blue undid all his hard work and allowed Robertson make it 3-1.There was only going to be one winner from here and Robertson clinched victory in the next to reach the quarter finals and move one step closer to wiping the memory of his final defeat here last year.

His opponent in the Quarter Finals will be Xiao Guodong after the Chinese got past Alfie Burden 4-2 to reach the last 8 for the second year in a row.This one started off scrappy ,but it was Xiao who got the better of the early exchanges to lead 2-0.Burden finally got a frame on the board in the next with a quickfire 88.Next came another tense frame where Xiao made the early running only to be pegged back by Burden.With the black over the corner pocket it was ultimately to be a pink ball frame and it was Xiao who got it to extend his lead to 3-1.Burden pulled one back to make it 3-2 but in another tight scrappy frame Xiao did enough to fall over the winning line

The hot topic among snooker players and fans alike in recent months has been the decision to revert to a flat draw for tournaments from the start of next season.There are of course many arguments for and against but as we have seen with the PTC's,the flat draw can really help some players, who struggle to qualify for ranking events under normal circumstances,to really mix it with the big boys.One such players is Ben Woollaston

Woollaston today faced Joe Perry in the second round and the key moment in this one was to come in the fourth frame.After a scrappy start Perry was beginning to look in control and on the verge of making it 3-1 until a poor positional shot on the blue meant he had a trickier then needed frame ball pink ,which he missed allowing Woollaston to sneak it on the black and level at 2-2.Woollaston also went on to take the next and although Perry compiled a fine 91 to put the match into a decider,it was Woollaston who seemed to be the calmer under pressure and he duly wrapped up the match 4-3.

After his victory over Mark Williams yesterday Woollaston talked about the £100,000 first prize here this week as been a life changing sum of money for him should he win it.He also said that if he doesn't he would prefer if another of the players it would also mean that much to wins it.in he quarter final he will play one of those other lower ranked players left in the tournament in the shape of Kurt Maflin

In a match that always looked on paper like been one for the purist Maflin edged by Rod Lawler by the odd frame in 7,winning 4-3.This one was nip and tuck the whole way with the players exchanging frames the whole way through.That said the flashes of quality that were on show all came from Maflin as he compiled breaks of 72 & 85 so the former World Amateur Champion was a worthy winner..

Saturday see's the four quarter finals taking place with two in the afternoon and another two in the evening taking a little pressure off the schedule.Undoubtedly the stand out tie is between Mark Allen & Ding Junhui but no doubt all eight men remaining will be fancying their chances of lifting the trophy come Sunday.

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