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Sunday, 17 March 2013

PTC Grand Final


After a season of events all over the world and a week of battling it out in Galway.The final brought together two of the sports real heavyweights to slug it out over the best of seven frames as Neil Robertson faced Ding Junhui for the title of PTC Grand Final champion 2013
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It is a sign of just how strange a season this has been to think that this was the tenth full ranking event and neither of these great champions had managed to claim one up to now
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Into the first frame then and in what was to become the pattern in the early frames Ding got in first but only managed 41 before running out of position.Robertson capitalised with an 88 to take a 1-0 lead and quickly made it 2-0 with the aid of a 58 break in the next.

Any memories Robertson had of his 4-0 final defeat here last year to Stephen Lee were quickly vanishing as he stretched that lead to 3-0 in a frame that was a carbon copy of frame one with Ding again breaking down when in first,this time on 51 and Robertson countering to win it with 60.These were worrying time for Ding who in truth hadn't really done much wrong.

Frame four looked like it may be a case of history repeating itself as once again Ding made the running with a 52 only to break down,but on this occasion Robertson failed to capitalise and Ding finished off with a 70 to put his first frame on the board.

This seemed to relax Ding a little and he rattled in a wonderfully crafted 130,his 8th century of the week. to close within one,the score now 3-2.

Things were now getting serious as we entered the sixth frame.Ding again made the running with 38 before running out of position and Robertson countered with 44.This one though boiled down to a battle on the colours and after an extraordinary run of shots Ding produced a fabulous escape,snookering Robertson on the yellow in the process.Robertson managed to hit the yellow,but left it  on and Ding held his nerve to pot a difficult brown along the baulk cushion finishing perfectly on the blue to force us into a decider.

They say when it comes to this,that all you are looking for is a chance and that chance fell to Ding.and as has done so often this week,he made a match winning clearance of 98 to become PTC Grand final champion 2013.Just how much this meant to Ding was obvious as he showed far more emotion then we are used to seeing from him,thumping his chest in delight.

Speaking afterwards Robertson,who at one stage had never lost a tv final but has now lost his last four,was in reflective mood remarking that in none of those finals had he played badly it was just that his opponent on each occasion had played very well.Indeed this is true and never more so then here as Ding finished with a pot success rate of 99%.

It was also noticeable this week that Neil was not getting as bogged down in his matches as he has been of late and whether this was a conscious move by him or not,I feel his game will only benefit as a result.

For Ding this win will be satisfactory on many levels.Not only has he lifted his first major trophy in over a year,but he also showed great reserves of fortitude to fight his way back into it from 3-0 down.I'm not sure the Ding of a few seasons back would have shown such resilience.If this is something he has now added permanently to his arsenal he will become an even more formidable competitor in the coming seasons.

So a great tournament finishes with a great final and a worthy final. There may have been problems with the scheduling in the first four days and this will definitely need to be looked at for the future,but that shouldn't take away from what was another great week in the city of Galway.Crowds may have varied during the week but with so much else going on in Ireland around St Patricks weekend we still had healthy crowds for the concluding stages.Lets hope snooker returns here again next year.

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