For all the intimacy of the two table set up,there really is nothing quite like the Crucible when it is down to the one table set up.That is what the four men who remain will face tomorrow when they start their semi finals.but first a look back at the quarter final action.
If we're honest for all the snooker we've seen over the last week or so there has been the feeling that the championship as a whole had been a bit flat.That is not something that can be said anymore after one of the truly great Crucible matches.as Judd Trump edged a thriller with Shaun Murphy 13-12.
This result seemed a long way away in the early stages as a badly out of form Trump struggled in the first session and Murphy took full advantage to lead 6-2..Trump knew coming into the second session he needed a good one but the sings weren't there early as Murphy extended his lead to 8-3.To his credit though ,Trump dug in and won the last five frames of the session to level at coming into this afternoons final session.
The scene was set for a grandstand finish then and for once we weren't to be disappointed.Trump got in first to go 9-8 before Murphy made it 9-9 with a 128 and he then made it 10-9 with a 70 clearance after Trump had earlier broke down on 59,Trump wasn't going away though and leveled again at the interval with a 77.
This was snooker of the highest quality from both these men and it was perhaps written in the stars from the off that we were going to have a decider.That is exactly what we got as both players exchanged frame for frame to take us to 12-12.In a frame that lasted 53 minutes it was Trump who got the upper hand in the tactical battle to seal a famous win.
For Murphy this was another quarter final defeat in a season near misses but he can be proud of the performance he put in here and the fact is it would have been enough to beat most.
Trump has had a poor second half of the season by his standards. but he showed here that he has the all round game to compete with the very best and he will need all that and more in his semi final where he will face our defending champion Ronnie O'Sullivan.
Ronnie booked his place in his tenth Crucible semi final with a comprehensive 13-4 win over Stuart Bingham.
There has been much written about the Ronnie over the years and many arguments about where he stands in a list of the greats of the game,but to put it simply,no other player has ever or will ever make the game look a ridiculously easy as he did in the first session here.In taking a 7-1 lead over Bingham he was simply awesome.and the match more or less finished as a contest there and then,
This looked like been over with a session to spare when Ronnie raced to 12-1 with three frames left,but Bingham,with a little help from Ronnie allowing his concentration to drift at least avoided that indignity winning all three to make it 12-4.This was only delaying the inevitable though and Ronnie wrapped up the win in the .first frame of the night.
All the talk afterwards was of his press conference where he seemed to contradict his earlier statements during the week and once again threatened retirement.That will at least give the papers something to write tomorrow,but really we have heard all this so often before it's hard to take it at face value.
In many ways its a pity that this will take the headlines as the Trump v O'Sullivan clash has the potential to be a classic.Trump spoke of having no fear of playing Ronnie.and of going on the attack against him.This is an admirable ambition to have,but the fact is such a tactic could just play into Ronnie's hands and I think the Rocket will reach his fifth Crucible final.What happens after that is anyones guess.
All the talk pre tournament was off the "quarter of death" which included the likes of Selby,Lisowski,Allen and Ding It is then something of a surprise that the man who came through this section of the draw is Barry Hawkins.
Playing here in his first Crucible quarter final he added the scalp of Ding to his list with a solid matchplay performance.
After many years of expectation there was a feeling that this could be Dings year and maybe that added pressure told on the Chinese as he never really got going in this match..The signs for what was to come were there early on as Hawkins won the first session 5-3 and held the same two frame advantage after the second the score now 9-7.
Ding knew he needed a good start this morning but big bounce when in,cost him the first and he never looked comfortable after that the score now.10-7.That became 11-7 in the next and Hawkins could see the finish line getting ever closer.Hawkins lead 50-0 in the next but Ding forced his way back into it and seemed set to take it before amazingly missing a straight forward brown.They say the balls don't forgive you in this game and was certainly the case for Ding here as Hawkins outrageously fluked the frame ball pink to go 12-7.This was the final nail in Ding coffin and.Hawkins wrapped up the win in the next to win 13-7.
Ding will no doubt look at the fact he didn't get the run of the ball here but in truth he simply didn't play well enough against an opponent on the crest of a wave.You have to wonder now if he will ever now win the world title that had once seemed his destiny when he burst on the scene.
Hawkins though can look forward to a clash with another surprise semi finalist in Ricky Walden who had never won a match at the Crucible prior to this years event.He was th reach this stage with a fine 13-6 victory over Michael White.
This one it has to be said was pretty one sided from the start as White playing at this stage of an event for the first time struggled to cope and Walden took control to lead 6-2 going into today.That became 9-3 and it looked as though an evening session might not be required,but White to his credit rallied to 9-6 before Walden won a crucial final frame of the session to go 10-6 into tonight.Here rounded off his win by taking the three frames he needed to win 13-6.
So that leaves us with the unlikeliest of semi final pairings,but make no mistake both these men are here on merit and could very well serve up a real nail biter.This could really go either way but I just have a feeling that Walden might edge it.Really though that is nothing more then a feeling.
Both matches play their opening eight frames tomorrow before we really get into the meat of these contests on Friday and Saturday. Lets fasten our seatbelts and enjoy the ride.