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Monday, 6 May 2013

World Championship 2013 The Final day two

The 2013 Betfair World Champion is Ronnie O'Sullivan after he completed an 18-12 victory over Barry Hawkins. in what was probably the best final we have seen in many years.

Starting with Ronnie leading 10-7 any thoughts that he had weathered the Hawkins storm were quickly put to rest as Barry won the first of the session .Ronnie as he had done throughout day one,responded by winning the next to go 11-8 and with one of the best clearances we have seen all tournament he clinched the next after Hawkins had missed a frame ball red.

You would have forgiven Hawkins at that stage if his head at dropped,but he found his form again in the next to close to 12-9 at the interval.This was already a better final then what had been expected and Ronnie upped his game even more,winning the next with a majestic 133.The next two frames were shared before Ronnie ensured that he would keep his record of wining every session ,knocking in his 6th century of the match to go within three of the title at 15-10.

One session remaining then and Hawkins was now at the point of no return,knowing he needed perfect snooker to have a chance.To his credit that was how he started,rolling in a 127 in the first and a 66 in the second to reduce the deficit to 15-12.He was also in first in the next but a missed red to the corner allowed Ronnie the chance he had been waiting for and he moved to 16-12 with a break of 77.That became 17-12 in the next courtesy of an 88 and the end came in the first after the interval when he rolled in an 86 to claim the 18-12 win.

So that was it then. Ronnie claimed his fifth World crown and became the first man since Hendry in 1996 to successfully defend the title. In doing so he has proven himself yet again to be not just the best player in the world now, but agruably the greatest of all time.In this championship he showed not just the superb break building that we sometimes take for granted from him,but also a level of match play snooker that was as good as anything we have ever seen.I know we are sick of hearing it but to be doing this after a year out was truly phenomenal All this provided proof,if proof were needed that when he put it together,he is practically unbeatable.

I also must pay tribute to Barry Hawkins who produced one of the performances of his career on the games biggest stage, I will admit to been one of those who thought he would just be blown away here but he really put it up to Ronnie and who knows ,another opponent on another day and he could have been holding the trophy.Hopefully he can carry this new confidence forward into the new season and claim the titles his talent deserves,

The night though belonged to Ronnie.Who knows how many more times we'll see him play in the future,he probably doesn't know himself,but no matter how many time it is we should savour them, because we will never see his like again.All Hail King Ronnie.

Sunday, 5 May 2013

World Championship Final 2013 Day One

The final of 2013 betfair World Championship and based on the evidence of the last two weeks most people were expecting simply the coronation of Ronnie as World Champion,but it might not be the cakewalk they were expecting after a fascinating first day of final action.

Coming in this afternoon the question was how would Hawkins settle on what was no doubt the biggest day of his career.and early on,the signs were not good as a series of poor shots gifted Ronnie the opening which he took to lead 2-0.Hawkins to his credit though suddenly found his form and leveled at 2-2 at mid session interval.

The whole tournament people have asked how would Ronnie respond if he fell behind and we finally got the answer to that this afternoon as Hawkins took the next to lead 3-2 and Ronnie responded winning the next three with the aid of two centuries to lead 5-3 at the end of the afternoon.

Into the night then and real signs that Ronnie was feeling it a bit more then we expected and Hawkins perhaps sensing this started to play his best snooker. The first four frames were shared to go to the interval at 7-5 to Ronnie ,but Hawkins kept his momentum going and made it 7-6 before then getting  133 to level again at 7-7.

Tho only time we have seen Ronnie under this much pressure before in this tournament was when Ali Carter drew level with him at 7-7 in their second round match,On that occasion Ronnie dug in to win the next two and he did exactly the same here,knocking in back to back centuries once again to lead 9-7.

The final frame of the session now took on added importance and it seemed both players knew it as the tension mounted. A series of masterful safety shots from Ronnie seemed to give him the upper hand until Hawkins fluked the green.Every shot now was vitally important and when Ronnie played a loose shot on the blue Hawkins potted it and the pink,but failed to get on the black.He then played a poor safety and Ronnie held his nerve to pot the black and go 10-7 ahead overnight.

So not the procession people were expecting and Hawkins can be very happy with his days work despite  trailing going into tomorrow. He will feel if he gets off to a good start in the afternoon he still has every chance here.Ronnie can also be content that,despite having made four centuries,he holds a lead without been at his best. What it does mean is we are set fair for a great days action tomorrow to round off this championship.

Saturday, 4 May 2013

World Championship 2013 Semi Final round up.

The final of the 2013 Betfair World Snooker Championship will see defending champion Ronnie O'Sullivan face Barry Hawkins  after two very different semi finals finished at The Crucible today.

It's been one of the anomalies of the sport over the years that many of the clashes we would have loved to have seen in the final actually took place in the semi's.I'm thinking here of Davis v Hendry in 1994 and the three occasions where Ronnie met Hendry at the semi final stage.

We can now add to that list the names of Ronnie & Judd,as the most gifted players of their respective generations met here in the most eagerly anticipated match the Crucible has seen in many years.

Judd had reached this stage after coming through a thriller with Murphy 13-12 in a match that showed his growing maturity and he spoke of taking the game to Ronnie and having no fear.

In their first session both showed what they were capable of as firstly Ronnie opened a 4-1 and then Judd countered to finish the session at 4-4. The score moved to 6-6 at start of second session but Ronnie,perhaps smelling a bit of blood upped a gear after the interval to move 9-6 ahead  This was now threatening to get away from Judd,but he managed to win the last of the session to close to 9-7.

In a match over this length it is often the third session that is the decisive one and so it proved here in a night of high drama and a little controversy.Ronnie,still not at his heavy scoring best,but certainly with his game head on opened up a 13-8 lead before Trump won the next make it 13-9.The night took a strange turn in the next when firstly it appeared someone in the crowd was deliberately trying to put Judd off and then Michealla Tabb warned Ronnie for making a rude gesture with his cue.This seemed to rattle Ronnie for a few shots and give Trump the upper hand as he took the frame to close to 13-10.

This put major emphasis on the final frame of the night and is was perhaps here more then anywhere else we saw the benefits of the work Dr Steve Peters has done with Ronnie as he put all that had gone before behind him to take it in one visit and go 14-10 overnight.

This left Trump with a mountain to climb this afternoon and it proved to be beyond him as Ronnie closed out the match to win 17-11.

So that was it then from a match that although never quite living up to it's billing qualitywise was highly entertaining none the less.Trump will look at the fact that he scored in nearly every frame but just could never get the cue ball on a string the way he needed to really make the big breaks and push Ronnie.He will learn from this though and his all round play in this tournament suggest he is maturing as a player.He will certainly be back

For Ronnie this will be a highly satisfying win as ,although he didn't make a century,he by and large controlled the match in every department and punished his young opponent for every mistake.He will strongly fancy his chances of adding a fifth world title to his cv here on Monday night.

The man hoping to stop him winning that fifth title will be Barry Hawkins after he came through an extraordinary match with Ricky Walden.With neither player having experienced the one table set up at the Crucible before there was always a danger that they both could get caught in the headlights in this one and so it proved to be,as both struggled to find their best form.

In a first session where both were badly out of form it was Walden who got off to the better start and took a 6-2 lead. Hawkins was nothing like he was in beating Selby or Ding so it was to his great credit that he managed to come out of the second session only 9-7 behind.

Onto the third session and it was Walden who again made the better start and stretched his lead to  12-8 at the mid session interval.There were four frames left in the session now and Hawkins would have felt he needed to win three of them to stay in touch.As it happened he did better then that as he won all four to level the match at 12-12.

This set up a grandstand final session that basically boiled down to a best of nine for a place in the final.The first frame seemed to be going the way of Hawkins again but Walden fought back to force a respotted black to go ahead for first time in the match at 13-12.This was the 5th frame in a row for Hawkins and he would incredibly make it 8 in a row as he moved to the brink of the final at 16-12.

Walden must have been wondering how on earth his world had caved in so quickly here,but he showed he still had a bit of fight still in him to make it 16-13 and then 16-14.For all the poor quality snooker then,this was beginning to build up into a fascinating finish.In the next Walden was again in first but unluckily knocked in a red when trying to split the pack and Hawkins did enough to get over the line 17-14.

This is a match you feel will play on the mind of Ricky Walden for a long time as he will be left to rue that slump that saw him lose a commanding four frame lead.half way through third session.Hopefully though in time he can put this behind him and start to focus on making runs like he had here a regular occurrence

For Hawkins this will have been the realisation of a dream,that it is unlikely even he saw coming true when  the draw.came out.The fact is though he has beaten Selby and Ding here and managed to come through a semi final where he had only managed a high break of 47 in the first two sessions,so he deserves his place in the title decider.

He will also have the  advantage of going into the final as a big underdog which may allow him play more his natural game then he was able to do against such an evenly matched opponent in the semi final

That said though I really don't see him having enough in the locker to take 18 frames off O'Sullivan and   I think we will be hailing King Ronnie the 5th come early Monday evening.

Wednesday, 1 May 2013

World Championship Quarter Final round up

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 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.