Ricky Walden yesterday produced his best snooker just when he needed it most to see off the challenge of Mark Allen yesterday and claim the £125,000 International Championship title.
In a match that took its time to get going it was Walden who took the the early initiative to lead 3-1,but Allen fought back taking four of the next five to lead 5-4 at the end of the first session.
In truth,although close the first session had not been of the highest quality but that changed in the evening session.Here once again it was Walden who started the the better taking the first three to go 7-5 ahead.As earlier though Allen fought back to level at 7-7 and a grandstand finish to rival those of the last two years here looked on the cards.However Walden was having none of it as he suddenly stepped up a gear.reeling of a string of big breaks to take the match 10-7.
This was the third ranking title of Waldens career and you couldn't but be impressed with the way he roared to victory in that last session.With the confidence gained here he will a handful for anyone he plays from here on out.
Finally though I must comment on the tournament as a whole.Obviously it was dealt a major blow when Ding failed to qualify,but even allowing for this the crowds were very disappointing.I do understand that in China the organizers of these events aren't as worried about this as we would be in this part of the world and that once the tv audiences are strong they are happy,but if this is really to become a tournament that is thought of alongside the games "Big Three"an atmosphere is an essential part of the mix.
Anyway after a couple of empty weeks the action comes thick and fast with the Champion of Champions starting today on ITV4.This event was a revelation last yr in its first outing with Ronnie O'Sullivan coming out on top.
This year the format is the same with a four groups of four playing out semi finals and final each day with the winners reaching the main semi finals at the weekend..
The one problem facing the organizers this year was a lack different of champions through the year so the numbers have been fleshed out by including Steve Davis as World senior Champion & Dominic Dale as Shootout winner as well as the highest ranked players who had not qualified by right.These include Ali Carter,who is making a welcome return to our screens following his brave battle with cancer during the summer.I join everyone else in the snooker world by wishing all the best here.
The format for the week is as follows
Monday Group Four
Ding Junhui v Dominic Dale
Barry Hawkins v John Higgins
Tuesday Group Two
Mark Selby v Steve Davis
Judd Trump v Stephem Maguire
Wednesday Group One
Ronnie O'Sullivan v Stuart Bingham
Shaun Murphy v Marco Fu
Friday Group Three
Neil Robertson v Ali Carter
Mark Allen v Rick Walden