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Thursday, 30 October 2014

International Championship Quarter final round up.

Quarter finals day at The International Championship and today we got an answer to the,"who can stop Ronnie"? question I started each of my blogs with this week. It turned out to someone whose game he knew very well.

Coming out to play today Mark Williams knew that recent history was not on his side.12 years had past since he last was victorious against The Rocket and he would,no doubt, have gotten that old familiar feeling  today when Ronnie took an early 3-0 lead.This however was not the imperious O'Sullivan we had seen earlier in the week and Williams took full advantage to claw his way back.

In an extraordinary run of five frames which saw Ronnie produce a high break of just 27 Williams turned things right around to go within one of victory at 5-3.It was now all or nothing for Ronnie and to his credit he dug deep to produce his best snooker of the match to win the next two frames and force the decider.

Into that frame then and Williams was first in with a proper scoring chance,but on 50 fell out of position.From the resulting safety Ronnie doubled a red to get in but landed to close the the black and when he failed to pot it Williams produced a double of his own to claim a victory which has been a long time in the coming.

He will next face Mark Allen after the Ulsterman produced a fine comeback of his own to overturn a 3-1 deficit against Michael White to go through 6-3.Allen has been in fine form all season and will be looking here to reach his fourth final in recent monthes.

A player still hoping to reach his first final is Robert Milkins and he went one step closer to achieving that dream with a hard fought win over Marco Fu.This was a match that seemed to have decider written all over it from the beginning as they shared the first four frames to the interval 2-2.That became 3-3 and then 4-4 before Milkins moved to the brink at 5-4.Marco was not done for yet though and he leveled at 5-5 to force the decider,however Milkins would not be denied and  a 70 break saw him through 6-5.

In tomorrows semi final,he will face Ricky Walden who brought the run of Jamie Burnett to an end with a straight forward 6-1 win.

Things now change to two session best of 17 matches with a full match played each day.


Wednesday, 29 October 2014

international Championship Last 16.

Last 16 day in Chengdu and the question remains the same, can anyone stop Ronnie O 'Sullivan claiming another big title?

One thing is for sure,if someone is to stop Ronnie,they are going to have to play very well.as what we have here this week is a very focused O'Sullivan,who is feeling more confident with every  match.Todays performance did't have the centuries that highlighted his victory over McGill yesterday,but the scoreline was the same. with "The Rocket" running out a comfortable 6-1 winner over Li Hang.

In the quarter final Ronnie will face a familiar foe in the shape of Mark Williams,who kept up his recent  good form winning the last three frames from 4-3 down to eventually see off Sam Baird 6-4.

The standout match on paper today was the clash between Stuart Bingham & Mark Allen. This,of course was a rematch of the recent Shanghai master final that Bingham won,but it was Allen who got the better start today,taking him to a 3-1 lead. Bingham though started to find some form and won the next three to lead 4-3.however Allen was not to be denied,running off a three in a row of his own,to seal a 6-4 win.

His opponent in the Quarters will be Michael White after the young Welshman continued his progress here with a 6-2 defeat of Ian Burns

In the bottom half of the draw,Joe Swail couldn't repeat his giant killing exploits from yesterday as he went down 6-4 to Ricky Walden.

Walden will next face Jamie Burnett who provided the one shock of the day,beating former world champion Peter Ebdon 6-2.

Marco Fu also kept on track for another final appearance in Chengdu after he finally saw off the dogged resistance of Rod Lawler to prevail 6-4 and set up a last 8 encounter with Rob Milkins who also beat Xiao Guodong 6-4.

So there we have  and after all the shocks of recent days we stil have some tasty matches to look forward to tomorrow.Lets hope a few more people show up at the venue to see them!

Last 8 draw
Michael White v Mark Allen
Mark Williams v Ronnie O'Sullivan
Ricky Walden v Jamie Burnett
Marco Fu v Robert Milkins

Tuesday, 28 October 2014

International Championship Story so far.

Three days into the 2014 International Championship in Chengdu and with the big names continuing to drop like flies the question is,as we enter the last 16,can anyone stop Ronnie O'Sullivan from claiming the title here come Sunday.

Lets start though with the shocks  and they don't come much bigger than the 6-5 victory of Joe Swail over Neil Robertson. All this seemed a million miles away when Robertson went into an early 3-0 lead before Swail closed to 3-2..Robertson again asserted to move within one of victory at 5-3,but showing the fighting qualities that have marked his whole career Swail dug in to make it 5-5 before winning the decider for a famous win.

He will next play Ricky Walden who also had to dig deep to edge past Zhao Yeulong,winning the last two frames to record a 6-5 win.

That result came after Robert Milkins turned the recent form book on its head earlier,beating Shaun Murphy 6-1 to set up a last 16 clash with Xiao Goudong,who scrapped past Noppon Saengkham 6-5,but the shocks did not finish there, as Jamie Burnett fought back to win the last two frames to beat 2012 champ Judd Trump 6-5.

Trump had seemed to weather the storm,despite not playing his best,,when he turned a 4-2 deficit into a 5-4 lead,but when he let a chance to close the match slip in the next it allowed Burnett to make a gritty clearance to level it, before sealing his win in the decider.He will now face Peter Ebdon who earlier had impressively beat Joe Perry 6-1

 As all this carnage was happening around him O'Sullivan looks to be in ominously good form  as he put a sluggish start against Ben Woollaston in the first round behind him,to cruise to a 6-1 victory over Anthony McGill in round two. He will next play Li Hang who started the shock results rolling here on Sunday with a 6-1 win over John Higgins and followed it today with another 6-1 win this time over Zhao Xintong

In other results Michael White continued his good start to the season beating Mitchell Mann 6-4 & will next meet Ian Burns who defeated Craig Steadman 6-3.

Mark Williams showed signs of returning to something near his best with a 6-2 defeat of Barry Hawkins and will next face Sam Baird who beat Mark Davis 6-5.

Marco Fu continued his quest to go one better here than last year,beating David Gilbert 6-5 and will next play Rod Lawler who ended the hopes of Fergal O'Brien with a comprehensive 6-1 win.and the remaining last 16 clash will see a rematch of last monthes  Shanghai Masters final with Stuart Bingham facing Mark Allen after Bingham beat Day 6-3 & Allen edged Gould 6-4 in a high quality clash.

Last 16 Draw
Michael White v Ian Burns
Stuart Bingham v Mark Allen
Mark Williams v Sam Baird
Li Hang v Ronnie O'Sullivan
Joe Swail v Ricky Walden
Peter Ebdon v Jamie Burnett
Robetr Milkins v Xiao Guodong
Marco Fu v Rod lawler

Friday, 24 October 2014

International Championship preview.

Well after what  has been a stuttering start to the 2014/15 season,consisting of three full ranking events and a few PTC's,things really begin to pick up pace over the next month with "China's Major" the International Championship starting things off next week in Chengdu.

This tournament of course is a relatively new one on the circuit,but from the outset with its format and prize money it is obviously hoped that in time it will become equivalent to the UK Championship in terms of  stature in the game.

For this this to happen some would argue,as has been the case in its first two years,it needs to continue to be won by the sports biggest names,but two of our brightest stars wont be among those who line up next week having fallen victim to the qualifying round in Barnsley.

The first of these is defending champion Ding Junhui,who,just as was the case with the Wuxi Classic,failed to negotiate the round of 128. I do get the case for the flat draw system,but surely situations like we have here,where practically unknown local wildcards will be playing at the venue next week & China's number one will  not cannot be good for the game. There must be a way around this that satisfies everyone.

The other noticeable absentee is our World Champion Mark Selby who uncharacteristically let a 4-0 lead slip against young Oliver Lines,going down in the end 6-4.This at the time was a major shock,but since then Lines,who is on tour courtesy of his victory in the European Under 21 Championship,has continued to make waves in his first season,following this up with a fine run in the Bulgarian Open and just this morning losing out to Stuart Bingham in the final APTC 2.It would appear,far from that win against Selby been a flash in the pan,that this is definitely a young man we will be hearing plenty more of in the coming yrs.

In the absence of Ding the top quarter looks on all recent form to be a shoot out between Stuart Bingham & Mark Allen.As iIve said already above Bingham this morning added APTC2 to the Shanghai Masters title he won last month, where incidentally in the final he beat Allen.These two are on course for a last 16 meeting here and it would surprise me if the winner of that clash didn't reach the semi final with perhaps only Michael White potentially throwing a spanner in the works.

Into the second quarter & with Ding & Selbys absence it was no doubt a relief to the organisers  that Ronnie O'Sullivan managed to negotiate the first round and will cue up here on Sunday.He faces a potentially tricky opener against Ben Woollaston,but should he  get through there "The Rocket" might start to fancy the job  in a quarter of the draw that,if near his best,shouldn't pose many problems,albeit he may have to face to granite Scottish pair of McManus & Higgins.

Into the third quarter and it may well be a rematch of the 2012 final here with Robertson v Trump that decides it. Robertson,despite a victory in the Wuxi Classic,hasn't produced the consistent form that was his trademark last season just yet,but the season is still young and it will surely come. Trump also has an early season ranking title to his name from his victory in Australia, has rarely since reached the level he did in collecting this trophy two yrs ago.All that said though however this slightly longer format suits both these men and they should enjoy good runs here.

The fourth quarter in the absence of Selby is again an open one,but surely its wide open for Shaun Murphy,who has been brimming with confidence lately to make a real impact in this tournament with the main dangers to him perhaps been,Stephen Maguire,Marco Fu and that young man Oliver Lines who will be looking for a few more major scalps.

The action gets underway on Sunday with Eurosport providing extensive coverage all week.