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Sunday, 23 April 2017

World Championship Day Nine Round up

Day nine at the championship and with no match scheduled to finish today,a quiter day than yesterday was always on the cards.

I say no match scheduled to finish today,but that was not quite how it worked out as Stephen Maguire continued his smooth progress through the championship with a 13-3 victory over Rory McLeod.

There was always the danger,that, after his heroics against Trump, this one may have a feeling of"after the Lord Mayors show" for McLeod and so it turned out as he never settled against an opponent brimming with confidence.

Maguire has now reached the quarter finals at the Crucible,losing only five frames so far at the venue & will enjoy his Monday off as Barry Hawkins & Graeme Dott battle it out to face him in the last eight.

For a brief period tonight Hawkins may have also held out hopes of a Monday off when he held a 9-3 lead,but Dott wasn't done for yet and he roared back to 9-6.Hawkins though will certainly be sleeping a little easier after taking the last of the session to lead by four again over night at 10-6

Also holding a 10-6 overnight lead is our defending champion Mark Selby,who shared another efficient if not brilliant session today against Xiao Guodong and is well placed for another last 8 appearance.

The one potential bit of drama tomorrow might well come in the Neil Robertson  v Marco Fu match as these two go into their final session locked together at 8-8. Of the two Fu will certainly be the happier as it was he who trailed 4-1 in the first session before taking the last three of the session to level it at 4-4.Then followed a night where neither could pull away,leaving things nicely poised going into tomorrow.

Saturday, 22 April 2017

World Championship Day Eight Round up.

There was a feeling during the week on social media that despite some bright moments that this championship hadn't really caught fire yet,but if today is anything to go by things are only going to get better.

So often in these multi session matches its impossible to keep your form going throughout so the secret is to make hay when things are going your way.When Mark Allen looks back on his defeat here to John Higgins,he may well reflect on that first session yesterday,where playing at his absolute best he somehow only came out of  it with a 5-3 lead.

Higgins was always likely to make him pay for that and got off to the perfect start this morning taking the opening four to move ahead 7-5.Allen bounced back after the interval with a 116 in the next to close within one at 7-6 & looked well placed to level when on a run of 70 in the next,but Higgins dished with 72 to extend his lead to 8-6.From here the last two were shared  to leave it 9-7 going into the final session.

Into the night then and Allen,needing a fast start, was first in again taking the opener to get within one at 9-8,but history was to repeat itself in the next as first in again Allen,thanks to a kick,broke down on 58 & Higgins dished once more to go 10-8

A 120 in the next from Higgins extended that lead to 11-8 & although Allen pulled another back,this one was all but over with Higgins going through 13-9 

So with Higgins quest for a fifth world title gathering momentum in the bottom half of the draw the possibility of a dream final between him & his fellow legend Ronnie O'Sullivan becomes a real possibility as Ronnie also booked his place in the last 8 today by quickly polishing off his match with Shaun Murphy this morning.

Just how big that last frame yesterday afternoon was in the context of the end result we'll never know,but starting today leading 10-6 Ronnie was never likely to let this slip and looking fully focused again, he quickly rounded  off a comfortable 13-7 win.

He'll next face Ding Junhui who came through a real high quality encounter with his fellow Chinese Liang Wenbo that went all the way to the 25th and final frame.

This was a real scoring feast as these two punched and counter punched over the three sessions & perhaps the difference came down to the greater experience as Ding rallied late to see off Liang 13-12

In the matches that started today Stephen Maguire  & Mark Selby both hold 6-2 overnight leads against Rory McLeod & Xiao Guodong respectively & seem in control,but we know too much at this stage to take anything for granted,don't we ?

Friday, 21 April 2017

World Championship day Seven Round up

Day seven at the championship and with the potential banana skin of the first round safely negotiated,the players remaining in the championship looked to step things up,with the result we had some really top quality snooker to enjoy.

A situation that often seems to arise in these longer frame matches is a player establishing an early lead & no matter what their opponent can throw at them they seem to be able to maintain the lead throughout.

That was certainly the case in the match between Kyren Wilson & 2015 champ Stuart Bingham where having managed to claw his way back from 5-0 to 5-3,Bingham,could never manage to,get the two frames in a row he needed to draw level.

That was especially the case in the morning session as frame for frame were traded up to 8-7,before what was possibly the matches defining moment.Needing a snooker,Wilson laid a fiendish snooker on the last red and from the resulting foul,took full advantage of the resulting free ball to to clear and take a 9-7 lead into the night.

Into the night and despite a run of 137 & a maximum attempt that ended on 80 Bingham could not get back into it and it was Wilson who moved into the quarter finals with a 13-10.

Elsewhere Ronnie O'Sullivan,resuming with a 6-2 lead would have had slight hopes of finishing with a session to spare today whereas Shaun would have been eyeing a winning session at least get a foothold in the match heading to the mornings final session.

Today it was Murphy who started the better taking the opener,but Ronnie quickly found his groove again to extend his lead to 9-3 at the mid session interval.

Ronnie now needed the four remaining frames to finish with a session to spare,but any hopes he had of doing this quickly disappeared as Murphy resumed all guns blazing & suddenly with a series of big breaks the game was very much back on,the score now 9-6.

One frame remained then and what a frame it turned out to be as both players missed a series of chances before a fluked yellow looked to be giving it to Murphy.There was to be one more twist though as he missed the subsequent green and Ronnie cleared to lead 10-6.They finish in the morning

The all Chinese clash between Ding Junhui & Liang Wenbo also lived up to its promise and after two highly entertaining sessions its Ding who holds the slight advantage at 9-7,but there could be plenty of snooker left in this one.

Finally Mark Allen must be wondering,after a session where he had three centuries & an 80 odd,just how he only has a two frame lead over John Higgins,but that the way it and its all very much to play for when they resume in the morning,the Ulsterman leading 5-3.

Thursday, 20 April 2017

World Championship Day Six Round Up

Day six & the quietest day of the championship so far with no morning session & the first of the round two matches getting underway.

Before we get into them though, we had final throws of round one to deal with,as Neil Robertson & Barry Hawkins looked finish off the job  against Saengkham & Ford respectively.

Starting the day with an 8-1 lead Robertson was never likely to be in trouble here despite the Thai putting a bit more shine on the scoreboard & the 2010 champion set up a last 16 clash with Marco Fu winning in the end 10-4

Hawkins also enjoyed a healthy 7-2 overnight lead against \Tom Ford and like Robertson, he didn't need to break sweat tonight running out in the end a 10-3 winner.

In the round two matches that got underway today Kyren Wilson holds a 5-3 overnight lead  against Bingham,but its the 2015 champion who'll probably be slightly the happier as things stand having trailed here at one stage 5-0.In honesty the standard wasn't the best at times and both players will be looking to improve when they resume in the morning.

Standard of play certainly wasn't an issue in the other last 16 match that commenced today and its a highly focused & motivated looking Ronnie O'Sullivan who holds a deserved 6-2 lead over Shaun Murphy.

This really was Ronnie at his fluent best and although Murphy produced a nice break of his own to level at 1-1, the session was dominated by O'Sullivan, who if he can produce the same level of performance tomorrow,will slightly fancy his chances of finishing this with a session to spare. Murphy may have other ideas though!!

Heres what we can look forward to tomorrow
Kyren Wilson v Stuart Bingham 10am
Liang Wenbo v Ding Junhui 10am

Ronnie O'Sullivan v Shaun Murphy 2.30pm
John Higgins v Mark Allen 2.30pm

Kyren Wilson v Stuart Bingham 7pm
Liang Wenbo v Ding Junhui 7pm

Wednesday, 19 April 2017

World Championship Day Five Round up

Day five at the world championship & there is only one place to start & that is with what is,quite simply, one of the biggest shocks we've seen in the 40 years at the Crucible.

After the big turnaround yesterday afternoon where McLeod,helped perhaps by a little Trump showboating,turned a 4-0 deficit into a 5-4 overnight lead.the question coming out this morning was could Trump reassert his grip on the game or could McLeod build on the momentum he had from his fine finish yesterday afternoon?The answer to this was probably neither as a real slog of a session took hold.

This was not pretty snooker to watch as frames after frame got scrappy,but at the same time you could not take your eyes off it as each play struggled to find any fluency.and each small break was costing a pint of blood. Such were the length of the frames that it soon became apparent that we would not be finishing before the afternoon session began and would need to return for an unscheduled third session at the end of the days play,

At this stage though vitally for McLeod,with the knowledge that they were been called ashore,he managed to steal himself for one big effort and a break of 66 saw him move within one of victory at 9-7.

Out they came tonight then and although Trump managed to pull one back McLeod again steadied himself in the next,with a series of big pots, to get over the line 10-8 for a thoroughly deserved victory & a Last 16 clash with Stephen Maguire.

For Trump this was another failure on the sports biggest stage & that final in 2011 remains the closest he has come to claiming the sports biggest prize.Who is to say if he will ever get that close again.

In other matches completed today Graeme Dott who is  in the "rolling back the years"stage of his career did just that to beat Ali Carter 10-7.

This one was another example of just how important every mini session is,even in these long matches as Carter never really fully recovered from a slow start and despite great runs of 111,104 & 88 today,he could never land a blow on the 2006 champ who advances to another last 16 at this championship.

In the other match to finish today Xiao Guodong produced a stunning display of long potting to ease past Ryan Day 10-4 and book a second round clash with Mark Selby.

Elsewhere two of the games big guns look all but through to the next round,holding as they do big overnight leads with Neil Robertson leading Noppon Saengkham 8-1 & Barry Hawkins having a 7-2 advantage over Tom Ford.

Today though belongs to one man and that is Rory McLeod,who responded brilliantly when asked about Trumps shoulder injury,by mentioning that everybody has niggles and that he's one of the oldest players left on the tour.Well done again Rory.

Tuesday, 18 April 2017

World Championship Day Four Round up

Day four didn't quite have the fireworks of yesterday,but on a day where three matches finished the last 16 is really starting to take shape and we have some real mouth watering clashes in store.

John Higgins & Ding Junhui will no doubt both have slept soundly last night,leading as they were 7-2 over Martin Gould & Zhou Yeulong respectively ,but as we saw last night with Marco Fu that is not necessarily a decisive advantage.

The one thing you do need though if you are to come back from such a deficit is a bit of help from your opponent.and whereas Luca gave that extra bit assistance to Marco in their match,neither Higgins or Ding were likely to crumple under the pressure in the same way,leaving Gould & Zhou wondering what might have been had they had better opening sessions.

The scores in the end had Higgins running out a 10-6 winner & Ding a.10-5 one

Ding will now face his fellow countryman Liang Wenbo in the last 16 after Liang came through a real test against Stuart Carringtom.

Indeed a shock looked very much on the cards here as,playing quite beautifully, Carringinton  won five in a row,which included three consecutive centuries to go from 2-0 down to 5-2 in front.

From here though crucially Liang took the last two of the session to reduce his arrears to 5-4 going into the second session.

The big scoring didn't continue into the night session as a real nip and tuck battle started to unfold,but from 7-7 it was the more experienced Liang who pulled away to clinch a 10-7 victory

In matches starting today Judd Trump discovered,if he didn't already know,that nobody is going to roll over and hand him this title,he's going to have to earn it.This was really a session of two halves,as before the interval Trump played like defeat was out of the question storming to a 4-0 lead,but perhaps beginning to believe his own infallibility he started to push the boat out too far & Rory McLeod took full advantage . reeling off the last five to take a 5-4 overnight lead & leave thing perfectly poised going into tomorrow morning

Finally 2006 champion Graeme Dott will go into the second session of his match with Ali Caret with a three frame advantage  leading as he does 6-3 after their first session.

Monday, 17 April 2017

World Championship Day Three Round up

Day three at the Crucible and further evidence,if it was needed,that for all the quickfire best of seven events we now have on the circuit,nothing really compares to the unfolding drama you only get in long format matches.

That was certainly the case in the extraordinary match we witnessed between Marco Fu & Luca Brecel.

When Fu knocked in a century to take the last of the first session,it looked as if it was only small consolation as he still trailed the young Belgian 7-2 overnight,but nobody told Marco that as he came out all guns blazing tonight to try and claw his way back.

The first two of the session were shard to make it 8-3,but from here Fu really got going & against an opponent who seemed to be wilting before our eyes he amazingly took the next five to level it up at 8-8.

Considering all that had gone before Brecel did brilliantly to take the 17th frame to go 9-8,but Fu forced the decider taking the next and  after one of those tension filled frames,Fu took got in first and having built an early 48 point lead he controlled it eventually getting over the line to complete what at the start of the night seemed the most unlikely of comebacks,and break the young Belgians heart.The score 10-9

Meanwhile in the other side we were having one of those old fashioned ding dong matches with Mark Allen eventually pulling away from 8-8 with Jimmy Robertson to win 10-8.

Earlier in the day 2005 champ Shaun Murphy managed to secure his place in the next round,but only after surviving a real scare against the young Chinese sensation Yan Bingtao.

Starting the day leading 6-3 Murphy took the opening frame to go 7-3,but Yan took the next two to close to 7-5.This gave the last before the mid session interval added importance,but when Murphy took it and then the next when they resumed the writing looked on the wall for the 17 yr old.

Yan though wasn't prepared to say goodbye to the Crucible just yet and visibly warming to the task he took the next three to close within one at 9-8.This was now game on and in a way it was sad that the decisive moment came when Murphy fluked the third last red and cleared to nick it on the black and secure the 10-8 win.

Murphy can now look forward to a last 16 encounter with Ronnie O'Sullivan while Yan can look back with great pride on his Crucible debut.I know its a cliche,but we will certainly be seeing a lot more of this young man in the years to come.

Elsewhere Stuart Bingham finally saw off the as always determined challenge of Peter Ebdon 10-5 to advance to the last 16  and a meeting with Kyren Wilson.

In the matches that started today two of real contenders for this title moved within touching distance of the second round with convincing first session displays.

Ding Junhui produced the scoring display of the tournament so far to lead his fellow Chinese Zhou Yuelong 7-2 and John Higgins did likewise later to also open up a 7-2 lead over Martin Gould.

So it only looks like a matter of  dotting the i's & crossing the t's tommorrow in those matches,but having witnessed what we did today,can we ever be certain of anything in this sport