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Preview/Day 8

Postby footygirl

It's Here At Last!

Yep 17 days of utopia. The world snooker championships at the Crucible, where so many dreams have come true and even more have been destroyed in the the Steel City.

Last year John Higgins played some of the best snooker of his career to lift the world title for the third time in his career - and I am still cursing the fact that I didn't put my money where my mouth was when I named Higgins as my tip to win the title. Never mind I suppose on reflection I didn't lose anything, which I suppose could be construed as a result for me.

Yet there is plenty at stake for the 32 professionals who find themselves in the first round draw. And didn't the draw do it's worst in the bottom half. More of that later on though.

Let's start with the defending champion John Higgins. He has on the face of it been given a reasonable draw in the first round against Barry Hawkins. But as any defending champion will tell you - walking into that arena to open the championships is a nerve wracking prospect at the best of times. The pressure is all on you and the champion has everything to lose- not least the world title. Steve Davis and Dennis Taylor know all about that- it happened to them. Davis - in 1982 when he was thumped by Tony Knowles and Taylor in 1986 when he was dumped out by Mike Hallett.
Could it happen to Higgins - I would be stunned. I'm not ruling Hawkins out of the match but Higgins's all round game might be too good for Hawkins.

Should Higgins survive the first round ordeal then he could come face to face with Steve Davis in the second round. That of course is providing Davis can see off his fellow Romfordian Mark King. Qualifying for the Crucible after dismissing Adrian Gunnell in pre- televised stages Davis will surely be the sentimental favourite of the fans. His match against King is wide open. And it is one I would not like to predict the winner of - probably because I would get it wrong. King's explosive potting will be given a thorough examination by Davis's tactical nous. Davis though may have an eye on the special one frame shoot out match against Dennis Taylor, but make no mistake he'll have his mind on the job against King.

Right to that bottom half- and lurking there is the former world champion Ronnie O'Sullivan in a minefield. The random draw did the Rocket no favours at all as he was handed a tie against Liang Wenbo. The Chinese star is fast closing the gap on his compatriot Ding Junhui and basically Ronnie is up against a top ten player in everything but name. O'Sullivan cannot afford to take his foot off the pedal against Liang. Wenbo's potting is more than a match for Ronnie - but I just wonder about his safety game. Ronnie's is deceptively strong and might well extract mistakes from Liang. When they come he has got to take advantage - or he could pay dearly for it.
Survive that challenge and it is probably another former world champion waiting in round two. Mark Williams confirmed his return to form with victory in the China Open and meets in his first round match Marcus Campbell from Scotland. Williams I think will be too strong for Campbell and I expect him to prevail to a showdown with O'Sullivan.

That bottom quarter is loaded - and it is a shame that only one of three possible winners will come through that portion. The third of this triumverate is Mark Selby. Selby who was a beaten finalist in 2007 by John Higgins must be cursing his luck as the draw hasn't done him any favours this year either. Not only will he have to deal with Ken Doherty in round one - but ready and waiting in round two is likely to be Stephen Hendry. That is of course assuming Hendry comes through an intriguing opening round against Anda Zhang. And(oops - that wasn't planned) of course it was Zhang who put paid to the hopes of John Parrott in qualifying - and in doing so prevented a few headaches with the BBC who would have had to do some juggling with the punditry schedules for Mssrs Davis, Doherty and Parrott if Parrott had qualified. There is no doubt that Zhang has the talent - but does he have the nerve to withstand the pressure that walking down the steps to Crucible arena generates within itself.

One other man to keep an eye on is Shaun Murphy - the former world champion has an early taster against Gerard Greene. If Murphy does progress he could come face to face with Ding Junhui, the reigning UK Champion. Shaun, does relish the longer format of the Crucible was a beaten finalist last year - after running out of steam following a gruelling encounter against Neil Robertson, where he just about scrambled over the line. Coupled with a 13-11 victory over Hendry in the quarter finals and the Englishman was completely shattered when he faced Higgins, and had nothing left in the tank. Important point to stress here that while it is good to have a long match under your belt- having two or three on the bounce is not ideal. I expect both Ding and Shaun to win - and set up an enticing second round match.

Yep I haven't named who I think will win it - OK I'll be brave here - I think the winner will be Neil Robertson. Robertson who won the Grand Prix in Glasgow this season has the all round game to go the distance and claim the title. He begins his campign against the durable Dubliner Fergal O'Brien. And should progress comfortably. And if he and Higgins keep their sides of the bargain they will meet in a quarter final.

Yes I can hear you asking - where is the first round shock coming from. Well I would say keep an eye on Jamie Cope and Ali Carter. Ali hasn't enjoyed the best of form this season - and Cope's potting so nearly accounted for Higgins last year. The Stoke potter has it in him to beat Carter and progress to the quarter finals.

Of course I could be wrong with my predictions - but that is the pleasure in writing a preview - seeing how accurate you were when you read it after the championships. You could be saying right now - why didn't she tip so and so. Well I have put my neck on the line and said who I think will win it. Let's see what happens over those seventeen days.

Enjoy it everyone - it will be a rollercoaster ride; so fasten your seatbelts and get ready for the action.

Suzy Jardine at The Crucible

Re: World Championship Preview

Postby SnookerFan

footygirl wrote:I see no reason why not - I'm heading to the steel city this weekend

<laugh> I didn't actually think you'd say yes,

Unfortunately, my work commitments in London may put paid to that at the moment. I guess we'll have to postpone our hot date until The Masters. Or The Crucible next year.

Re: World Championship Preview

Postby footygirl

Super Steve Stuns Higgins

STEVE Davis blew the top half of the draw for the World Snooker Championships wide open and promptly raised the roof of the Crucible Theatre with a stunning 31-11 victory over reigning champion John Higgins.

Resuming 9-7 ahead Davis had to sit and suffer as Higgins clawed his way back into a match to trail only 10-9 as they came down to the colours. Amazingly as a tense tactical battle ensued it was Davis who played a bad safety to let Higgins in. But Higgins couldn’t capitalise and to add insult to injury got a kick after having the balls cleaned. Hardly believing his luck it was Davis who capitalised as he took an 11-9 lead at the mid session interval.

Steve was then forced to sit and suffer as Higgins, the champion dug deep to level at 11-11. Which way would the match swing now? Leading 43-0 Higgins was surely the favourite to capture the 23rd frame but then missed a black off its spot and handed Steve a chance he must have thought he wasn’t going to get. Carefully stroking in a mid length red, the six times winner negotiated his way around the remaining reds and with a vital break of 60 went 12-11 up.

With Davis at match point Higgins was now at the point of no return. Yet John was not going to surrender his title without a fight. The reigning champion built a lead of 40 points in frame 24 before running out of position and forced into a safety exchange. Davis must have thought he would be going to the final frame when he managed to leave a red sitting over the centre pocket. To oohs and ahhs Higgins missed it. Backing away from the table in horror John knew he had gifted Steve a chance. Davis sat for a few moments to collect his thoughts before coming to the table. As he cooly dispatched the reds he came to the colours. Still though the six times champion was exercising discretion and forced a safety mistake from Higgins when the Scot left a yellow to the corner. Sinking the yellow Davis followed with a powerfully struck green. The brown was the problem it was sitting tight on the side cushion. Drawing on inspiration and skill Davis played the shot of his life as he doubled the brown and cannoned the blue close to the top corner pocket.

The blue was dispatched as a visibly shaking Steve lined up the pink to the centre. There was never a moments doubt as the pink dropped and the roof of the Crucible was raised. Higgins was gracious in defeat as he walked to the table applauding Davis before shaking hands with his conqueror.

Suzy Jardine – The Crucible

Re: World Championship Preview

Postby footygirl

Robertson fightback shatters Gould

NEIL Robertson staged an amazing fightback to deal Martin Gould, a former crpupier the cruellest of hands and book a place in the quarter final sof the world snooker championship with a 13-12 victory.

Robertson, so sure he was on his way out when he trailed 11-5 overnight had even checked out of his hotel. He will be spending tonight searching for accomodation with what was an unexpected extended stay in the Steel City.

Yet Gould was left to rue what might have been had he taken the last frame of the second session as the Australian put him on the rack for a scintillating spell of five frames this afternoon. Gould though was virtually frozen out as the Australian freewheeled his way through the first five frames of the afternoon to cut his deficit to 10-11.

It must have been soul destroying for Martin, b ut tak nothing away from Neil, who did nlot miss a ball in that five frame burst -and keeping Gould away from the table was having a devastating effect as Gould couldn't establish any rhythym. It is awaful to watch a player who holds such a commanding lead seeing it being gradually eroded - and the self confidence ebbing away in exactly the same manner.

From somewhere Gould though managed to take the the 22nd frame - pouncing on a Robertson mistake with one red left on the title. Robertson was left snookered on the last red and his escape presented Martin with the red to the corner from the shortest of range. Sinking the red Gould followed up with the brown and then cleared to the pink to move to within one frame of victory.

But if this was the Ashes then that was what Gould's dreams were to be left in after Robertson fired in a quickfire 35 break. Gould though couldn't take advantage of Robertson missing an easy brown and smashing the pack of reds up for him. And before he knew it the Australian was back at the table, and threw what was to be a sucker punch as he picked out a plant. The red on the top cushion looked to be covered by another- and given the distance between the two balls the plant was loaded with danger. If he missed it it would surely be all over for Neil, but the ball dropped - and on such fine margins matches are effectively decided. This was to be no exception and with a run of 16 which took Neil to the green. Deciding that discretion was gthe better part of valour he opted to play safe- and drew the inevitable mistake from Gould. Sinking a long green the Australian left the Englishman needing snookers that he wasn't to get, and sent the match into a final frame shootout.

How Martin must be kicking himself because he had the first chance in the final frame only to miss a long red when in prime position on 40. Robertson knew his opponant was beaten mentally. The Australian was not about to let him off the hook as he stepped in and wrapped up the match and booked a quarter final clash with Steve Davis.

Elsewhere Graeme Dott wasted little time in polishing off Stephen Maguire 13-6 to set up a quarter final against Mark Allen. And Mark Williams rorared back from 1-4 to be 4-4 with Ronnie O'Sullivan at the end of the first session.

Suzy Jardine - The Crucible

Re: Preview/Day 8

Postby Wildey

yes although martin had first chance it was a great lead to have in the decider and it took some brilliant pressure pots for Neil to win the match.