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First round draws of death

Postby Tubberlad

This year's World Championship draw has thrown up a few cracking ties: Ronnie O'Sullivan must negotiate arguably the strongest qualifier Liang Wenbo, and as we're about to read, it isn't the first time Ronnie has drawn the short straw. Ken Doherty, the 1997 champion, must take on one of the tournament favourites, Mark Selby, a paring that has given us more than one tight finish. Graeme Dott & Peter Ebdon, the two best matchplayers of the past 10 years, will play out a repeat of their epic 2006 final, but it could be Marmite 'love it or hate it' snooker all round. Also, Jamie Cope's clash with Ali Carter must be considered one of the spiciest first round ties, two strong players, but will their lack of mental edge let the game down?

Anyway, with all these mouth-watering clashes in store, it made me think of some of the tastiest first round draws over the last ten seasons...

2009: Stephen Hendry 10-7 Mark Williams
Seven times winner Hendry went into this one as a marginal outsider in many people's views. Williams, twice a Crucible winner himself, was the qualifier to avoid, and had been showing signs of a return to form, while Hendry had put down a season to forget. It was Hendry who started the brighter however, racing into a 4-1 lead. Frustratingly for the Scot, Williams fought back well, and by the end of the session had moved in front. Williams crucially shaded the first frame of the second session, and appeared to be on his way to victory when he moved 7-5 ahead. But Hendry wasn't done yet, and as Williams experienced some tip problems, the game would turn on it's head. He stole the 13th frame by a single point courtesy of a fine 51 clearance, and levelled the game with an 83. The next three frames were tight, but the Scot prevailed, a hugely impressive win.

2008: John Higgins 10-5 Matthew Stevens
True, Stevens hadn't been particularly impressive all season, but the Welshman was still the nightmare draw considering his Crucible pedigree. Suitably, it was the defending champion who took him on in an opening day encounter. Stevens started brighty, taking the first with an 83, and moving 2-1 up with a 112 break when on course for a slightly ridiculous maximum break. Higgins stepped up a gear from their however, and went into the evening session with a 7-2 lead. Stevens has a reputation for Crucible comebacks, and interestingly took the first three frames of the evening, to close to 7-5. Higgins closed the game out though in stunning fashion: breaks of 75, 120 & 103 put him into round two, where he would be knocked out by Stevens' compatriot Ryan Day.

2007: Ronnie O'Sullivan 10-2 Ding Junhui
The two favourites for glory were paired off at the draw, just months after O'Sullivan demolised the Chinese player 10-3 at the Masters. In truth, despite being the standout draw, Ding never really stood chance considering his recent thumping at the hands of the same man, and it was harsh lesson on his Crucible debut. O'Sullivan took an 8-1 lead after the first session, putting the tie beyond all doubt with runs of 58, 50, 109, 63, & 70. Ding took the first frame the following morning, but that's as good as it got.

2006: Ken Doherty 10-1 Barry Hawkins
Perhaps not the most glamorous fixture at first sight, but you have to remember the form of both players at the time. Doherty had arguably been the player of the season, with his triumph in Malta against John Higging being the highlight. Hawkins had put in a strong season, with a top 16 spot well and truly wrapped up, he was considered the toughest draw. And, he took the first frame of what was being considered the tie of the round. What a letdown it was. Doherty was far too consistent & strong, Hawkins though a lesson on his debut. 10-1 Doherty.

2005: Ronnie O'Sullivan 10-9 Stephen Maguire
For many people, the title was going to be decided on day one. O'Sullivan & Maguire had been the two outstanding players of the season. The Rocket had won three ranking events, but had twice come badly unstuck against the sensational Maguire, winner of the UK Championship in devestating fashion. The match was no disappointment, but may have ruined Maguire's confidence. The Scot started well, with breaks of 69 & 72 putting him two-nil up. O'Sullivan levelled it by winning frames 3 & 4, but Maguire reclaimed the lead by taking the fifth. O'Sullivan knocked in a 115 break, and it was the catalyst for a 5-4 opening session lead. O'Sullivan went 6-4 ahead, but Maguire hit form, taking the next four frames, with a 102 thrown in for good measure. O'Sullivan pegged it back to one, but Maguire made it 9-7, and looked set for the win when in a strong position in frame 17. He inexplcibaly missed a simple black, and O'Sullivan was ruthless. 10-9, and a big dent in Maguire's future aspirations.

Re: First round draws of death

Postby SnookerFan

I was at Hendry and Williams, and Higgins and Stevens. <ok> This year I haven't been so lucky with the draws. Still, you win some you lose some.

Re: First round draws of death

Postby Rocket_ron

excellent article as always tubbs :bowdown:

I can remember ronnie being drawn against ding and i thought intercourse me, ronnie has got a job on his hands here, i expected 10-8 ronnie i was really surpised to see it end up 10-2 ronnie.

I feel ronnie is gonna need the same inspiration against Wenbo

Re: First round draws of death

Postby Wildey

rocket_ron wrote:I can remember ronnie being drawn against ding and i thought intercourse me,

each to their own lol