Another day of drama at Newport brought deciding frame victories for Matthew Stevens and, in the second round, Ding Junhui.

Stevens’s match against Barry Hawkins was of a superb quality. Indeed, Hawkins did very little wrong but his defeat was illustrative of the standard at the top level.

Ding’s victory over John Higgins was more dramatic. Ding led 2-0 but trailed 3-2 and missed a black off its spot in the next when well poised for 3-3.

Higgins set about completing a trademark clearance but was left with an awkward pink to a blind pocket using the rest.

He missed, left the pink and Ding made a good break to win the decider in a single visit.

It was thrilling stuff and today’s action is sure to provide more, with the opening attraction Ronnie O’Sullivan v Mark Williams: a clash of two authentic snooker legends.

I thought O’Sullivan looked relaxed – but not too relaxed – against Marco Fu who, one good clearance apart, did not put him under much pressure.

Williams struggled to put away Andy Hicks on Monday and has not beaten O’Sullivan in a ranking event for ten years.

Logic dictates this run has to end at some point but it doesn’t necessarily have to be today.

On the other table, Stephen Hendry will be looking to avoid an exit as disappointing as that of Steve Davis last night, who failed to reproduce the form of his win over Ali Carter in losing 4-0 to Shaun Murphy.

Hendry is up against Mark Allen, whose finger infection did not adversely affect his performance against Ken Doherty.

Allen was once left in tears by a defeat to Hendry at the Crucible but is playing with great confidence at the moment. Hendry will need to play as well as he did against Neil Robertson and, as Hawkins proved, even that might not be enough.

Can Mark Selby turn it on again after a few disappointing months? Selby played well to win three early season titles, including the Shanghai Masters, but has since entered something of a rut.

It’s hardly terminal. Selby is still world no.1 by some distance but it would be nice to see him playing positively against Martin Gould, who himself will surely play his usual attacking game.

Judd Trump is back in action against Stuart Bingham, who he beat in last month’s Masters.

This best of seven format is cut-throat and punishes slow starters but with 13 of the world’s top 16 making the last 16, it is once again proof that the TV environment will favour the game’s best players.

The only problem is that when the field is this good you want the matches to be longer to savour all the quality and drama available.


Ali said...

A bit off topic.
But does anyone know where I can find a list of top century makers. Sadly Chris Turner's fabulous resource can no longer be updated, but is there anywhere else on the internet which has a regularly updated list?


Ray said...

Was Joe Johnson having a laugh when he said that the pockets seem to be playing tighter this week?

When you think of all the shots Ronnie thought he had missed (and didn't)they must be really generous pockets for a professional ranking tournament.

And the black Allen potted against Stephen Hendry in the 3rd frame should never have gone in after hitting the cushion as far up as it did, however slowly it was played.

The pockets should always be cut challengingly because this is not pool!!!!!

Anonymous said...



Gerard said...

And once again we have an O'Sullivan vs Trump match ... Whatever happens, Ronnie must feel a bit of pressure after their last few meetings, but Judd will too probably. Should be interesting.

Anonymous said...

A little off-topic, but a little video of Joe Davis making a century:


It's pretty impressive, he is 60 years old here and makes a century in just over six minutes—he wouldn't be a slouch even by today's standards. He starts off the break with a fantastic cut into the corner pocket playing left-handed too.

For people who say Joe wouldn't be able to compete in today's game because the old-timers didn't score heavily enough, just watch the shot at about 2:30 in when he attempts to split the pack. He slams the cueball into pack and only a couple of balls come out; in today's game those balls would finish up at the other end of the table if you powered into them like that. As this video shows, Joe's century looks very 'modern', it's just the the conditions working against him. Anyway, great video.

Anonymous said...


were the pockets templated?

Anonymous said...

8.48 nice one!

I think many of the 'old-timers' are more of a joy to watch than people like Selby or Murphy nowadays. There are different styles of play in any era, but some are more attractive than others.

Anonymous said...

I don't know 825, but you sure as hell couldn't miss the pocket by a mile and expect it to slide in off the cushion.