Tuesday, 22 April 2014

2014 World Championship (Day 3) - Ding puts Crucible dream on hold

Dream over for Ding Junhui
The third day of this wonderful Crucible delight and the shockers are beginning to show - Ding Junhui, the one that we all have seen as the future Crucible king has left the competition defeated by the Crucible-debutant Michael Wasley after a tremendous cues-battle.

The lads ended their first session with Ding in charge at 6-3, but Wasley started the second one full of confidence firing in breaks of 135 (total clearance) and 44 to draw level at six apiece.

Ding fought back as usual and with runs of 73 and 64 re-took control of the match, at 8-6. This was getting interesting.

The 24-year old lad from Gloucester didn't give up so easily and pulled back two consecutive frames, for both of them his biggest break being a 41 one, in order to stay side by side with Ding.

Amazing Wasley
Minutes before the match would be suspended (the players took their time in finishing their final session and Selby v. White match had to start), Ding put his nose back in front by winning a tough encounter finished on the green and brown.

Late in the night, these two masters of the green baize returned to finish their rivalry, Wasley being the one to force the decider with an amazing 103 break!

The last frame was a very tough and close battle of cues that lasted over 40 minutes, in the end the one prevailing it being the youngster, Michael Wasley who won on a final result of 10-9.

Another interesting match that saw a lot of twist and turns was the one featuring the likes of Joe Perry and Jamie Burnett, who ended their first session with the Scotsman in the leading position, at 6-3.

Joe Perry to meet the Rocket
Joe started the battle at full speed, runs of 87 and 70 bringing hope for a complete comeback, although what happened next was a typical case of scrappiness.

With a top break of 35, Perry drew level at 6-6, while the next frame (won on the black) put in the lead for the first time since being 3-2.

Two more frames were added to Perry's account (which actually means a total of six consecutive frames!) the OnQ Promotion's player being now just one away from victory, when Burnett seemed to have woken up from the dead and hit a great 111 to pull back a frame!

But it was a bit too late for a comeback, Perry using a solid 81 break to seal his victory at 10-7 for a special meeting with the Rocket - Ronnie O'Sullivan in the second round.

Selby is through to the next round
More drama to follow up next, as Mark Selby and Michael White decided to go hand in hand up until the last playable frame!

The morning session saw a very determined Selby who almost flew all the way to 3-0 (breaks of 88, 57 and 43 included) before White made room for him and his talent (although his biggest break was a 41 one), to end the snooker love affair by trailing 5-4.

As the last session began, Selby used breaks of 78, 68, 51 and 42 to go 8-4, before White could react and started his comeback.

And just like before, his comeback although not consisting in considerable breaks (he only recorded a 42 and a 62 clearance), was quite enough to put him on the same step as Selby, at 8-8.

Michael White put Selby in quite some trouble
The next two frames were shared, White being the one to force the decider, but Selby make the most of the given chance and scored a break of 57 to draw the line at 10-9, in his favour.

An out-of-form John Higgins met with his fellow-countryman and friend, Alan "The Angle" McManus, whose tartan trousers became all the range at the Crucible, their first session ending with Alan leading by 6-3.

Although Higgins proved to make the most of the first frame, his opponent made the most of the following SIX frames with top breaks of 87, 47, 32 and 74 to go 6-1 up!

Meanwhile, Higgins was all over the place, trying to make no less than two 147s and failing both times, his first attempt also costing the frame, as the Scotsman missed the black on 49.

Alan McManus and his tartan lucky trousers
However, as the session was coming to an end, Higgins managed to pull back two frames, with a bit of help from runs of 80 and 57, to trail 6-3.

Ricky Walden and Kyren Wilson ended their first session on the same 6-3 result, Kyren taking off by using breaks of 137, 81 and 50 to land on a 3-1 scoreline, before his opponent registered runs of 44, 48 and 74, not only to draw level, but also to take the lead, at 6-3.

Tuesday's full schedule:

Marco Fu v. Martin Gould
John Higgins 3-6 Alan McManus (the winner with play against Ken Doherty)

Barry Hawkins v. David Gilbert
Judd Trump v. Tom Ford

Ricky Walden 6-3 Kyren Wilson 
Mark Allen v. Michael Holt

Monday, 21 April 2014

2014 World Championship (Day 2) - Doherty rolls back the years

Kenny - the happy bunny
Our second day at the Crucible has been full of surprises and thrilling matches, one of the biggest ones being the fact that "The Darling of Dublin", the man who conquered the world title in 1997, the one who's called the "pride of Ireland", Ken Doherty managed to beat Stuart Bingham by an incredible 10-5 scoreline.

Ken hasn't won a Crucible match since 2006, which makes this victory even more important, added to the fact that the Irishman won no less than six consecutive frames during the second session, to cross the finish line.

As we all know, the lads landed on a 5-4 scoreline after their first snooker encounter, Bingham having a slightest advantage and a better cue action. But things changed dramatically today, when the boys returned into the arena.

Bingham must put his Crucible dream on hold this year
One very happy chap, Ken entered on a traditional Irish song, clapping his hands like he was anticipating what was coming next.

Although the cues-battle had a very, very scrappy start, Ken managed to win the first frame and add a 55 break in order to take the lead for the first time in the match, at 6-5.

Runs of 60, 42, 37, 37 and 57 were helping him go just one away from victory, an out-of-sorts Bingham struggling to barely pot some balls.

The victory was completed by a 60 break and a heart-felt hand shake from Stu, who unfortunately had to end his Crucible run in the very first round.

Punching the air
An over-the-moon Doherty punched the air, showing to the entire planet how much does it mean to win in the home of snooker. Meanwhile, the online community was making sure he was trending on Twitter UK.

Also ending their snooker love affair were the Captain Ali Carter and the Crucible-debutant Xiao Guodong (5-4), who continued their match on a very close, though not very exciting note.

Xiao took initiative from the very first frame (aka. the 10th one actually) and drew level, going even further and putting his nose in front at 6-5.

Captain Carter flies over Xiao right in the second round
However, the Captain had other plans and with a bit of help from breaks like 81 and 55 he turned the scoreline into his favour, at 7-6.

Xiao fought back and levelled up once more, but Carter stood his ground and regained control of the match quickly enough.

One more try was made by the merciful Chinese player, whose magnificent clearance of 69 points was bringing the balance on the scoreboard at 8-8, before Carter could wrap up the match by hitting a top break of 80, for a final and decisive 10-8 scoreline.

Stephen Maguire and Ryan Day had one of the most thrilling matches ever, especially since they've started (or better, re-started) their cues-crossing with Day having a dangerous 6-3 lead over the Scot.

Maguire's fire ignited a bit too late
Maguire had a poor start, but managed to pull back a frame as the second session kicked off, in response Day conquering no less than two consecutive frames, by using breaks of 35 and 69.

Thanks to a 56 break and a marvellous clearance of 134 Maguire was proving to the entire world that the fire within is still burning, thus reducing the gap at 8-6.

But when Day hit a strategic 60 break to go just one away from victory, Maguire unleashed his fury and started his comeback. Breaks of 58, 73 and 91 proved quite enough to level the scoreline and set the very first decider of this year's World Championship.

Day gets the best of the first decider
The last frame was pure thrill, both players having early chances to start building their road towards the finish line, but in the end it was Ryan Day and his great clearance of 92 that closed the snooker deal.

And once again, the snooker fans worked in their mysterious ways and made Ryan Day trend on Twitter. Snooker's getting quite popular, I must say.

At the near table, a similar situation was underway. Shaun "The Magician" Murphy and the very cool-as-cat Jamie Cope were disputing their second session, with Cope holding a tiny but important advantage of 5-4.

The Smurf is through the next round
Following the same pattern, Murphy took the 10th frame with a great 75 clearance, Cope taking the next two, with runs of 44 and 32, for a 7-6 lead.

Murphy fought back and grabbed the following two frames, with a bit of help from breaks like 67 and 52, to draw level before his opponent put his nose back in front, this time at 8-7.

One again Murphy caught up with him, only that this time he also moved pass him after firing a 58 break.
I must say that he had a huge chance to end the match and avoid a painful decider, but he missed a red with the rest, Cope managing to close the gap and force the decider.

Things got very scrappy and although Cope seemed to be the most composed and cool player of the two, Murphy's experience with major tournaments and great venues, had its saying, the Magician crossing the winning-line with just a top break of 29, for a final and well-deserved 10-9 scoreline.

Jamie couldn't cope with the pressure
Ding Junhui meet with the Crucible-debutant Michael Wasley, their first session ending on a 6-3 result in favour of the Chinese player, while Jamie Burnett obtained the same scoreline by playing Joe Perry.

Things went pretty smooth between Ding and Michael, the interval finding the lads all square at two apiece, but after it Ding started hitting the ball and with runs of 136 and 65 he took charge of the match's faith with a 6-3 scoreline.

Played on the same note, Jamie and Joe went hand in hand up until 2-2 and then 3-3, afterwards Burnett firing in breaks of 61, 32 and 94 for a 6-3 considerable lead.

Monday's full schedule:

Joe Perry 3-6 Jamie Burnett (the winner will play Ronnie O'Sullivan)
Mark Selby v. Michael White

2.30 pm
Ding Junhui 6-3 Michael Wasley
John Higgins v. Alan McManus

Ricky Walden v. Kyren Wilson
Mark Selby v. Michael White (the winner will play Ali Carter)

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