Hamilton wins German Masters

Anthony Hamilton beat Ali Carter 9-6 to win the 2017 German Masters, but most importantly his first even ranking title in 26 years as a professional snooker player.

"The Sheriff of Pottingham" had a difficult draw, having to face the likes of Mark Williams, Mark Selby, Barry Hawkins and Stuart Bingham until reaching the final. Not that his last opponent was an easy one to deal with, by any chance.

The first session was clearly dominated by Carter who was sure to win the first three frames before Hamilton could respond and conquer the following two and trail 3-2.

However, breaks of 100 and 54 were pushing "The Captain" at 5-2 up, Anthony just managing to wrap up a 56 to close the session just two frames behind.

But when the lads returned for their final snooker rendez-vous, we saw a very, very different Hamilton!

Breaks of 49 and 118 were drawing level at five apiece, where a 73, 74 and a 70 were throwing Hamilton just one away from victory, at 8-5. This was pure gold!

Carter fought back with runs of 41 and 42 to prolong the suspense, but in the end "The Sheriff" closed the deal with a beautiful 57.

Clearly over the moon with joy, Anthony barely found the words to describe his feelings about the victory and even had trouble when receiving the trophy. He later said that it was the first time so he didn't even know what to do with it.

Interestingly enough, for a player that was so close to drop out of the Main Tour a few time go, Hamilton stated that what made the difference and put him back on track was "confidence". Gotta admit is something that gets so overlooked these days, doesn't it?

As for his opponent, Carter showed the same style and elegance as ever, congratulating his opponent and saying that he really looks forward to the next tournament, which is of course The World Grand Prix.

See you in Preston, snooker lovers!

Photos credit: World Snooker 

Hanging out with the Masters

Last week was a very important one in the history of snooker, as Ronnie O'Sullivan managed to break yet another record and win his 7th Masters crown by defeating Joe Perry, 10-7 in the grand finale.

It was an outstanding victory given the circumstances (Ronnie cue's tip broke at the very beginning of the semi-final against Marco Fu), but he produced the "winning snooker" that was needed to move pass Stephen Hendry and his collection of six Masters trophies.

But what makes this tournament even more special for me, is that I was there for part of the magic.

The friends of the blog know that I have been waiting for this for almost seven years, so it's needless to say that I was overwhelmed to reach Ally Pally and be in the press room, as well as in the audience for a brief time.

Do to some businesses that I had to attend in London, I took the liberty to visit as much as possible of this lovely city, but to also get down to some more serious matters like attending the 2017 Dafabet Masters second semi-final.

It was absolutely a dream come true for which I was a total mess and felt just like a high-school girl on her first day of school. Absolutely all over the place: huge, silly smile on my face, not being able to talk too much or say anything intelligent (although in all honestly I rarely do), trying to capture everything that I was seeing in one glance, hands shaking ... you know ... the entire package.

I was fortunate enough to have the best of both worlds, so I enjoyed snooker from both the press room and the audience, for this and the opportunity itself, having to thank Lewis Ward and Ivan Hirschowitz who were kind enough to let me drool all over the place. Just kidding ... I do know how to behave myself in public.

The biggest surprise by far was to actually meet Matt Huart from ProSnookerBlog, a person that inspired me so much when I first started blogging and who keeps on doing so even today.

He was kind enough to be my guide and show me around the venue, to see the practicing tables, the other side of the arena (the one that's not on the telly), with the Beebs' headquarters, the EuroSport's room and the commentary box .

We've talked about the size of the venue in comparison with the Crucible and how intimate is the atmosphere there, so yeah ... if I needed a push to get my act together and raise money for the 2018 World Championship, now I've got it.

But back to snooker: as I was saying before, I was there for the 2nd semi-final so Barry Hawkins and Joe Perry were the main actors on stage.

It was a pretty tight snooker affair (well, the final scoreline was 6-5, so go figure) and you could feel how much it was at stake for both of them.

Hawkins was close to get into a second consecutive Masters final against O'Sullivan, while Perry was rooting to reach his first. Both of them are friends off the table, but boy you could feel the pressure on their shoulders and the urge to win.

I sat in the press room for the first session, but got up in the arena for the second part, at least until the scoreline was 5-2 in favor of Hawkins.

And since I needed to be spoiled with a bit of snooker drama, Perry made a comeback by using breaks of 41, 57 and 62. This wasn't an early night, no sir!

The final frame had a bit of everything in it, Barry having the chance to close, but it was Perry's 70 break that sealed the deal in the end.

I witnessed a press conference with a devastated Barry Hawkins that still found enough strength to congratulate his opponent and an over-joyed and super-emotional Joe Perry that was looking forward to his first Masters final.

I dare say that even if he didn't win it, this final will surely have a special place in Joe's heart. Is not everyday that you get to the Masters' final and play against the great Ronnie O'Sullivan.

Unfortunately I had to go back home the next day, so I wasn't there for the actual final although I lived it through the live scorelines and the Twitter updates (as I often do during the week when I'm at work).

So although my Masters experience was a bit of a brief one, I got to see and meet a lot of cool and talented people: Terry Griffiths, John Virgo, Jimmy White, Joe Johnson Stephen Hendry, Steve Davis (oh, my!), Rob Walker.

And let me tell you that it's genuine fun to hang out with Rob. The man is absolutely hilarious. Pure gold, I tell ya!.

Other than that, words actually pale in describing what's like to be at the Masters at Alexandra Palace. You can't really separate the audience from the players because they seem to be living and breathing at the same time.

It's amazing to see how mesmerized and captured Stephen Hendry is while looking through the glass from his BBC's box. Everyone's there living the match 100%.

It's like a perfect union of people who got together to hang out for more than just a few hours of snooker bliss. And this time ... I was there too.

Photo credit (1): World Snooker 

2017 Masters (Day 5) - O'Sullivan books semis place

Alexandra Palace was buzzing with excitement today as the first quarter-final matches took place in a full-packed arena that saw one of the favourites for the title (and defending champion for that matter) Ronnie O'Sullivan beating Neil Robertson 6-3.

Although many would have expected fireworks in the sky regarding these two lads, the match itself wasn't like that at all.

A few mistakes here and there and a playing style at a pace that doesn't correspond to either of the players made this snooker encounter puzzling enough to be watched and intensely devoured.

Robertson was the ice-breaker, a break of 74 giving him the first frame, but O'Sullivan responded with an out-of-the-blue 63 to draw level to which he added a 51 to take the lead.

By the half of the match though, the scoreboard was showing a pretty tight partial result of 2-2.

The Aussie started the second session by knocking in breaks of 59 and 62, but Ronnie was sure to clear the table with a 55 to draw level and add a pretty modest 47 contribution to go in front once more.

Robertson had a few chances in the following frame, but missed a lot (of course the fact that O'Sullivan got lucky in more than one occasion didn't help either), so the reigning Masters champion used breaks of 54 and 68 to close the match at 6-3.

Truth be told the scoreline doesn't say the story of the match, the first to admit that being the winner himself, O'Sullivan although stating that he "felt a lot better after being ill", didn't play at his best and managed to "drag down" his opponent.

Marco Fu continued his tremendous form and beat Mark Allen 6-2 in a outstanding display of high breaks.

Runs 74 and 83 helped Fu conquer the first three frames, while Allen fought back with breaks of 70 and 52 to make the scoreline go 3-2.

Still, his effort proved to be useless as Fu pushed back with 97, 140 and 65 to book his semis place where he will meet O'Sullivan.

Friday match schedule:

Barry Hawkins v Mark Selby

Joe Perry v Ding Junhui

*all hours are UK time

Photos credit: World Snooker  

2017 Masters (Day 4) - Selby prevails Williams' test

We are half way there with this year's edition of the Masters and yesterday we witnessed the fourth consecutive decider, Mark Selby prevailing Mark Williams' test and winning 6-5 after quite a battle of nerves.

On a totally different note though, Barry Hawkins recorded an outstanding victory of 6-1 over the 2015 Masters champion, Shaun Murphy.

Mark Williams started the match with a strategic 65 clearance that awarded him the opener, but by the time the mid-session interval kicked off, Selby was 3-1 up thanks to breaks of 139, 62 and 109.

But after not potting a single ball during the last three frames (in compassion with Selby's 327 carefully collected points), Williams won two scrappers to draw level at 3-3.

The reigning world champion managed to regain his leading position by winning frame 7, but Williams caught up with him after hitting a half-century break, the pattern repeating itself when Selby took frame 9 and the Welshman used runs of 53 and 58 to force the decider.

Unfortunately for Williams, a tremendous kick proved to be quite costly, his opponent using a solid 89 to close the match and get his quarter-finals place.

The Alexandra Palace's atmosphere is clearly magical, but when the evening came it seemed that there was no magic left for Shaun Murphy, "The Magician" being defeated 6-1 by Barry Hawkins.

Hawkins used breaks of 79, 89 and 85 to fly at 5-0 up before Murphy could win his first (and last) frame of the match and added a 50 to close the deal and set a quarters meeting with Mark Selby.

And since we are talking about the quarter-finals, it's time to see the first ones:

Ronnie O'Sullivan v Neil Robertson

Marco Fu v Mark Allen

*all hours are UK time

Photos 2&3 credit: World Snooker