Welsh Open 2011 - a personal note

18:39:00 Ramona Dragomir 0 Comments

The Newport Centre arena
The Welsh Open - a tournament that wasn’t very popular among the people, has amazed all of us with its new and improved format and with only two tables in the Newport Centre’s arena. Snooker was showing itself to everyone present and those who came to see it were more than pleased this tournament. Seven crazy days of snooker at full speed played by the most wanted snooker boys on Earth, whitewashes, tight battles, beautiful shots, laughter, tears, short matches, loooong matches, grind, desolation, but all that was done in the good spirit of a sport that keeps on "wow-ing" us every time its on.

I’ve always said that snooker is first of all a mental sport and then a strategic one, so it wasn’t much of a surprise to see Mark Williams in his "whitewash" mood, potting like a king and rocking around that snooker table. His confidence has been up after he won the German Masters, we all know what a terrific potter he is, but more over, we know that he’s that type of player who keeps on playing the game even if the score is not in his favor, or even if he plays badly. This wasn’t the case as his evolution was more than great. Still, in the quarter-finals Stephen Maguire was going to deny him the place in the semis with a 5-3 defeat. Not to worry, here comes the China Open and Mark Williams is the defending champion ;-)

Williams lifting the brown ball that he flied off the table
One of the most magical moments of this tournament was without doubt, Stephen Hendry’s 147 break. His 10th maximum break! He was over the moon when he did it and I will never forget the fact that Neil Robertson (who was playing Graeme Dott at a near table) was totally absorbed by Hendry’s way of potting the balls. He didn’t care for his match anymore; he was too much into Hendry’s cueing. :-)) That’s what great legends do - they inspire, they mesmerize, they keep on setting such a high standard that players nowadays look up to and say: "This is want I want to do!" You just can’t buy stuff like that. You just can’t put a price on inspiration. :-)

Dave Harold put quite a show even since he qualifyied for this event, winning two matches at 4-3 and one with a 4-0 scoreline. He sent home Ricky Walden in the first round of the Welsh Open with 4-3 and even though he lost 4-1 with Higgins, the guy can’t be blamed. He worked really hard to get to this point and he demonstrated to be quite a dangerous opponent. If you look at his cueing style you still wonder, until this day, how in the world can he pot any ball? I mean, he doesn’t push the cue back and forward, but "stings" the cue ball, that hits directly the nominated one which ends in the pocket. Maybe he’s not the most popular player on the circuit, but he sure has lot to say in snooker, even today. :-)

Taking care of the snooker table during the interval
The Welshmen gang was at its best! Matthew Stevens, Ryan Day, Mark Williams were all playing like dragons in order to reach the final stages of this competition. It was really nice to see Ryan back in business as he didn’t have such a good period lately. He kept on losing matches and that wasn’t very good for his spirit. But what do you know? A dragon may be sleeping, but he sure isn’t dead! :-)) He holds the record of ending a 2011Welsh Open match in just 48 minutes (the match played against "The Whirlwind" Jimmy White) and we definitely can’t overlook his beautiful and endless "rain of century breaks" from the match where he played his fellow-country Matthew Stevens.
And since we are on Stevens subject, well, well if isn’t he back?! :-)) It was really great to see him reach so high in the competition, but just like Williams he has defeated by a Scottish competitor, this time John Higgins, and ironically by the same scoreline 5-3. The Goddess Fortuna was looking for sure over the Scots during this tournament :-))))

Nevertheless, the final was one where two great talents and fellow-country friends were reunited: Stephen Maguire and John Higgins showed us what snooker is all about: playing hard, playing beautifully, playing under pressure, playing for you, playing in memory of your dad, playing with fire, playing on fire, playing for winning! Both of them offered us one hell of a show of what ambition, talent and determination can achieve and for that they deserve to be applauded. ;-)

Higgins and Maguire taking a photo before the final
For some, the shorten format wasn’t a smart idea, but I think we should try and give a chance to Mr. Barry Hearn. I said it one and I shall say it once more: the man is a visionary, he feels business and feels what snooker needs in order to become more popular. Have you seen so many tournaments and players more happy than right now? I don’t think so.
This new era that snooker is facing brings to life old loves, like the Welsh Open tournament and give them a special touch, so they can be closer to people’s hearts. Snooker is back and its stunning appearance is breathtaking!