Welsh Open 2011 - Day 6 (the semi-finals)

06:10:00 Ramona Dragomir 0 Comments

John Higgins - first to reach the final
The last stop before the grand final was made and we now know the line-up due to entertain us today. It’s been a busy and hard day for all the four players, as each of them wanted to have a chance and lift that "looks like stone" trophy the next day :-P For two of them, that dream is much closer than before, as John Higgins and Stephen Maguire are through to the final. So, yes it’s going to be an all Scottish one "up for grabs" this Sunday.

The day was opened by John Higgins and Ali Carter, the Welsh Eirian Williams being in charge of the match. Although Ali made a pretty good start in the first session, the Essex man didn’t succeed in keeping it the same after the mid-session break. "The Captain" hit a beautiful 118 as to cash the first frame, then John hit in runs of 71 and 76 to draw, but also to take the lead and in the end Ali made a 49 that set the scoreline at 2-2. It was a tight battle and many of us thought that will also be the case after the interval....but it wasn’t.
Higgins` breaks of 69 and 55 put him in the lead once more and, as time would show it, his almost perfect cueing provided him with one frame after another, while Ali was set to score only 23 points during the second session.

Poor and sad little Ali Carter
The 6th frame saw the Scot making a 55 break, break that also meant that Higgins was now leading 4-2 and the next frame was going to copy it for runs of 23 and 37 left Carter hopeless to make a comeback, as Higgins was just one step away from reaching the final. And that final step that "The Wizard of Wishaw" needed came in form of breaks of 27 and 28. It was all over for Ali, who was defeated 6-2 by the mighty world number one.
And so, the defending champion, John Higgins, succeeds in booking himself a place into the final, where he hopes to keep his beloved title by the end of today.

The evening was way more complicated, as Mark Selby was taking one the second Scottish player left in this competition, Stephen Maguire. It was a hard battle, a true war of nerves and it squeezed the energy out of both players.
Just so you know it, from the beginning, the boys shared frames all the way through the deciding one (because we had one of those) and it was no way that someone could have break them apart so that one player could move over the other with more than just one point.

Maguire is potting his way through the final
Maguire took over the first frame with a break of 70, but Selby’s runs of 39 and...well another 39 equalised the situation. The third frame saw Maguire miss a red and stopping his break at just 65 points, this being the perfect time for "The Jester" to take over, but unfortunately he lost position while hitting a 48 so the frame ended up on the colors that each player tried to pot. The Scot missed to pot the brown three or four times, so Selby came to take his chances: he succeeded in potting it, but he missed the blue that also meant another safety shots battle. And once again, Maguire lost it, so Selby came to pot one color ball at a time, but he missed just by a fraction the black one...he just needed that one ball to win this frame and that nasty black decided it is for the best to stay on the table and defy the left superior pocket. So it was 2-1, in favor of the Scot.
Still Mark didn’t give up and leveled up the score during the next frame to go at 2-2 into the mid-session interval.

Breaks of 31 and 65 helped Selby to take the lead after the interval, but Maguire’s 137 (started by an outrageous fluke) leveled up the score as usual. One more time the Leicester man took the lead, this time with a break of 88, and one more time Maguire draw at 4-4 with a break of 54 and a 20 one. But for after the next frame things changed as this time was the Scot’s turn to be in front and put Selby in difficulty - Selby missed a red as he reached a 22 break, so Maguire hit a 109 to almost smell the victory.

Selby: "Lost another one..."
The decider was set as Mark hit a 90 break, but unfortunately his poor break off shot cost him the place in the final, as Stephen played some really amazing shots and hit a 67 to leave Mark in need of at least two snooker (later on he was going to need three). It was a tough task that wasn’t completed by Selby, so his opponent’s dream came true. He was in the final, where he’ll play against his fellow-country and practicing partner, John Higgins.

Here’s the schedule for today:

13:30 (UK time) - first session
John Higgins v. Stephen Maguire
19:00 (UK time) - second session
John Higgins v. Stephen Maguire

TV coverage:
13:15 - 16:30 (British EuroSport)
13:30 - 16:30 (BBC Wales)
19:00 - 22:00 (British EuroSport)
19:10 - 21:30 (or end of play) (BBC Wales)

Don’t forget that the first player as to win nine frames wins, so enjoy snooker and best of luck to both lads. :-)