China Open 2011 - a personal note

17:45:00 Ramona Dragomir 0 Comments

The snooker table awaits its players
What a great tournament China Open was! What a thrill to see so many wonderful players from the UK as well as from China taking part at one of the most important competitions that this Asiatic country is holding each year! What a special treat for every snooker fan that was watching the boys playing so good and making such an impact on the audience! It was without doubt, one of the most successful events that snooker has had this season.

I can’t imagine starting this article with anything else than the performance of Stephen Hendry, the seven-time world champion that is in danger of losing his Top 16 spot. This hasn’t been a very good season for Hendry, but he was determined to make a difference and start performing well.
He succeeded in whitewashing the one and only Matthew Stevens in a match that saw the Scotsman practically on fire. Before you I can be honest....I didn’t think he could do it, not because he doesn’t have it anymore, but because Stevens is in such a wonderful form. What do you know??? Stephen Hendry won and he did it in such a glorious way.
I was truly and deeply moved by his persistence and by the way he was potting those balls. Anyone could see that he was eager to compete, that spark in his eye, that firm hand that was pushing the cue back and forward, that winner attitude, all those were back and he was the KING, once more. It’s true that he didn’t win the next match, against Ding Junhui, but still...he put quite a show in that encounter too.

Stephen Hendry in action
You know...I often wonder what makes a champion, what’s the "material", what’s the mentality of a person that wants to become a champion? Stephen Hendry has proved us that it’s about talent, determination, hard work, but above all that, it’s about knowing what you truly want! I always say one must love a legend, and he is one hell of a legend. ;-)

Stephen Lee, the second Stephen of the competition was also at his best. The "Bulldog" of snooker was responsible for eliminating the ex-defending champion right from the first round and that wasn’t an easy task. More since Mark Williams, hit four century breaks that time. It was a genuine battle of cues, that’s for sure, and as usual, when two great players are facing each other, the match was decided by the last frame.
But Lee was going to continue his stunning run as he defeated one more Welshman, this time in the person of Ryan Day, the one who the day before that won the match against "The Rocket" O`Sullivan. A bit of irony since Day won 5-2 over O`Sullivan, but lost 2-5 in front of Lee.
The following match was the one that ended Lee’s run and ...what do you know?? The player “to blame” was Ding Junhui. The little but powerful Chinese was going to "eject" one more Stephen from the tournament, in order to obtain a place in the semi-finals. :-))

The Victory Ceremony
Four names reached the semis: Shaun Murphy, Judd Trump, Mark Selby and Ding Junhui and all four of them offered us a wonderful show of snooker, a show that was going to continue in the big final only with Selby and Judd as the main actors.
If you didn’t have the chance to see that last match, please google it, try and find in on YouTube, because it’s worth watching. For me, it was one of the best finals of this season and it was something like last years UK Championship considering that one of the players succeeded in making a spectacular comeback. It’s true that he didn’t win the match, but to keep on holding on when you see your rival it’s just one step away from victory it’s something....

Judd Trump, the best of the best
This tournament revealed to the eyes of the public a new rising star, Judd Trump. He was, is and will be considered a real threat for Neil Robertson and for any other player from the Crucible because he beat some of the best players of the main tour in China. Those precise long pots, those crazy spins that made me remember Jimmy White’s first years as a professional player, that maturity, that determination to prove a point, all these can be made responsible for turning a teenager into a true professional player.

However there were some problems with the China Open and sadly this is not something new. The public was pretty rude and the players were forced to stop their game on several occasions in order to let the referee take action. Many of the audience members were ejected, many of them were asked to stop taking pictures, but that didn’t seem to work. I recall that Murphy said it’s really annoying and a player can easily lose his focus when the audience is loud or taking pictures and although I’m very happy that snooker is so well received in China, I can’t stop in thinking that some of those people in the audience crossed the line so many times. There were times when I, as a spectator, was bothered by the constant interruption of the game and if that was my case, I think that for the players was ten times worse.
Michaela Tabb, one of the refs in charge

Drawing the line, it was a very successful event, some people need to know how to behave, how to respect both players, not just one of them (even if one of them is Chinese), but it was all good in the end. The refs in charge had a lot to work but they received a very nice award as they witnessed some really great matches. Take Leo Scullion for example, he was at his first ever ranking final and what a final that was! :-)

China loves snooker and snooker loves China, so it’s a win-win situation as economists say :-))