Australian Goldfields Open 2011 - a personal note

20:45:00 Ramona Dragomir 0 Comments

It's been three days since the new baby-born Australian Goldfields Open tournament picked its champion and I already miss snooker - televised snooker, to be more precise. This has actually been the first major ranking event of the new season and to be honest with you I can't think of a better way to begin our classical yearly snooker marathon, rather than with this tournament.

Sure, we had the Wuxi Classic from China, but it only lasted four days and it didn't feature all of our snooker boys. Then we moved to Thailand for the revived World Cup, but that wasn't pure snooker. It was entertaining, I give you that, but without a constant rhythm. Those double frames have been a really pain in the arse for the players, as well as for us, the viewers and somehow it didn't manage to get me, you know? When you watch a snooker match and without even noticing it, all of the sudden, you feel you are there? Living the moment at the same time as the players, feeling their beating hearts and those tense moments.

But the Australian Goldfields Open has been a whole different touch for snooker. First of all, because it was held in a country that has been crying out for years for such a tournament. Second, because it was its first edition, so things couldn't have been more emotional and thrilling, and third ... well, because it was good old-fashioned snooker all the way through.

Ken Doherty had an extraordinary run
It's been a true delight to see most of the players that I absolutely adore, playing for a place into the next round and then fighting for another place and going all the way to the final. I say, most of the players, because as you can very well remember, we've been missing two of the greatest players from the Main Tour: Graeme Dott and Ronnie O'Sullivan. But as one of Queen's songs say "The show must go on!", so here we were ready for the big breakthrough of the Australian Goldfields Open.

The biggest issue for the views was the hours that snooker was on. If you live in the UK, you already know that the first matches were starting somewhere around 04:00!!! It was a killer! As for me, since my time-zone is a friendlier one, the matches were starting at 06:00. Not much of a difference, because I'm not a morning person. Night I can take ... I work in the middle of the night like a robot, but mornings? Neaaaah! They are out of the question. :-))

The tournament itself has been a great success in my opinion because we've had such a great line-up and such thrilling matches. But the best way to describe this event is to say "Surprise!". That's how most of the matches were: surprising. We didn't expect to see Judd Trump out from the first round, or the current world champion, John Higgins defeated by the debutant Matt Selt after the Scotsman had the victory in his hand (he was leading 4-1 and lost 4-5). Also, to see the likes of Ali Carter, Matt Stevens or Neil Robertson eliminated one by one.

Great start for the new season
Ireland can be proud of its man - Kenny Doherty - for the "Darling of Dublin" had such an incredible run! He won 5-3 over the powerful Scot Stephen Maguire, he ended up on a decider with a revived and very strong Liang Wenbo and defeated the fresh Wuxi Classic champion, Mark Selby by 5-3 to reach the semis of the Australian tournament. I really can't remember the last time I saw Ken playing so competitive and so good. Maybe the fact that he had his family close had a positive impact on his playing. However, he started the season pretty well, if we are to recall the fact that he had to qualify for this event and that wasn't such an easy task. I hope to see more of this brand new, powerful and eager to win Kenny, in the near future.

The Master Stephen Hendry didn't have such a bad run either. He won his first match against Martin Gould 5-3 and hit a very tactical 120 break in the process, but sadly after that he met the "Champions crasher", Matt Selt who was merciless and ended his quest for the title. However, after the Scotsman's recent statements that he wants to get back into Top 8, and after this first live performance, I dare to say he is back for the kill. Sure, he will never go as far as he did in his hay-days, but I'm sure he'll break some new boundaries this season.

The two finalists: Williams and Bingham
 I also can't overlook, Dominic Dale's performance that was a stunning one, proving that the Welshman is still able to kick arse, if anyone was doubting that but also Matt Selt's one, that for a "first time on TV" player did a spectacular job.

But above all these, the one that impressed the audience and the snooker fans, was without doubt, the champion himself, Stuart Bingham. He was given the chance to take on his "enemies" and take revenge for the matches he lost in the past by facing them.
First it was Ding Junhui and the little Chinese didn't see to stand a chance as the Englishman won 5-2 to pay him back the second round defeat he suffered at this year's World Championship.
Then, we witnessed the first and last whitewash of this tournament, as he crashed poor Tom Ford 5-0 to book a meeting with Mark Allen, the player who stated that Stu wasn't playing too bright under pressure. With a final scoreline of 5-3 and two century breaks of 118 and 112 he was now up for the next stage of this snooker event - the semi-final.

Bingham has proved he has what it takes to become a champion: he has guts, he has talent, he has ambition, and he has 16 years of performing as a professional player for crying out loud! It was his time to lift that trophy! :-))
Of course, this doesn't mean that Mark Williams, his final opponent wasn't worthy of that victory. He played like his nickname constantly reminds us, as a "Welsh Potting Machine", but somehow along the way Stuart got the courage to start pulling back one frame after another and finally won the battle.
All this snooker exhausted me!!!

I feel privileged to have been part of Stu's victory, even through the screen of my computer, for it was such a great one. And to see the lad all emotional, stunned that it finally happened and he won a ranking event, well these are things one cannot buy.

All these put together resulted in a wonderful tournament and I'm really glad that the first edition was won by a non-favourite player, for this will surely mean that it can be won by anyone who is bold, ambitious and can cope with pressure, in the following years.
Bendigo received snooker with its arms opened wide and I'm really glad the Australians were able to see this gorgeous line-up in action. Each and every one of the payers that you saw perform in this Australian Goldfields Open did their best to conquer the audience ... and they've definitely achieved that.