China Open 2012 (Day 3) - Return of titans

20:05:00 Ramona Dragomir 0 Comments

Is Higgins back for good?
As the days go bye, the China Open tournament becomes more and more interesting, today being the day when certain green baize titans have returned to claim their throne, this being the case of John Higgins who beat Rory McLeod by 5-1, Mark Williams who used the same scoreline to "get rid" of China's Jin Long, but also the one of snooker's Captain, Ali Carter who fought like a lion for a 5-4 victory over Dominic Dale.

Ronnie O'Sullivan, the player whose absence was noticed during the last two tournaments (World Open and PTC Grand Finals) made a great start at the China Open by taking down Scotland's Marcus Campbell 5-4, while wildcard Lu Ning made another victim, this time in the person of Shaun Murphy, who lost to the Chinese man by 5-2.

He had a great last season, but not such a great one at the moment and with the World Championship just around the corner, John Higgins needed to regain some of the form that brought him no less than four ranking titles during the 2010/2011 season.

McLeod didn't stand a chance in front of the current champ
He met with the man that practically drained all of his energy during last year World Championship Last 16 round Rory McLeod, but this time Higgins wasn't going to let Rory get to him.

Although the match started in a typical way, meaning that the Scottish player had a great chance to take the opener, but missed a relatively simply red on 41, thus McLeod returning to clear for victory, what followed next was a genuine example of keeping it cool, assuming your mistakes and being extra careful with your safety shots.

Higgins was levelling the match with a 62 break and taking the lead at 2-1 with a 61, while runs of 20, 90, 40 and 58 were giving the current world champion the chance to write a 5-1 result on the scoreboard.

Williams on the road to potting like a Machine
Another great master of the green baize, Mark Williams managed to put the audience on their feet as he hammered the local star Jin Long 5-1 and even if the Welshman declared after the match that :

"I'm not playing anywhere near my best. To be honest I'm nowhere near as good as I was five or six years ago. I'm never going to be as good as that.", it is clear that this victory comes on the back of some serious improvements in his playing style.

With breaks like 74, 57, 78, 24 and 25 Williams proved he's still in the race, hanging on there and as he so well put it "giving it 100%". 

Ali Carter, who's been tormented by his illness during this season and never quite managed to get back on track since winning the 2010 Shanghai Masters title, shined a bit on the green baize.

The Essex man took on the Welshman Dominic Dale in a match that saw all its frames being consumed with the Captain always in the leading position. 

Starting bad, ending good - O'Sullivan
The runner-up of the 2008 World Championship broke the ice with a great break of 119 points and went at 2-1 up after a 77, Dale drawing level with runs of 33 and 78 as the interval was kicking off.

After the break the lads continued to be just one frame apart, but although Dale forced the decider due to a break of 45 points, Carter was wining it after a decisive 51.

After beating Jamie Jones 5-3, the wildcard Lu Ning made another victim, Shaun Murphy seeing himself in need of booking an early flight to go back home.

Lu used runs of 49, 37, 114, 119 and 68 to beat Murphy 5-2 and set a meeting with the Captain Carter for tomorrow after-noon.

Not a winner for Campbell
His absence left the fans upset in Haikou and Galway, but "The Rocket" came to play in Beijing and even to put on quite a snooker show; Ronnie O'Sullivan beat Marcus Campbell 5-4 after being lead 3-0 by the Scotsman.

What started with a very unfocused and inpatient O'Sullivan, finished with a perfectly in command one, the three-time world champion firing in breaks of 41, 46 and 65 to overcome Campbell's runs of 41, 25 and 21 and draw level at 3-3.

Wildcard Lu Ning in action
The Scotsman tried to take the lead of the match once more and he almost made it, a break of 58 being quite representative for winning the 7th frame if it wasn't for O'Sullivan’s runs of 32 and 41. So, now it was Marcus’s turn to try and bring back the balance.

It didn’t took him long, a break of 66 giving him the opportunity to play one more frame, but when he lost position on 41 by not taking his chances to pot a pretty risky green, O'Sullivan knew what he had to do. 77 points later the Englishman was leaving the arena after winning 5-4 over Campbell.

Ebbo is a pretty good form
If in December Ricky Walden was losing 9-7 to Mark Allen in the semi-finals of the UK Championship, now it was time for the Englishman to take revenge. And after breaks of 78, 62, 50, 28 and 37 and a final result of 5-2, his plan was turning into a reality.

A very important victory was also cashed by Peter Ebdon, who beat Matthew Stevens 5-3, while Stuart Bingham was ending on a 5-4 result his match with Joe Perry.

Day 3 list of results:

24 John Higgins 5-1 Rory McLeod
16 Mark Williams 5-1 Jin Long
14 Mark Allen 2-5 Ricky Walden
10 Stuart Bingham 5-4 Joe Perry

15 Ronnie O'Sullivan 5-4 Marcus Campbell
20 Shaun Murphy 2-5 Lu Ning
23 Matthew Stevens 3-5 Peter Ebdon
19 Ali Carter 5-4 Dominic Dale

Tomorrow the Last 16 round matches are starting with:

28 Ronnie O'Sullivan v. Mark Williams
25 Judd Trump v. Stuart Bingham
27 Stephen Maguire v. Ricky Walden
26 Stephen Lee v. Graeme Dott

29 Mark Selby v. Ding Junhui
32 Peter Ebdon v. John Higgins
30 Ali Carter v. Lu Ning
31 Neil Robertson v. Stephen Hendry

*all hours are UK time

TV coverage:
07:30 - 10:30 British EuroSport (LIVE)
07:30 - 10:30 British EuroSport 2 (LIVE)
12:30 - 15:30 British EuroSport (LIVE
12:30 - 15:30 British EuroSport 2 (LIVE)
19:00 - 21:00 British EuroSport2
22:15 - 00:15 British EuroSport