April 29, 2010

Semi-Final Preview – History in the Making

Filed under: snookerbacker @ 9:35 am

You see that cockney man who thinks it's not a touching ball and is his own harshest critic? That's you that is.

Today sees the beginning of the long single-table format road to being the champion. It may already have been a rollercoaster ride for us, but for the eventual winner they have only won just over half the frames (1 frame over to be exact) they need to lift the trophy and go down in the history books as the first champion of this new decade.

Talking of history, one man who will shun the historical texts will be Graeme Dott. He is the only player left that has won it before and at the start of each of the last four decades we have seen a new name on the trophy, Ray Reardon, Cliff Thorburn, Stephen Hendry and Mark Williams all winning their first (and in Cliff’s case, only) titles in these years. So the big question for Dotty is will he turn the tide of history? On Monday will he be able to say to himself ‘I created history today’ .

As well as the semi-finals starting out, today also sees a ‘rematch’ of the 1985 World Final between Steve Davis and Dennis Taylor, perhaps that was what was on MC Rob Walker’s mind yesterday. Incredibly, the bookies have priced up this light-hearted affair, Dennis available at 15/8 with the sponsors Betfred, barking mad…

But to today, this is the ‘jockeying for position’ day in these 33 frame marathons, nothing can be won or lost today and as many have proved in the past even a heavy defeat in the first session doesn’t count anyone out of contention, but an 8-0 lead for any of these boys would be welcomed obviously.

Dott - Been there, done that.

Today is about seeing who adapts best to the change in conditions, they have all been here before and their respective records are:

Graeme Dott Won 3 Lost 1

Ali Carter Won 1 Lost 1

Mark Selby Won 1 Lost 1

Neil Robertson Won 0 Lost 1

They will all wake up this morning thinking they can win it, which makes the rest of the tournament a mouth-watering prospect. The latest odds have Selby as a clear favourite, but to anyone that knows anything about the game his price is too short, this is anyone’s now and it could get very twitchy.

Betting wise this has now eclipsed the China Open as my most profitable event. I stand to cash in on whoever wins and quarter bets on Robertson and Selby are in the bag as well as a cheeky trixie yesterday on Dott, Carter and Selby, all close, all ending up coming good. I think this week at least I am blessed with good fortune.

One of them will win me a very tidy sum indeed, a record amount for a mediocre punter like myself, while the others will win me a handsome profit and enough to keep Mrs Snookerbacker in shoes and organic beauty products (are you listening Ian W?) for the rest of the year. But all this means I can approach these matches in an unbiased, non-pocket-talking way and try and steer some more winnings for faithful followers from those nasty bookies. Let’s take them to the cleaners shall we?

So to the preview:

Respect. Is Due. To You.


Neil Robertson v Allister Carter

Head to Heads: 2-2

Crucible Meetings: 13-8 Robertson in 2009

Last Meeting: 5-2 Carter Welsh Open 2010


If Carter wins this match he will overtake Ronnie O’Sullivan as world number two.

If Robertson wins this match he will overtake Carter as world number three.

If Robertson wins the championship he will overtake O’Sullivan as world number two.

A great performance from Ali Carter last night when he finally got his game into gear to beat the once again flattering to deceive Shaun Murphy. Neil Robertson can only beat what is put in front of him and while on paper wins over Fergal O’Brien, Martin Gould and Steve Davis sound like a very easy path he has been made to work for it, albeit not by the Nugget who was obviously concentrating more on his epic match with Dennis that precedes this.

These two will be well aware of the ranking situation here and this has been the real mini-battle in the list all season behind the big hitters Higgins and O’Sullivan. They will both be keen to prove they are the better player and I think that bodes well for a very entertaining match.

Robertson was top of my shortlist at the beginning and I don’t see any reason to change my mind. I think he is a slightly better player than Ali and is just beginning to show what he is capable of, Ali is a fighter and a very strong match player, but he does sometimes struggle with nerves at the business end of tournaments, though he is learning to cope with that by talking down his chances, he’s a clever lad. I just think Robbo will edge this.

Recommended Bet: Robertson -2.5 frames (6/5 Sportingbet)

Selby - Pumped Up


Graeme Dott v Mark Selby

Head to Heads: 2-1

Crucible Meetings: 13-10 Selby in 2009

Last Meeting: 13-10 Selby in 2009 World Championship


Mark Selby needs to win this championship to secure a top eight ranking

Graeme’s win yesterday relegated Jamie Cope from the top 16 for next season, Graeme is now ranked 14 but could climb to higher with a win here, Mark King is at 15 and Liang Wenbo is ranked 16.

It’s nice that two of the three on my shortlist are still in the championship. Selby’s win last night continuing the hoodoo he seems to have over Ronnie in the big matches, there are some mind games going on there but the good guy always wins in the end in my world.

I for one was not upset to see the back of the Rocket, he behaved badly yesterday and to me he needs to take a long look in the mirror and remember that he is first and foremost, just a snooker player, that’s all. He isn’t an icon, he isn’t a national treasure and he isn’t above the game, I think he lost a few fans yesterday. A stark contrast to the fine sportsmanship we witnessed from Mark Allen and Shaun Murphy in particular.

But that’s enough about him, this is about the future of snooker and perhaps this championship will see the emergence of a new ‘decade dominator’ in Selby. He has been magnificent so far and has come through the quarter of death unscathed. He always looks shattered so you can’t really tell if he is feeling it or not.

Graeme has achieved what he set out to do and is now back where he belongs in the top 16. He is a fine fine player. I also have grown to really like watching him play, he is attacking, fearless and determined, he also wears his heart on his sleeve.

Graeme can approach this safe in the knowledge that a loss will not be the end of the world, I’m not sure you can say the same about Mark. He has a point to prove and is only half way to proving it.

To me, at the prices for a match that could go either way the bet has to be:

Recommended Bet: Graeme Dott (5/2 Betfred)

They should be two great matches and I’ll continue to follow them on here as they unfold. Good luck everyone.

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