September 5, 2011

Shanghai Masters Day 2 Preview: Enter the Rocket

Filed under: snookerbacker @ 6:17 pm

Ronnie: Behaving himself, so far.

Apologies for the obvious headline, but you see, you put Ronnie in it and the hits double. Seriously, he’s still that big a deal and tomorrow he starts his campaign to win back both the tournament which saw his last main ranking title win in 2009 as well as the trust of the Chinese public and sponsors to make up for his errant ways over there ever since.¬†

Before I move onto tomorrow’s matches I have to say that I can’t remember the last time all the wildcards were beaten but that is precisely what happened today. All the players that qualified to play in the event by right came through unscathed and largely unphased.

Perhaps this is a reflection of the increase in match practice that all the tour professionals now have and how this has given them a greater advantage over anyone not competing on such a regular basis at such a high level. Certainly in the matches I dipped in and out of there was a stark difference that hasn’t always been so evident. Not so much always in ability but in the experience it takes to close out frames. Dom Dale and Nigel Bond could and possibly would both have been beaten had they faced more experienced opposition but their matchplay and sharpness carried them through.

In the morning session I was actually quite impressed with Fergal O’Brien who looked to be continuing in his winning ways of late. On the other streamed table James Watanna seldom looked troubled against the very ordinary looking Jin Long. James is notoriously hard to peg back when he gets his nose in front early and that is precisely what he did. Anthony Hamilton hit decent breaks in every frame in his whitewash of Li Hang and Jack Lisowski came through easily enough to set up a date with Jamie Cope tomorrow.

In the later session, as I have said Dale and Bond both came through largely due to their superior matchplay. Both missed balls that they can’t miss from now on. Rob Milkins took under an hour to win 5-0 and like Hamilton, was another to score heavily whilst Michael Holt did his usual and made life difficult for himself before coming through 5-3 against his little known Chinese opponent.

In terms of the bets so far, we’re showing a slight loss despite the recommended maximum bet treble going in, we always do OK on the max bets. I had figured that at least one and possibly two of the wildcards might spring a result but that was not to be and I have to say, given that I disagree with their participation anyway, I’m not too bothered.

So to Tuesday and the head to heads where appropriate are in brackets:

7.30am UK time

1. Ali Carter v Mark King (2-1)
5. Shaun Murphy v Dominic Dale
6. Mark Allen v Ryan Day (4-4)
2. Peter Ebdon v Fergal O’Brien (5-5)

Ryan: Tempting Bet.

The holder Ali kicks off against fellow Essex boy Mark King and The Captain has been making some positive noises about his game of late as well as hinting that he is beginning to get back to 100% health. Kingy has had a poor start to the season, despite beating Matthew Stevens in the most recent PTC and qualifying for this. But his qualifier against Liu Song was the equivalent of being served a match up on a plate with a free side salad and on recent form he will have to improve a lot to beat Ali. I have to side with the Captain there. It’s very odd that Shaun Murphy and Dom Dale have never met on the baize but there we have it. Shaun has been very poor in the PTC’s so far but played ok in Australia and you do get the feeling that he saves his best for the ‘proper’ ranking events sometimes. Dom will have to improve on today’s performance to get anywhere near him but is a player that tends to improve as tournaments go on as he showed in Australia and it isn’t beyond him to spring a surprise, but at best priced 7/4 that is way too short. Ryan Day faces Mark Allen with Mark having won their three most recent important matches including in a recent first round match in Australia. You sense that at the moment Mark’s full focus might be elsewhere and I’m tempted to side with Day here. I don’t rate Ryan as highly as some do but he’s a capable player at this level and randomly turns in some great performances now and again. I think at 6/4 he’s worth an interest tomorrow in case Mark is a bit pre-occupied. In the other match, expect a battle of iron wills between Fergal and Peter. As you know I have a feeling Fergal might just have a run in this and part of the reason for this is because I saw who he was playing after beating his wildcard, he’s a grinder and a very solid match player and doesn’t mind winning dirty, much like his opponent. Ebbo is unpredictable and you really should never write him off, but he’s clearly struggling at the moment and Fergal is playing as well as I’ve seen him, so it’s The Ferginator to march on for me at odds against.

12.45pm UK time

3. Ronnie O’Sullivan v James Watanna (5-2)
8. Mark Selby v Nigel Bond (2-0)
4. Stephen Maguire v Anthony Hamilton (4-1)
7. Jamie Cope v Jack Lisowski (1-0)

There are no prizes for guessing the main attraction in this session. Ronnie graces China with his rare presence to take on Watanna who actually whitewashed the chosen one in their last meeting 5-0 in the 2006 China Open. They first met in 1995 when Watanna also won in the final of the Thailand Open but in their five intervening meetings Ronnie has come out on top. He looks focused lately does our Ron, he has me fooled at least (wouldn’t be the first time) and I don’t think even he will be that inconvenienced by a few days over there, perhaps the trade off for not going on to Brasil next week. There is nothing I can see to suggest anything other than a routine win for the Rocket here, with perhaps a bit of magic to mark his return to China, 147 anyone? The altogether more sedate human form of Mark Selby starts his campaign against Nigel Bond and I really can’t see how Nigel can win that one unless Mark is totally off colour. Selby is the bet of the day for me. Anthony Hamilton scored well today and as you know I am usually happy to take on Stephen Maguire if I feel his opponent is overpriced. Mags decided not to play in Germany last week and I don’t know why, perhaps to prepare for this. I think it’s priced about right to be honest but with question marks over Mags and Ant having a good win today a small wager perhaps on the Sheriff beckons. Jack Lisowski should have beaten Jamie Cope in a recent PTC event and was 75-0 up in the decider and somehow managed to lose even when Cope missed a straight pink to clear. Jack doesn’t look to me like the kind of player to dwell on such things and given I had this as a coin toss, the 7/4 on Jacko has to be taken in some way shape or form.

Recommended Bets:

3 point treble Carter, O’Sullivan and Selby pays just on 11/8 at William Hills¬†

1 point trixie (4 points) Fergal O’Brien (Evens), Ryan Day (6/4) and Jack Lisowski (7/4) at William Hills

1 point win Anthony Hamilton to beat Stephen Maguire at 2/1 with Blue Square

Given Ali lost we’ll now have a 5 point double on Ronnie and Selby at 4/7 with Blue Square

The Best of Luck if you are having a bet.

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