Snookerbacker

September 6, 2011

Shanghai Masters Day 3 Preview

Filed under: snookerbacker @ 5:52 pm

Ladies: Form an Orderly Queue.

Wednesday sees the final eight matches in the last 32 with no fewer than five world champions, China’s number one draw and snooker’s hottest young property all on show.

Firstly however a look back at what happened today. It was a morning of some turgid snooker but plenty of high drama on the two TV tables. The defending champion Ali Carter looked to be home and dry at 4-3 and 50-odd up and in the balls but that old grappler Mark King fought back to force a decider with a turbo-charged pot on a re-spotted black which had to be seen to be believed. Even Ali laughed as Mark indicated to him that there was ‘no other shot on’. Kingy then managed to claw his way back in the final frame too to send the Captain on a premature flight home. I’m not going to ask him to blog about it as I do have some value for my own life.

On the other table, it looked for all the world that Shaun Murphy’s miserable start to the season was set to continue against Dom Dale. But Dom is a funny player, he wins matches he shouldn’t and loses matches he shouldn’t almost as a matter of course. Today he did the latter and thoroughly decombustulated from 4-1 up to give Smurf chance after chance to get his arm going, which he eventually did to snatch it. Sometimes a win like that can do funny things not just in the short term but also in the long term. Suddenly Murphy’s season is looking a whole lot brighter.

On the other two tables, Ryan Day started brightly taking the first two frames against Mark Allen before Allen woke up and rallied off the next five with ease. But the big talking point was of course the battle going on on the outside table between tonight’s cover boy Fergal and the man he is seeking to replace as King of the Grinders Peter Ebdon. Our Fergs winning 5-3 in just over four hours to set up more of the same against Kingy. Fergal is truly becoming something of a blog idol and I dream of the day that the name I have made up for him is adopted by Rob Walker.

This afternoon Ronnie looked impressive against a clearly overwhelmed James Wattana, who has been away from the limelight for so long it’s going to take him ages to get used to it again. We can’t glean much from Ronnie’s performance other than he seems up for it this week. But he wasn’t tested at all. On the other match table Mark Selby and Nigel Bond served up four of the worst opening frames to a match you are likely to see. But Selby has turned into something of a Grinder himself and won eventually and very scrappily 5-3. I sensed that he wasn’t happy with the table and I know that it plays quite heavy over there as it’s very muggy.

On the outside tables Jamie Cope survived a late fightback by Jack Lisowski to win 5-3 and Anthony Hamilton impressed again with some heavy scoring to beat Stephen Maguire in a decider. Three centuries from one of the games forgotten best breakbuilders ensuring a place in the next round to meet the Rocket. They will be getting the bunting out in Pottingham for that one and I hope that this signals a return to the attacking flowing snooker that Ant is best at, rather than the painfully slow safety bouts he is becoming more known for. We’ve got our fair share of them at the moment and the Sheriff is a better player when he attacks, much like Selby.

On the betting front, once the treble went down on Ali I posted up a max double on the remaining two to recoup the stake. With Hamilton winning we posted a small points loss but nothing that can’t be recovered with a bit more focus and less emphasis on these patents and trixies.But it isn’t going too badly so let’s see if there is anything there tomorrow.

Where applicable the head to heads are in brackets:

7.30am UK Time

16. John Higgins v Mark Davis (2-0)
9. Mark Williams v Andrew Higginson (2-1)
15. Judd Trump v Stuart Bingham (2-1)
14. Graeme Dott v Michael Holt (1-4)

Not a great deal to get excited about from a betting point of view for me here. Mark Davis comes to this fresh from his final appearance, albeit as a bit part, in Germany against Selby. He tends to struggle on TV tables in front of big crowds so a date with John Higgins in this arena may be a bit too much for him and despite the fact that John isn’t always at his brilliant best in China you would expect him to win through. Mark Williams has lost in the first round of his last two ranking events in China but he can be forgiven one of them when he famously lost to Stephen Lee 5-4 after hitting four centuries in the match that scooped Best Match at last year’s Willies. Andrew Higginson has started to post a few decent results including a win over Judd in Germany so if MJW is not on song that could be a close affair. Not one for the accumulators I shouldn’t think. Stuart Bingham is of course a new dad and I had to laugh that even though his good lady gave birth during the Paul Hunter Classic he still found time to watch and tweet about it such is his addiction. He seemed genuinely sorry to miss the event and seems to want to play in everything, even taking in Brazil next week. The Mrs is probably secretly glad to have him off her hands as he’d only be fussing away and she’s better off with girls around anyhow. The Australian Open Champion takes on Judd on a non-televised table in the battle of the hunks, such is the quality of the line up tomorrow. As much as I love our Bingo, Judd is beginning to look like a player who rises to occasions that suit him and I’m sure he is loving the increased attention he has been getting this week. It is however strange that he hasn’t usurped MJW to a TV table given the level of interest in him over there, anyway, I think 4/6 is a half decent price on him tomorrow. The only time Graeme Dott has beaten Michael Holt in five attempts was in this event at this stage in 2007, but they haven’t met since that year and arguably Graeme  is now an even better player than he was then and Michael is, well, still Michael. They both come into this in half-decent form but despite the head to head statistic I’d have to side with Dotty.

Hendry the ermm Ninth?

12.45pm UK Time

12. Ding Junhui v Martin Gould
13. Neil Robertson v Liang Wenbo (0-2)
10. Stephen Hendry v Rob Milkins (8-0)
11. Matthew Stevens v Stephen Lee (3-2)

The home hero Ding starts his campaign against Goudly and I think it’s fair to say we shouldn’t expect too much safety in that one. Gould has mixed form coming into this and there is a lot of pressure on him as we approach the first revision of the year in the rankings as he currently lies at number 16 and can be overtaken if he loses tomorrow and other results don’t go his way this week, or in one case even this session. Ding is a tough man to beat in China and I wouldn’t bet against him in the early rounds. I’ve had an interest in the outrights on Neil Robertson who to me is playing himself into form lately and despite the fact that Liang will be supported heavily tomorrow I’d make Robertson the best bet of the day. He’s slowly but surely getting back to the player he was this time last year when fresh from Crucible success he won the World Open (remember that?). You don’t become a bad player overnight when you are a World Champion and I predict Neil will have a good season, perhaps starting here. Just look at that head to head between Hendry and Mill Hopkins (AKA Rob Milkins), what happened there then eh? Rob had a very cosy win in the wildcard round in under an hour with a decent break in every frame, but looking at the record books it seems he gets a little phased by Stephen. I’d suggest that the 4/6 on Hendo is worth taking as even if his game isn’t as sharp as it once was, he knows how to play on his reputation, I can’t remember anyone ever shaking their knowing finger at me and saying ‘ninth time lucky’ so at the price Hendry has to be the bet. The match I am most looking forward to tomorrow is the bottom one, which in a perfect world would be the streamed match. Stephen Lee and Matthew Stevens are two seasoned campaigners but have only met 5 times over the years. The most recent being in 2010 in a PTC that Matt won 4-1. You have to go back 8 years to find the last time they locked horns on the baize. The added spice to this match is that it’s all about rankings. Matthew, with a win will be looking more likely to stay in the top 16 while Stephen with a win will almost certainly have re-entered the elite after a long absence. I was a little surprised to see Matthew favourite for this and whilst I would like him to win, a bet is a bet and at odds against you have to back Lee.

Recommended Bets:

4 points Accumulator: Higgins, Ding and Robertson pays over 6/4 at Skybet

2 points Accumulator: Add Judd Trump to the above pays over 3/1 at Betfred

1 point Accumulator: Add Stephen Hendry to the above pays over 11/2 at Stan James

4 points win Stephen Lee to beat Matthew Stevens at 11/10 with Blue Square or Victor Chandlers   

By the way we feature in Snookered Magazine this month here. See if you can spot me and no, that isn’t me on the front cover.

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