It was a cracking day at the Barbican yesterday to set up an all English line-up in the semi-finals of the UK Championship as we switch to a one table set up today for Ali Carter against Shaun Murphy over the best of seventeen frames and two sessions.
I had to head back to my sick bed yesterday morning feeling utterly awful but happily I just made it back in time to park myself in front of the TV with hot drinks and a blanket to catch what was a great match between Murphy and Luca Brecel.
Luca again looked as cool as a cucumber and Shaun was clearly scrapping for his life out there and in the end the match was decided on a couple of shots which on another day might have seen a different result.
Though Shaun won, all eyes, especially Dennis Taylor’s bespectacled ones were on the young Belgian whose ‘lovely smile’ was something Dennis lamented on throughout commentary and was ‘lovely to see’, he also talked in hushed tones of Luca having a ‘bite at the cherry’ at one point before a voice in his earpiece diverted him to Shaun at which point he half-heartedly acknowledged that he had a lovely smile aswell. But we all know that our Den only has eyes for Luca.
Debate raged on Twitter, well when I say it raged I started it, as to how to pronounce Luca’s family name. Rob Walker introduces the Belgian as ‘Bray-sell’ but to be fair he introduces a Chinese player quite randomly as Cow You Pong so I’m not sure we should take his word for it, Willie Thorne prefers ‘Brekkell’ while Dennis just sits there gazing at him imagining him topless in a cherry orchard in soft sunlight, reaching and picking the forbidden fruits, caring not a jot what his name is.
Anyway, the replies that came back added more debate with Bruce-ull, Brikkell and Bru-cell all being thrown into the mix by the experts as being the correct version. One person claimed that having visited Belgium for a day this made them the authority, others claimed to live there and others claimed to know him. But it appears that even the Belgians or Flems or whoever they are can’t even agree so we’ll leave them to it, let’s just hope it doesn’t start a civil war.
Anyway, on the other table The Captain was busy with Stuart Bingham and looked in great form early on before Bingo fought back but Ali then took control of the plane again to set up today’s match with Shaun.
The evening session saw a remarkable turnaround as Mark Selby came from 4-0 down and a seemingly impossible position to beat Neil Robertson of all people 6-4. I for one didn’t think that the Jester had it in him this week and doing that against Robbo makes it all the more impressive and a real confidence boost for the man who is now surely a justified favourite for the title, which will see him back at Number 1 spot after all the fuss about Judd getting there a few weeks ago. It finished after midnight and at times it was far from pretty, but we’d been spoiled in the afternoon and it kind of felt like we were being made to pay for it by staying up for this.
Dark Mavis’s great run continued too and he now faces Selby in tomorrow’s semi-final, he beat Matthew Stevens 6-4 and spoke of the influence that good old Terry Griffiths is having on ‘the mental side’ of his game which is ‘quite simple but great’. Terry is clearly something of a guru to the players, but what is it that he says to them other than stating the bleeding obvious? I don’t know but it seems to work wonders for the under-confident potters.
Anyway, it’s been a tough betting week and just as it looks like things are taking a turn for the better something like last night happens, only a title win for The Captain can really help out so fingers crossed for him as I do believe he has a big chance now.
Shaun Murphy v Ali Carter (Head to Head 2-4)
These two have met twice on the biggest stage of them all at the Crucible and both times Ali came out on top, in 2008 winning 13-4 and in 2010, the last time they played each other 13-12. Shaun wobbled a bit yesterday and as well as Luca played, in truth he should really be sitting watching his opponent play Carter at home. Ali in the meantime to me has looked confident, assured and assertive and he’s got here playing, according to him not all that well. He’s bossed every match he’s had so far and is starting well out of the blocks and for me is in the better form of the two, the one time he’s looked a bit shaky was yesterday when Bingham came back at him, but he regrouped and kicked on again, the sign of someone right on top of their emotions. I really think he’ll win here and he’s odds against again to come through, I’ll put my head on the block with a maximum recommended bet, for a score I’d plump for 9-6 which is 9/1 at Apollobet.
Recommended Bet: 5 points on Carter to beat Murphy at 5/4 with Boylesports
Thanks again to Monique for the main photo. You can hear all the press conferences from the semi-finalists and their defeated opponents in full here.