What you lookin at Willis? The Champ is back to face Mark Allen.
It’s the first day of the quarter finals today and a real mouth-watering line up with four of the best players in the world on show to light up the Masters again, including the reigning champion Robbo taking on Mark Allen first up this afternoon.
But firstly, what can you say about last night? Mark Selby again proving why he is the world number one by coming back from 5-1 down to a rampant Stuart Bingham to win 6-5. Poor old Ballrun visibly crumbled as the man famed for his brinkmanship came back with a vengeance, even after losing the sixth frame which saw them battle out the final green for close on half an hour while Dennis wittered on about a song called ‘My Old Man’s a Dustman’ (recently retitled to conform with Equality Laws to ‘My Parent or Guardian of no specified gender or sexual persuasion is currently a Waste Disposal Operative’).
It was truly a superb display from the Jester and there aren’t many players that you actually start thinking ‘he might just win this’ from 5-2 down in a best of 11 to a player seemingly at the top of his game for five of the first six frames, but Selby is one of them and there were plenty on Twitter that thought he would, so much so that at the start of the tenth frame he was bordering on favourite for the match.
Stuart claimed afterwards that he’d take the result as a ‘kick up the backside’ claiming he would ‘come back stronger’ but you have to fear that losing a lead like that in the fashion he did will take a bit of getting over, even for a player as experienced and level headed as him, but let’s hope not.
Selby said simply ”In the first part of the match, Stuart seemed to capitalise on every mistake I made, I was sitting in my seat at 5-1 thinking I can’t be disappointed if I lose 6-1. I knew if I got it back to 5-3 I would put him under a bit of pressure. I always think back to previous comebacks and think there’s no reason I can’t do it again. It’s a great tournament to be involved in. It’s the best of the best.”
Earlier in the day, MJW and Matthew Stevens had slogged out a fairly low quality affair which also saw a comeback. The BBC were keen to chart the demise of Williams by showing a series of his first two frames misses, some fair enough but others not and just to pad it out. They could just have easily done the same to Matthew who was only marginally less turgid in the first session than MJ. It was abundantly clear that both were low on confidence and nowhere near their best.
Stephen Hendry hit the nail on the head later in the match when he said that the winner would be the player that stopped missing the easy balls and from 1-4, it was Williams. The BBC also showed their best feature in living memory during the interval with Stephen interviewing his long time friend and verbal sparring partner Mark in a highly amusing 10 minutes or so. It was clear that the cutting room people had been busy as the bits they could not air were consigned to the waste disposal unit for the operative to empty and I hope the interview makes it onto the website or You Tube very soon as it’s worth a watch if you missed it.
Back to the match and there were some ‘whispers’ from a few that all might not have been what it seemed between lifelong friends MJ and Matthew. I can’t agree with that I’m afraid, anyone who has watched the two of them this season as I have will see that they were simply playing as they have been for a while, pretty poorly. But there will always be some that see things differently.
Let me tell you a quick anecdote. There was a match about a year ago and I forget who was playing but I know Selby was involved and 3-1 down at the mid-session interval. I still fancied him to win and tweeted my thoughts, thinking not a lot more about it. He duly won and as I do from time to time I had a quick look at the figures on Betfair and the forum which I used to frequent (they won’t let me on there anymore for some reason though are still happy to take my commission on the betting site).
In amongst the figures I saw that Selby had been heavily backed during the interval and that having won there were some derogatory comments on there about his opponent, looking further down the chat forum thread I saw that someone had posted my tweet on there just a minute or so after I had done it, saying I was predicting a Selby win together with a deluded claim that I knew what I was talking about. Now I can’t claim that this had any effect but from around then came a mini-gamble on Selby and then came the whispers.
Yesterday at 2-4 I’d have backed Williams if I’d felt like having a bet and I’d probably have tweeted this, I wonder how that would have gone down given the whispers? Most shrewd judges on Twitter were of the same mind, as coincidentally they were about Selby last night, one in particular (albeit a Selby stalker from Snooker Island) from as early as the seventh frame when he was 5-1 down claiming that losing the sixth frame would make him stronger, which it did.
Sometimes these things just happen and it can’t always be put down to the betting markets, in any case, I haven’t yet seen how the markets in this particular match transpired, but I’d take this one with a very big pinch of salt, in fact I’d be tempted to take a bag of salt off Jimmy White’s hands at the right price.
Anyway, it was a great way to celebrate the blogs birthday on the betting front. Both first round accas landed with the Selby comeback generating a fine 25 profit to a 5 point stake for those that followed them in. Also a 100% record on the first round selections and a decent outright book make this now a live betting event. I’m keeping the powder dry while the outrights are in tact but the double today for me would be Allen and Higgins.
Here’s a brief look at the two matches.
1pm Neil Robertson v Mark Allen
Head to Head: 4-2 Robertson. Last Meeting: Masters 2012 – Robertson won 6-3.
Neil’s comeback to beat Ding in the first round was a shining example of what a class act he really is, however, he is a little lucky to still be around and but for a fraction of an inch on a rather unlucky positional shot splitting the reds from Ding he’d have been out, but the manner of his comeback was typical Robertson. Allen for me has been the most impressive player in this so far, his clinical first round win over Dark Mavis looked to me to be from someone ready to make a challenge in this, I said in the original preview that I thought he’d beat Robbo in the second round and I can’t see any reason to make me change my mind, before last year, Allen beat Robbo 6-4 in 2011, so it’s three years on the trot they have met in the Masters, I hope this one is as good as it looks on paper.
Selection: Allen to win 6-4.
7pm John Higgins v Shaun Murphy
Head to Head: 7-5 Higgins. Last Meeting: Shanghai Masters 2012 – Higgins won 6-3.
I still can’t understand how Shaun only beat Ricky Walden 6-4 the other night, he just seemed to relax when he went ahead and to be fair that is always something of an issue with him. Higgins looked something like back to his usual self approaching the end of his match with Ali Carter and when he wins tournaments he usually starts pretty slowly. He also spoke afterwards like he was here to win it and when he talks like that the other players listen, for me, with Ronnie gone he is still the best player the game has and I think we haven’t seen the last of him this week. I think he might have a bit too much for Shaun in this.
Selection: Higgins to win 6-4.
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THANKS TO MONIQUE FOR THE GREAT PHOTO OF ROBBO.