Friday at the Masters sees the semi-final line up completed as another high quality foursome take to the baize. This time comeback king Mark Selby takes on Mark Williams and comeback prince Judd Trump lines up against Graeme Dott.
The afternoon session yesterday produced yet another cracker and another decider between Neil Robertson and Mark Allen which in the end came down to just one shot, Robertson was once again like steel under pressure and whatever it is he’s made of, I think a lot of players would like a slice of it. Allen can take heart from the fact that his last shot was totally fantastic and only a more fantastic one from Robbo was enough to make the difference, he can’t be too disappointed.
In the evening, it was simply a case of another match, another decider. This time it was the turn of Shaun Murphy to come back from the dead to pip John Higgins to the line. Higgins looked to me like the winner of the match from very early on but you can’t keep a good Smurf down and afterwards Shaun modestly quipped that he might change his name from The Magician to Houdini such was the manner of his escape from the jaws of defeat. He marches on now to face Robbo in the semi-finals in what should be a cracker.
Lots of talk on Twitter yesterday afternoon surrounded our old pal Dennis in the commentary box for the BBC. Now for me the jury is still out on him, OK, he repeats himself endlessly, so much so that sometimes you want to go out and ‘clean up the streets’, granted he makes references that has even 80-plus year old’s reaching for their encyclopedia and bedpan, but he’s kind of carved out a place in the box that weirdly I think would be missed if he wasn’t there.
It’s not often we get to hear the BBC boys and when they are on they do provide endless comic material, not on purpose of course as when they actually try to be funny it generally backfires, God love ’em. But Dennis is a bit like a pair of smelly, rancid, offensive to the nose old slippers that you just can’t bring yourself to let go of, you know you should, you know they are stinking the place out, you know people are staying away from you because of them and you know if you keep them you will die a slow, painful and lonely death after a life of total solitude and self-pity, surrounding by far too many domestic pets (cats and budgies probably) waiting to eat your rotting carcass, but something is stopping you and that something is ‘the comfort angle’.
All that said, I do think our Den needs to brush up on his material a bit, well a lot really. His talk of the ‘Cumberland Gap’ is now beginning to grind a little, well, again a lot really. It’s like he is desperate for someone to enter the arena proudly wearing a ‘What’s Your Favourite Gap?’ T-Shirt accompanied with a picture of a Cumberland Sausage and Lonnie ‘fucking’ Donegan eating it as if this would be some kind of trophy and he could tell JV to go and shove his cue ball where the sun don’t shine. But it will NEVER EVER catch on and he should stop saying it before someone (probably Hendry) loses it for a split second and replies ‘the gap I’m just about to make in your fucking teeth with my fist old man’ (say it in Scottish to add effect).
Anyway, always remember dear readers that slogans on T-Shirts are only for retards and window-lickers who have an excuse and students, who don’t. We should never ever forget that, unless I decide to launch a range of alternative snooker slogan T-shirts and then they will be cool again, even if the minute you’re spotted in one you will be slung out by the increasingly jobsworth gestapo arena stewards at World Snooker and banned for life from all events.
Thanks to everyone who wished the blog a happy 3rd birthday yesterday, it’s incredible that so many of you continue to tune in to humour me and stoke my ego, but despite all my bravado I am genuinely humbled, if still a little puzzled, as to how popular it remains.
That’s my way of saying go and vote for me in the Shorty Awards as I’m in the top ten now by the way. DO IT.
In terms of the betting, the two deciding frame losses yesterday saw a slight turn in fortunes after a 100% strike rate in the first round although the main pick Selby (3 points at 7/1) remains in tact and the winnings from the round one have ensured a positive outcome.
Anyway, now time to turn to the two remaining quarter finals and I’d be very surprised if we saw a decider today…
Graeme Dott v Judd Trump
Head to Head: 2-2. Last Meeting: 2012 Shanghai Masters Quarter Final, Trump won 5-4.
Dotty battled as only he can to beat Stephen Maguire in the first round in what was in truth, an under par performance from them both, particularly Maguire who looked a shade of the player he can be, as so often is the case in the major events with him these days. Judd is another who can count his lucky stars that he’s still in there fighting, Barry Hawkins will still be having nightmares about the chances he had to put Judd out of the event, but he didn’t take them and Judd, like Graeme isn’t a player that you can keep on giving those kind of chances to. I have to say that when Graeme beat Mags my first reaction was ‘whoever he plays next round will hammer him’ but the way this week is going you just never know and Dott is a player that you underestimate at your peril. But for a change I think we might have a match that is a little more one-sided and I think Judd, having had his scare and got over it will prevail, for a scoreline I’d go for 6-2.
Selection: Trump 6-2.
Mark Selby v Mark Williams
Head to Head: 3-4 excluding Premier League. Last Main Ranking Meeting: Shanghai Masters Final 2011, Selby won 10-9.
The comebacks from both these two in Round One should hopefully mean that they will both relax a bit more early on in this and produce a match worthy of two great players. I suspect that there will be people placing very large bets on Selby to win here if they have watched the whole of each of their first round matches. MJW won because he played less poorly than his opponent, Selby won because he produced what frankly I thought was a brilliant comeback and I think he’s a far better player and far nicer to watch when he speeds up a bit and goes for his shots, but scrapping is becoming something of a forte of his and that’s why he’s where he is at the top of the ranking list. These two have had some rare old tussles over the years and in 2011 contested two great finals, one in Berlin which Williams won and the other in Shanghai which Selby did when arguably Williams should have. Realistically, on form there is only one winner here, anything can happen in snooker and MJW may well turn the clock back to that Final in Germany and a lot of me hopes that he does, but I just can’t see him beating Selby.
Selection: Selby 6-3.
Recommended Bet: 2 point double on Trump (-1.5) and Selby (-1.5) pays over 7/4 at Bet 365.
Another reminder as if you need it that the blog partners Apollobet have put an offer on for match bet punters. If a match goes to a deciding frame and your single bet on the winner of the match ducks they will refund your stake in full, anyone who backed Mark Allen or John Higgins with them yesterday will be a little happier today in what is turning out to be a tournament very much defined by deciders
Oh by the way, you can still nominate the blog for an award. Well, you can and you can do it by clicking here and following the instructions, what’s your excuse?
THANKS AGAIN TO MONIQUE LIMBOS FOR THE MAIN PHOTO OF MR SELBY.