May 3, 2013

The Semi-Finals Continue

Filed under: snookerbacker @ 8:19 am
The Boys are Back in Town.

The Boys are Back in Town.

It’s day two of the semi-finals today and a cracking day ahead which sees Judd and Ronnie slug it out this morning and this evening. Will we be any closer to knowing the winner later tonight?

I will admit that when Ronnie went 4-1 up I was fearing the worst for Trump who was beginning to look a bit jaded in his seat, but all credit to him for fighting back and they start the day level at 4-4. Ronnie has still not been behind in a match in this championship and has also won the first frame of every session he has played in, I wonder if that pattern will continue today?

In the other match Ricky Walden has started much the better of the two and leads Barry Hawkins 6-2 after the first session. There is a long way to go of course but Barry could do with winning the session this afternoon to finish the day no worse than 9-7 down, which wouldn’t be a disaster going into the concluding day of the semi-finals tomorrow, we shall see.

There has been a lot of talk about the overall standard of play in this event and for me it goes without saying that this has been one of the poorest World Championships that I can think of on that front. There have been some very good performances, Walden and Michael White in Round 1 spring to mind, Ding and Shaun Murphy showed flashes of quality and Ronnie and Judd have done the same, Ronnie’s first session display against Stuart Bingham for me being the stand out session of the championship, but otherwise I’d say it’s been pretty mediocre overall.

So why is that? Well, the new phrase that pays amongst the potters is ‘burn out’, with Neil Robertson, Mark Selby and others saying that they are simply too tired to perform over this end of season marathon after a long hard season in every corner of the globe. Now I’m not saying that burn out doesn’t exist but if you look at the calendar from last season there were breaks for players, particularly if they weren’t winning much or decided not to play in all the PTC events.

For John Higgins to claim he was tired is a bit hard to swallow, he started the season late and missed the first few events instead deciding to have a longer summer break and since winning the Shanghai Masters in September he’s only won 6 matches in the main events. Perhaps if he’d stuck to ranking events instead of chasing the cash merry-go-round of the non-ranking Championship League which for me is now surplus to requirements on the calendar he’d have faired better here. Or perhaps, just perhaps, he’s just not playing very well or not practicing as hard as he used to?

Higgins is just an example of course, but he also didn’t have to play in qualifiers which dominate some months in the calendar and you don’t tend to hear the players from the lower ranks moaning about burn out as they are usually too busy mustering up the cash to pay their hotel bills and living expenses on the miserly prize money floating around at the lower levels which to me is a much greater concern than a few of the top boys complaining about being knackered. Even Ronnie is claiming to be tired and that really takes the piss as he’s been by his own admission festering in bed until midday for half the year and basically living like a doleite.

Stuart Bingham and Dark Mavis are good examples of top players who play in everything but don’t come out the other end moaning and it shows in their results which continue to improve, qualifying regular Michael Holt who has played in everything this season including the Asian PTC’s has said that burn out isn’t an issue for him as he keeps himself fit.

As fit as a fiddle: You never heard Bill complain of feeling tired.

As fit as a fiddle: You never heard Bill complain of feeling tired.

In the old days when a player didn’t perform on the big stage it was put down to pressure. The 1980’s saw loads of events on the TV, far more on the mainstream channels than we have now and the players seemed to thoroughly embrace it. I think that both Selby and Robertson felt a weight of expectation, some of which was possibly coming from themselves to make an impact here, same with Ding, though he also has the ridiculous and unrealistic level of expectation from China on his shoulders too.

Those who claim not to look at the draw are invariably lying and they all must have seen what a great chance they had to make it to at least the semi-finals and when it all opened up for them they simply couldn’t hack it and this was the most convenient excuse rather than they blew it.

So, I’m firmly with Bazza on this one, if some of the players are burnt out as a result of actually having a job which let’s face it isn’t even a full-time one then they probably need to have a good think about why that is, is it more a state of mind than a physical problem? I think it probably is.

Perhaps another factor is that the standard of the top players of today is simply not as high as it has been previously. I think anyone who claims that any of today’s top 4 or 5 could live with Hendry, Higgins, Williams and O’Sullivan at their peak or even dare I say it Steve Davis at his, might need to reassess their views on snooker and their life in general. The fact that O’Sullivan is still the best player out there and that Higgins and Williams are still in the top 16 bears this out, even the Nugget is moving up the ranking list and he’s about 3 million years old.

So that’s my rant for the day on that particular issue. Tomorrow I shall tackle the problem of third world poverty and perhaps touch on the miss rule.

It’s probably fairly obvious that I’m just killing time until 10am when the possible match of the championship recommences. For the first time yesterday I actually thought that Ronnie might not win this, in terms of the bank balance I hope I’m wrong. Can Judd ruin the snooker comeback of all time?

Feel free to post your views on anything in this post in the comments section, especially if you are killing time too, ranting is good for you and it won’t give you burn out.

Ronnie O’Sullivan 4-4 Judd Trump (finished 9-7)

Ricky Walden 6-2 Barry Hawkins (finished 9-7)

Ronnie O’Sullivan 9-7 Judd Trump   

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