January 14, 2015

Masters Day 4

Filed under: snookerbacker @ 9:42 am
The Captain returned with a bang.

The Captain returned with a bang.

Wednesday sees the conclusion of the first round at the Masters as John Higgins takes on Mark Allen this afternoon with Ding Junhui facing Joe Perry tonight.

Yesterday saw history very nearly being made by, who else? Ronnie. Two centuries, which should really have been three, means he is now equal with Stephen Hendry in all-time tons and only needs one more to become King of the Centuries.

The second century which wrapped up his 6-4 win over Ricky Walden was a sight to behold, a fluked yellow almost causing cardiac arrest for poor old JV, who bellowed at the top of his voice, struggling to be heard above the noise being made by the crowd who were busy going beserk. His ‘Happy Birthday Stephen’ when the ton was confirmed being a particularly underhand dig at poor old Hendo, who was busy squeezing drawing pins in his hands while smiling through the pain just a few feet away.

Ron was typically understated afterwards and said “I’ve been thinking about the record since I got within striking distance and I’m glad I’ve equalled it now, I doubt Stephen is that bothered”. Well he wasn’t until JV twisted the knife.

JV was also on hand in the mid-session interval for an interview with Jimmy White, who, in case you have been holidaying on Jupiter for the last 6 months, has a book out. The Whirlwind nattered away about this and that with his old pal even doing a very strange impression of him at the end of the interview. He again claimed that he still thinks he can win the World Championship, he didn’t even notice the pig flying past the window when he said it and he remains on course to surprise the nation. Good luck with that.

Last night saw an emotional return for Ali Carter and he looked in superb form to wallop Barry Hawkins 6-1. The worry for a lot of us was that the occasion might get to him a bit, but he was having none of it and impressed probably more than any player so far with a very solid display including a 130 break of top drawer quality.

For a bloke that only a few short months ago was facing the biggest challenge of them all he looked fighting fit and well up for the less serious challenge of the week ahead. You know what? He might just go and win it with his new more carefree outlook.

He said afterwards “The reception I got was awesome, it was as if the crowd had been with me the whole time and been through the dark days with me. To be out there in the arena reminded me that I am one of the best players in the world. I’ve been to hell and back over the past 18 months but I hope tonight I’ve turned the corner. It hasn’t been pleasant, but I’ve got through it.”

Who could possibly begrudge him a Masters title?

Today will be an interesting one and in particular I have been looking forward to this afternoon’s match. There are an increasing number of people who are now writing off John Higgins as a major title challenger and I have doubts myself whether we’ll ever see him lifting a major trophy again. But there is part of me that can’t imagine him not winning something before he’s done, perhaps today we’ll see for certain whether he’s still got the drive and the game to stay at the top.

You can read my thoughts on these two matches in the main preview here. The Quarter Final preview will be up tomorrow morning.


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