January 21, 2017

The Masters Semi Finals

Filed under: snookerbacker @ 10:40 am

The Business End

We’ve reached the business end of things at Ally Pally with Ronnie O’Sullivan, Marco Fu, Barry Hawkins and Joe Perry still left in it, perhaps not the four names people might have expected to still be battling away this weekend.

I don’t know about you but I’m sensing a bit of a shift in the pecking order these days, obviously Selby is still, despite his performance yesterday, the man they all have to catch but in the past it’s been more or less established that Robbo, Ding, Judd, Ronnie, Murphy and Higgins are generally the next in line on people’s ‘best player’ list, followed by a whole bunch of them including Bingham, Carter, Fu, Hawkins and similar names.

But I think we are seeing that established order smashed into by both Hawkins and Fu, who now for me can justifiably claim to be solid top 6 players, I’m not just saying that based on this tournament, I have been thinking for a while that the two of them are probably higher up than their ranking might suggest.

Anyway, enough of my inane rambling, let’s get to the matches, starting with this afternoon’s between Ronnie and Marco

Ronnie O’Sullivan v Marco Fu

It’s fair to say that Ronnie has pretty much bossed the head to heads between these two for the past few years, the old version of Ronald used to struggle a bit to cope with Marco, but since the new improved version has kicked in he seems to have his measure, demonstrated most recently in York with a semi-final deciding frame win the UK in December. Ronnie has also beaten Marco 6-1 here so is there any hope of a turnaround here? Well, speaking bluntly, yes there is. Marco has been the player of the tournament so far and is now on a huge winning streak given his success in Scotland before Christmas, his huge watch has been set to ‘lampshade mode’ now for weeks and if he gets the settings right today I think he’s got a pretty good chance of winning. Ronnie has not been anywhere near his best and has benefited from Liang’s carelessness and Robbo’s lack of form to get here. I don’t think I’ll be alone in backing Marco today, at 7/4 I’d say that’s a value bet.

Prediction: Fu 6-3 

Barry Hawkins v Joe Perry

It’s an old pals act tonight as these two line up for a place in the final. Barry (or Basil) has the edge in the head to heads over Perry (or Pele) but there isn’t much in it so I’d say you can just disregard this and look at this based simply on their form coming into this. Joe flattened an already flat Ding Junhui last night and will be delighted to be here given that he wasn’t expecting anything of himself this week. Barry meanwhile played some very solid stuff against Mark Selby and will be looking to make it two finals in two years, possibly against the same opponent. I’ve been guilty in the past of under-rating Hawkins, I’ve just never really seen him as a really top player but I have now changed my mind, I think he’ll be pretty tough to beat here so I’m going to take him to be lining up for another crack at the trophy on Sunday.

Prediction: Hawkins 6-3

Recommended Bet: Singles on Marco Fu (-1.5 frames) at 11/4. Barry Hawkins (-1.5 frames) at Evens. A double on the two.

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