A feast of snooker yesterday saw Ronnie O’Sullivan and Joe Perry come out winners resulting in them locking horns in today’s Masters final, yesterday was as good a day of snooker as you could wish for with both semi-finals tipped on a couple of shots, so much so that it could easily have been the two defeated players lining up today.
The afternoon match centred around tip talk, snooker is very odd in that respect, Ronnie decides that he doesn’t like his tip when he’s 2-1 down to some sensational stuff from Marco and so he asks for the interval to be brought forward, which of course they agree to because he’s who he is and the rest of the match on the BBC at least is spent talking excitedly about his tip. I mean can you imagine such animation if a golfer changed his driver, a darter changed his flights or a footballer changed his boots? And who says snooker is for geeks?
Debate will no doubt continue as to whether he should have been allowed to do this, particularly as the tip was not damaged, but JP in particular was flabbergasted that Ronnie could so much as function above dribbling mess mode after this epic transformation which I found a little over the top, as did Ronnie who when quizzed on how he could produce such a superlative display after this crushing blow merely said ‘it’s because I’m quite good John’, well nobody can argue with that.
After his elated BBC interview where he claimed he was a ‘very lucky boy’, the Jekyll and Hyde of snooker went over to the more blokey den of Eurosport and decided to let rip on the referee, Malta’s Terry Camilleri, you know, the one who let him leave the arena even though his tip wasn’t damaged? Yes, him. Well apparently he’s ‘not good enough to be refereeing a major semi-final’ and ‘makes too many mistakes’, I’m sure Marco would agree with the latter given that he shouldn’t have allowed Ronnie to dictate when the interval was because he didn’t think he was going to win.
But the referee wasn’t the only one in the unshaven Rocket’s firing line as he also decided that one of the photographers behind the scenes was ‘a fucking nightmare’ saying as such to his face (fine in the post no doubt). According to Ronnie the hapless snapper or ‘dude’ as he preferred to refer to him ‘needs to learn the etiquette of the game’ and ‘needs to keep still until the shot is over’, this from the same man who frequently says he wants snooker crowds to be more like the darts…presumably waiting until he’s played his shot to dress up as a chicken, drink 35 pints of lager and spew up within touching distance.
I’ve often wondered why they really need a photographer constantly taking pictures at the snooker. Almost all the time the photo’s are pretty mundane, standard fayre of a player playing a shot. I mean there are only so many times you can take a photo of someone playing snooker before it becomes pretty dull. You might get the odd facial expression here and there but overall do they really need to be there for the whole match? Particularly if they don’t have a suitable booth from which to snap away like they do at The Crucible, which clearly they don’t have here.
Anyway, once Ronnie had produced the goods against Marco the stage was set for good mates Joe and Barry. Joe producing the mother of all fightbacks from 2-5 down needing a snooker and much to the wrath of over £63,000 worth of punter’s bunce from the 1.01 backers on Betfair; another crowd of people I will never really understand.
Barry has form in clutching defeat from the jaws of victory and we can only hope that this latest one won’t scar him too much. He is a pretty laid back character but last night has to hurt given that he was more or less into the final earlier on in the evening. But it was a great performance from Joe and he’ll be over the moon with his performances this week and deserves his place in the final.
Joe hasn’t beaten Ronnie for 8 years and the head to head record is heavily weighted in favour of The Rocket. They had a memorable tussle at The Crucible in 2014 which Ronnie came through 13-11 on his way to the final but their two meetings since have been pretty one-sided affairs.
So who wins today? Well, though Joe I’m sure will be dangerous given that he is probably just delighted to be here, Ronnie has a tip he’s happy with, he’s clearly now getting back to his best and he’s got a commanding head to head lead so you have to suspect that the form book will hold up. I’ll go for a 10-5 victory for Ronnie (Best Price 13/2) in front of his adoring supporters, some of whom belong in a zoo in my opinion along with the ‘get in the hole’ golf tossers and those who dress up as chickens and the like at the darts.
Enjoy the final, it’s been a cracking week and following this and some qualifiers in Preston we are off to Berlin for the German Masters, another highlight on the calendar. If you’re a BBC only watcher but have enjoyed the week, why not give that a go on Eurosport from 1st February, it’s a great event and very well attended.