Snookerbacker

April 27, 2017

World Championship Semi Final Preview

Filed under: snookerbacker @ 8:17 am

The One Table Situation

It’s time for the famous ‘one table situation’ cliches to kick in as we move to the business end of things at The Crucible with five more days of snooker’s showpiece still to go. Just four of the original 144 remain (Anorak Stat Check: 143 if you remember that Patrick Wallace withdrew) and we have as strong a semi-final line up as I can remember.

I’m going to leave the big preamble and no doubt at some point I’ll refer back to Barry Hearn’s press conference yesterday and what it will mean for the amateur game in the UK and beyond, suffice to say that I’m delighted that he’s decided to give the amateur and grass roots game some long awaited and much needed TLC from 2018 onwards.

Now though to the two matches, the big question is, can anyone stop the defending champion?

Mark Selby v Ding Junhui

Since 12 months ago when these two contested a close final they have met twice more, in two finals over in China sharing the spoils. Ding won 10-6 in Shanghai and ended up in tears and lost in Daqing to a rampant Jester 10-1 and also ended up in tears. But what’s happened since then may explain Ding’s emotional state on both occasions, sadly his mum passed away from cancer at a very young age and I’m sure both matches were played out with that at the forefront of Ding’s mind so I’d discount the hammering in Daqing and instead concentrate on how they are both playing here. I’m sure it would mean everything to Ding to win this and it would be nice if he could blot out the pressures coming from China and just concentrate on what it means to him and those closest to him if he were to achieve his lifelong dream. He has conquered one goal in beating Ronnie but there is still plenty of work to do against a player who seems to be getting better and better as the years go on and is now as close to dominating the sport as anyone has been since Hendry. Selby is in fantastic form and his win over Marco was a virtuoso display from a master at his craft. I’m torn here by wanting Selby to lift a third title and climb into the next echelon of champions who have won it more than twice and my desire to see Ding win it for his mum. But if this place teaches you anything it’s that the better player usually wins over the longer distance and the better player is undoubtedly Selby this week.

Predicted: Selby 17-12.

John Higgins v Barry Hawkins

Such is the nature of snooker these days that these two have only ever met once over anything longer than best of 7, that was here in 2010 when Higgins beat Barry 10-6 in Round One before his famous second round defeat by Steve Davis. Higgins has for the first time since he last won this, brought his best game to The Crucible and like Selby looks to be destined for the final. Barry typically talked down his chances after beating Maguire but his mindset for this match may just help him if he’s going in knowing he is a big underdog. One thing that struck me about the comments after Higgins’ last match was how disappointed Kyren Wilson was in his own performance, he lamented at the number of close frames he lost and the number of chances he let slip so that perhaps tells us that despite thinking Higgins is in top form he is giving opponents rays of hope. Hawkins by his own admission will have to improve in leaps and bounds here to win but there is the possibility that his poor performance is now behind him and Higgins is still yet to bowl in a dodgy session. I think if Barry is to win this he’s going to have to rely on John having a woeful run of frames at some point and him being able to mop up the scraps he’s left. I’d like Barry to win but somehow I just can’t see it happening.

Predicted: Higgins 17-12.

Recommended Bet: Double on Selby to make more than 2 centuries and Higgins (-2.5 frames) pays over 5/2 at Bet 365 – if you fancy this but don’t have an account with them click the banner below to take advantage of a new customer offer. A mad double on the two predicted scores pays 168/1 with the sponsor.

  • Monique

    Whilst I agree that Marl Selby played superbly against Marco Fu – his 143 was a gem of a break – it’s also fair to say that Marco didn’t put him under any sort of pressure and all top players can produce awesome stuff when playing with freedom. If Ding starts strongly, it will be interesting to see how Mark reacts, and what style of play he will adopt. As for John Higgins, I’m not convinced that he is THAT strong. Kyren had countless occasions and didn’t take them. Maybe the tip incident really affected him: he didn’t look confident at all. Barry Hawkins won rather ugly yesterday, and didn’t rate his or Maguire performance high … if he plays the same, he’s got no chance. BUT, if he plays near the level he did in the 2013 final, I definitely fancy him. John Higgins has shown a number of times this season that despite his good form, he’s not as solid under pressure as he used to be, Barry is.

  • Joe Gibney

    The biggest thing that happened yesterday wasn’t on the table, but off the table. The changing rules regarding entry fees, and the introduction of a challenger (second level) tour can only be a positive – got to help find “the next big thing”. I still remember Anthony Hamilton in tears on Eurosport having got to a semi-final, relieved he could pay his family back for an entry fee he had to borrow off them! Hopefully those dark days will come to an end, for which SB and Smurf, even if just through the occasional nagging to the powers that be, should take some credit.
    Alan McManus tipped Higgins, saying practice from him was the best he’s seen for years – that has proven to be true. A Ding semi-final win could see China’s viewing figures (a quarter of a billion!) smashed up for the final.

Powered by WordPress

Website transfer complete