December 9, 2017

UK Championship: Semi Final Saturday

Filed under: snookerbacker @ 7:56 am

The BBC deal is far from a shambles

So here we have it, we’re down to the infamous ‘one table situation’ in York as the final four players contest the best of eleven frames semi finals today after what has been a very entertaining championship.

Barry Hearn turned up at the venue yesterday and when he makes an appearance on your screens it’s usually because he’s got something to announce and yesterday was no exception. This time he was there to reaffirm the BBC’s commitment to showing snooker in the afternoons, unless of course there is some posh boys rugby on or it clashes with a particularly important episode of Flog It. They have further committed to putting it on the red button in the evenings for the next 5 years unless there is something better on at the same time. The Beeb will continue to cover one table at the big three events, namely this, The Masters and the World Championship.

It’s not been confirmed yet whether Dennis Taylor comes as part of the overall deal. Tense negotiations are ongoing and dwarf anything that’s been done so far on Brexit, which let’s face it wouldn’t be difficult. Dennis is asked to sit outside and talk about golf and Patsy Fagan with passers-by while the grown ups make a decision. It’s thought that the deal is worth millions but as ever Bazza is trying to get it on the cheap and pleading with the BBC to include Dennis to bring the price down. More news when I have it.

Anyway, enough of my gossip, here’s what we have to look forward to today, including a mouth watering match this afternoon, click on the match for the head to head stats.

1pm – Ronnie O’Sullivan v Stephen Maguire

Rumour has it that Martin Gould spent most of his pre-match time yesterday carelessly lounging around the venue while Ronnie played on the practice table for a couple of hours. This certainly told as O’Sullivan basically got the match won in the first half an hour before Gould could find anything like his touch. The gifts he handed Ronnie early on wouldn’t have looked out of place under the tree on Christmas Day and the grateful Rocket lapped them up. Whether a better prepared player might have given him a sterner test remains to be seen and possibly will be seen today. Maguire is in fine fettle coming into this and presents Ronnie with possibly his first real test of the championship. As you’d expect, the head to heads strongly favour O’Sullivan, but they have only faced each other twice in anything meaningful in the last 5 years, with one win apiece. I’ve had a feeling all week that at some point Ronnie will come unstuck, but all too often players just seem to melt when they come face to face with him, I don’t think Maguire will, but this has allowed Ronald to build up a head of steam and perhaps now we’ll see him at his very best. I think he’ll shade it, but I think Maguire will push him harder than anyone has all week. Let’s face it, if he’d have caught him in the form he was in against Akani he’d have beaten him, but now there is another win under his belt he faces a more focused animal. Remember in an interesting sub-plot, Maguire is playing this match to nick Liang Wenbo’s Masters slot, with the rest of the field now decided.

Predicted: O’Sullivan 6-4 

7pm – Shaun Murphy v Ryan Day 

Christmas at SB Towers will be upgraded if Murphy can carry off the 25/1 recommended bet this weekend but first he has to contend with snooker’s new deciding frame specialist Ryan Day, who has now finally done enough to be playing at The Masters after Christmas and you have to say deservedly so. Murphy walloped Mark King in the last round and has looked pretty good since his very lucky escape against Liam Highfield earlier on in the tournament. The draw has fallen nicely for him with Higgins and Selby going out early and now just Day stands in the way of him and another grand slam final. Their head to heads tell us very little as the vast majority of them have been in lowly events so we just have to take this one on form coming into it. Day has had three deciders on the spin now and has come through them all so the last thing Shaun will want is this to go close. Perhaps now that The Masters race is run Day will relax a little, but this is still a huge match for him, possibly you might argue the biggest of his long career and it remains to be seen if he’ll rise to the occasion. My guess is that this will be one of those matches where Shaun imposes himself from the start and keeps distance between them, so I’ll take The Magician to pull another winning performance out of the hat and land the each way spoils.

Predicted: Murphy 6-3  

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