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SHANGHAI MASTERS Sept 8 - 14, 2014

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  • SHANGHAI MASTERS Sept 8 - 14, 2014

    I am looking forward to seeing some great
    snooker from the likes of Ding, Robertson,
    Trump, O'Sullivan and the rest of the many
    talented players.
    Matches start at 2:30pm and 7:30pm Local
    time and are a best of 9.

  • #2
    Ah yes, I was just thinking about this tournament, the first major ranking event after a break of two months...

    The Shanghai Masters is one of the few events still played under the old format, so there are only 32 players here, including all of the top16 except Ali Carter. I personally prefer this format, and it's much easier to go through the draw as well. There are also eight wildcards, more than in any other event these days. Some are completely unknown to me, but a couple of them have played well in these events before, so they shouldn't be underestimated.

    This event has seen a few surprising winners in the past, as well as quite a few surprising finalists. It's not the opening event of the season anymore, so things should be a bit more predictable, but it is still fairly early in the season, so maybe not too predictable. It's tough to say what kind of form the players are in, as there wasn't much snooker played recently, just a couple of minor events...

    Let's see what the draw looks like...

    Quarter 1:

    Ding Junhui v. Jack Lisowski
    Joe Perry v. Martin Gould
    Graeme Dott v. Liang Wenbo/Yan Bingtao
    Shaun Murphy v. Joe Swail

    Quite a strong quarter to start with. Ding Junhui was the king of major ranking events last season, winning more in a single season than anyone else in the last two decades, including of course this event. He was still in good form in the penultimate event of the season, but then struggled in the World Championship and ended the season on a low note. This season he played a weird match in the Wuxi Classic qualifiers and lost 5-0, then decided to skip the Australian Open and both PTCs in August, so we haven't seen much of him. He did win the Chinese PTC in June though. Of all the top players I think Ding is the biggest mystery here. If he comes well prepared he could be the tournament favourite, having won three of the last five major Chinese events, but he could also show little form and go out early. Interesting 1st round match against Jack Lisowski here, a very popular player who is probably seen by most as a tough draw, but an objective look at his results shows him to be pretty unimpressive. His run to the quarter-finals of the 2013 China Open is still his only notable result, a year and a half later. He was beaten comfortably by the talented (but inexperienced) Zhao Xintong in Wuxi, whitewashed by Murphy in Australia, and he lost early in both PTCs last month as well. I think Ding and Lisowski have never met in a major match before, so it will be interesting to see how it goes. Both players have something to prove I think... Joe Perry is also a big name in this part of the draw, very consistent in recent times, and a common presence at the business end of major tournaments. Shanghai was actually one of the very few tournaments last season where he didn't progress through the early rounds. This season has started even better for him, with his first-ever ranking final in Wuxi, where he had chances to win it, but ultimately lost 10-9 to Robertson. He beat Martin Gould 6-4 in the semi-finals, in what was one of the biggest matches of both players' careers. Even though Gould lost it, it was still his best-ever result in a major tournament (obviously not counting the PTC Finals here), so his confidence should be pretty good at the moment, especially considering he was nowhere near that kind of form last season. Looking at the potential last16 match here, Ding against Perry would probably be the most interesting, as they played three times in the major events last season. Perry played great stuff to beat Ding 5-1 in Wuxi, but Ding won their biggest one, 6-4 in the semi-finals of the Welsh Open, and he generally has a very good record over Perry.

    Another couple of interesting players in this quarter, starting with Shaun Murphy, who had a pretty unusual last season for him. His win in the World Open was his first major title in more than five years, but he only reached one ranking quarter-final apart from that, in the World Championship, so one could say it was his least consistent season since becoming World champion. This season has started alright for him, with a quarter-final in Wuxi, although he did have quite an easy draw to reach that stage, and he should have beaten Robertson as well, but he missed a sitter in the decider when he only needed a couple of balls. Unfortunately that kind of thing has become all too common for Murphy in the last couple of seasons. His biggest obstacle here should be Graeme Dott, who played his best snooker in China last season, reaching a semi-final and two quarter-finals here. He beat Liang Wenbo in the quarter-finals of the International Championship, in what was the best tournament of the season for both players, and their match here could be one of the most interesting of the 1st round. Liang is of course a former finalist of this event, back in 2009, and he has been slowly getting back to form, winning at least a couple of matches in most tournaments last season. He also played well to beat Selby in Wuxi this season, but lost to Perry in the following round. He has a pretty good record over Murphy as well, he beat him in the semi-finals of this tournament in 2009, and also in the early rounds of the Welsh Open last season. On the other hand, Dott has a very poor record against Murphy, most recently losing to him in the quarter-finals of the World Open last season, when Murphy fluked the final black in the decider. The other two players here are underdogs, but shouldn't be underestimated. Joe Swail had a great win over Peter Ebdon in the qualifiers, 5-1, while Yan Bingtao impressed as a wildcard in Wuxi, beating Yu Delu and Barry Pinches, before only losing 5-4 to Hawkins. Not bad for a 14-year-old, is it?

    Quarter 2:

    Judd Trump v. Dominic Dale
    Stuart Bingham v. Li Hang/Chen Zifan
    Stephen Maguire v. Jimmy Robertson
    Ronnie O'Sullivan v. Alan McManus

    This tiered format usually guarantees a pretty balanced draw, so it's not surprising the second quarter features a couple of title contenders as well. Judd Trump has been one of the best players of the season so far. He was by far the best player in Australia, where he captured his first major title in quite a while, and he followed it with good runs in both PTCs in August, the quarter-finals in Riga and the final in the Paul Hunter Classic in Fürth. His recent performances in the Chinese events have been less impressive though. He had a little purple patch in 2012, when he reached the final in Shanghai and won the International Championship, but since then he has failed to reach the quarter-finals of seven events in a row now. He was looking good for a while in Wuxi a couple of months ago, but was whitewashed by Maguire in the end. Can he turn his record in China around again? I wouldn't be surprised if he did, because he has looked quite confident and motivated so far this season. Dominic Dale has never beaten Trump, so he is up against it here, but I wouldn't rule him out. He won the first Shanghai Masters in 2007, playing some of the best snooker of his career, so maybe he can find some inspiration again here. He reached the quarter-finals of the WC at the end of last season, but he hasn't really followed it up with any good results this season, although he did have three centuries against Michael Wasley in the qualifiers for this event, so his form can't be too bad. Stuart Bingham usually starts seasons pretty well, and although he hasn't really been close to winning a title this time, it took good players to take him out of tournaments, Fu in the last16 in Wuxi and Mark Davis in the quarter-finals in Australia. He has played Trump quite a few times in recent seasons, but never late in a tournament, and they could meet in another last16 match here. I would make Trump the favourite on current form though. The two Chinese players here are not expected to do much, but Li Hang at least is quite a familiar name, having played well on TV before, including in last season's UK Championship.

    Ronnie O'Sullivan is also here, making his debut in a major tournament this season. He too is a former winner of this event, back in 2009, and that remains his only title in China in the reasonably recent past. He skips a lot of events these days, particularly the Chinese ones, so it's a little surprising he has entered this one. But the thing with him is, he has still won more titles than anyone apart from Ding last season, and he is not entering events just to lose in the 1st round anymore (well, except maybe the German Masters. ). We have only seen him in the Paul Hunter Classic this season, where he lost in the last16 to Tian Pengfei. I think he has shown over the last couple of seasons that he is always a title contender, even when he is not coming to events on the back of any great form. Amazingly, he hasn't played Alan McManus in ten years... McManus is the underdog here, but it wouldn't be a huge surprise if he went through. He was a quarter-finalist in the World Open and the WC last season, and while he hasn't really had a great run this season yet, he has lost only to the top players in all events, including the PTCs. It will also be interesting to see how Stephen Maguire plays here. He was mediocre for most of last season, and I think that was why he entered both summer events this time. He played well in Wuxi, with no rage or other over-the-top reactions, but it still wasn't enough to get past the quarter-finals, where he lost to Gould in a high-quality match, on the final black in the decider. Unfortunately Maguire could not carry his determination and discipline into the next tournament, and was whitewashed by Jamie Jones in the 1st round. I think it's clear at this point that he isn't going to change much, so it's unlikely for him to reach any great level of consistency. And it's always hard to win matches and tournaments if every setback completely destroys your game and your mental state. His match against O'Sullivan in the Masters last season is a perfect example, he started very strongly, but fell apart at the first sign of good form from O'Sullivan. He has beaten O'Sullivan in major matches in the past, but he has lost a lot more than he has won so, in my opinion, O'Sullivan's presence in this quarter makes Maguire a big underdog. Jimmy Robertson is an even bigger underdog, but it's worth mentioning that he beat Xiao Guodong in the final qualifying round for this tournament, Xiao of course the runner-up in this event last season and a semi-finalist in Australia a couple of months ago.

    Quarter 3:

    Neil Robertson v. Michael White/Niu Zhuang
    John Higgins v. Ryan Day/Xu Si
    Mark Allen v. Andrew Higginson
    Barry Hawkins v. Mark Williams/Zhang Yong

    Neil Robertson is the man to beat in a very strong third quarter. He has made an identical start to last season, by winning the Wuxi Classic and reaching the final of his home event in Australia. He has also developed into a very strong performer in China, his record second only to Ding's in recent times, and he has managed to win a major Chinese ranking event in each of the last three seasons (including this one). He seems to progress through tournaments even when his form is not all that great these days, or even when he is not feeling well physically, like in his run to the final of the China Open last season. I think it will take someone playing really well to knock him out here, but of course this quarter has a few great players... John Higgins should never be underestimated. He is not usually associated with the Chinese tournaments, in terms of that being his speciality or anything like that, but perhaps he should be, because six of his last seven major ranking quarter-finals have come in China. If he played Robertson in the last16 here it would be a repeat of last year's Wuxi Classic final, and the word "classic" is quite appropriate when describing most of their previous matches, so I kind of hope they do meet. Unfortunately Higgins hasn't really looked like a tournament winner since that final, failing to reach the semi-finals of any major tournament. Ryan Day is better in that respect, having reached the semi-finals of the German Masters last season, and he played well in China in the International Championship as well. I am not sure if he has the form to come through here, but his run to the last16 in Wuxi is not a bad sign I suppose. He is also a former finalist of this event, back in 2007, when he had a great position at one point in the final, leading 6-2 after the first session, if I remember correctly. He has beaten Higgins on the big stage before, including in the WC, so he won't be afraid of him, and if this is anything like their Grand Prix final in 2008 it should be one of the best 1st round matches.

    Mark Allen is one of the in-form players at the moment, the runner-up in Riga and the winner in Fürth, but I'm sure he would prefer to do better in the major events. He struggled for most of last season, and opened this season with a 1st round defeat in Australia as well. Both of his ranking titles so far have come in China, both in Haikou in fact, so hopefully he can find some inspiration in Shanghai this time and take advantage of his recent good form. Barry Hawkins is the highest-ranked player in this section of the draw, and arguably the favourite as well. He looked great for most of the week in Wuxi, but couldn't quite match Robertson in the semi-finals. He reached another semi-final in Riga, and was a semi-finalist in this tournament last season, but this time his draw is as tough as it gets. He has a poor record against Allen, but his immediate attention will be on Mark Williams, the former king of Chinese events. Williams was pretty poor last season, for the first time in ages not reaching a single major quarter-final. I don't think there is much chance we will see any great consistency from him again, but I wouldn't rule out some isolated good runs here and there, and China seems like a good place for that, for a player who has won six major ranking events in Asia in the past. It's interesting that he has never played Hawkins in any match of decent length, but he has a great record over him in the short-format stuff. There is more history between Allen and Williams, with Allen winning their most recent big match in the World Open last season, but Williams winning their biggest one to date, the quarter-final of the 2011 WC, with a very comfortable 13-5 scoreline.

    Quarter 4:

    Marco Fu v. Matthew Selt/Zhao Xintong
    Robert Milkins v. Fergal O'Brien
    Ricky Walden v. Michael Holt/Yuan Sijun
    Mark Selby v. Ken Doherty/Huang Jiahao

    And we conclude with another interesting quarter, featuring a couple of possible winners of this tournament. Marco Fu is the 8th seed here, and I think most people would agree he is comfortably among the eight best players in the world at this point in time. Last season he played his best and most consistent snooker ever, the highlight being his win in the Australian Open, which he surprisingly decided not to defend this year. He did play in Wuxi though, where he was beaten by Hawkins in the quarter-finals, and Hawkins also beat him at the same stage in Riga. It seems that Fu's habit of playing really bad tournaments quite frequently is mostly gone, so he should be the favourite to reach the quarter-finals here. It's tough to say which of his potential 1st round opponents is more dangerous. Matthew Selt had a good win over Murphy in Riga, and also beat Mark Davis in the qualifiers for this event. On the other hand, Zhao Xintong is a proven performer in these events now, with several wins against the professional players. He won three matches to reach the last16 in Wuxi, including a comfortable win over Lisowski, but his inexperience showed against Murphy, where he made some bad mistakes to throw frames away. He also reached the last16 of the International Championship last season, thrashing Hawkins on his way, and it was Fu who ended his run on that occasion. Fu also stopped Robert Milkins from reaching his first-ever ranking final in Australia last season, beating him 6-4 in the semi-finals. This season has started pretty well for Milkins again, with another quarter-final in Australia, where he was beaten by Robertson this time, and runs to the last16 of both PTCs in August (again beaten by Fu in Riga). Fergal O'Brien hasn't reached the business end of any major tournament in a long time, but this is the kind of section where anything could happen, and he has a very recent win over Fu from Fürth.

    I expected Mark Selby to maybe take his foot off the gas for a while after winning the World title, and he did lose early in Wuxi and skipped Australia, but the summer is over now... He was back to his usual stuff in Riga, where he came from 3-0 down in the final to capture the title. This is a player who reached at least the quarter-finals of eight out of the ten tournaments with matches of at least medium length last season, but most people still agreed that he wasn't playing anywhere near his best, which just shows how tough he is to beat. He played some of his best snooker in the WC, particularly against Carter and Robertson, but he won the final without much fluency for the most part. It doesn't really matter what way or how well he plays, there is always a strong chance he will find a way to win, so I'm sure no one will be surprised if he prevails in this quarter. His first obstacle could be Ken Doherty, who beat him the last time they met in a big match, in the quarter-finals of the 2011 Australian Open. Unfortunately Doherty hasn't really featured much in the latter rounds of tournament since then, and there is not much to suggest he could be a danger here, especially as he didn't play any snooker at all in August, apart from the Shanghai qualifiers obviously. Ricky Walden is the other seeded player here, the winner of this event in 2008, beating O'Sullivan in the final and Selby in the semi-finals. He has already shown some form this season, most notably by reaching the quarter-finals of the Australian Open, where he came the closest to beating Trump, only losing in a deciding frame. He also reached the semi-finals of the Paul Hunter Classic last month, again beating Selby along the way. Walden and Selby have met quite a lot in recent years, and apart from the matches I already mentioned, their UK Championship semi-final last season stands out, with Selby winning 9-5 on that occasion. Michael Holt also deserves to be mentioned here. He reached the semi-finals of this event last season, his best result in a major ranking tournament so far. This season has seen him reach a PTC final in Yixing, as well as the last16 in Wuxi, where he was beaten by Robertson. I don't think Walden is his favourite opponent though, he had that nightmare against him in the 1st round at the Crucible last year, losing 10-1. But maybe this is a chance to put things right...

    Possible quarter-final lineup:

    Ding Junhui v. Shaun Murphy
    Judd Trump v. Ronnie O'Sullivan
    Neil Robertson v. Mark Allen
    Marco Fu v. Mark Selby

    There we are... A full week of early-morning snooker. It should be a good tournament, and I hope to watch as much as I can.


    • #3
      Great write up again Odrl. Wonder which Ronnie will turn up this week.


      • #4
        Another fascinating tournament preview I am ready too.


        • #5
          Thanks for the reminder robertmac and a great write up Odrl.


          • #6
            and I notice Eurosport has live coverage for the whole event!
            I mean Saturday and Sunday as well!

            there must not be any equestrian/cycling/motorbike/tennis/badminton going on anywhere in the world -
            Up the TSF!


            • #7
              Originally posted by DeanH View Post
              and I notice Eurosport has live coverage for the whole event!
              I mean Saturday and Sunday as well!

              there must not be any equestrian/cycling/motorbike/tennis/badminton going on anywhere in the world -
              Well, the Vuelta is on for another week, but it only takes up the late afternoon slot.


              • #8
                Well, it starts tomorrow and we haven't had any news..I suppose Ronnie must actually be attending!


                • #9
                  on WS site there is a photo of ROS signing autographs at the opening ceremony, so I would say he is there

                  Up the TSF!


                  • #10
                    My Prediction is DingJunHui will win Shanghai or at least be the Finalist.
                    My nick name for him for this Tourney is : The Terminator!

                    I am really Fascinated to see what DingJunHui Brings to the table. Been practicing Kung Fu fightinhg past few months, while in 'hiding'.
                    "I don't hate people, I just feel better when they're not around."

                    Success With Style : Muhammed Ali, Bjorn Borg, Magic Johnson, Mats Wilander, Michael Jackson, Stefan Edberg.


                    • #11
                      I got Trump at 10-1 Robertson 13-2 and an outside flutter on Barry Hawkins at 28-1

                      Makes it more fun to watch.


                      • #12
                        Thanks odrl for your excellent analysis of
                        the tournament.

                        I would agree with your quarter final selections as
                        'on paper' it looks very possible. However it turns
                        out it should be a great tournament.


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Odrl View Post
                          terrific write up! thanks Odrl!
                          Originally posted by DeanH View Post

                          there must not be any equestrian/cycling/motorbike/tennis/badminton going on anywhere in the world -


                          • #14
                            Does anyone else think the cushions in the Murphy/Swail match are making a weird thud? It reminds me of the pool table with dead cushions down the local.
                            After 15 reds and 15 blacks i did this


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by scottley View Post
                              Does anyone else think the cushions in the Murphy/Swail match are making a weird thud? It reminds me of the pool table with dead cushions down the local.
                              I am not watching at the mo (recording for later) but one think I recall from Chinese events is that the sound pickup is often terrible (colour can be off too) so it may just be that, ?
                              Up the TSF!