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World Open 2013 - Discussion

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  • World Open 2013 - Discussion

    It's time for another snooker week, ladies and gentlemen... Proper snooker, matches of medium length, major ranking points available, and some early-morning fun all week. You can't ask for much more than that.

    It was a weird tournament last season, with a bunch of complaints about the table being slow, and of course we had that annoying creaking floor. Hopefully they've fixed it.

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

    Quarter 1:

    Mark Allen v. Ryan Day
    Mark Davis v. Robert Milkins
    Ricky Walden v. Peter Ebdon
    Stephen Maguire v. Marcus Campbell

    A very strong quarter, with eight competent players, all capable of having a good run in this tournament. And perhaps even more importantly, they all have a history of playing well in China. Mark Allen is the defending champion, having won his first and only ranking title here last year, in spite of all the controversy with him and China. He faces a tricky 1st round opponent in Ryan Day, himself a former finalist in the Shanghai Masters. Even though Day is not present at the business end of tournaments much anymore, or even at venues, he is still a danger to anyone, as his two big wins over Ding Junhui in 2012 prove. He didn't show much at the Welsh Open though, losing heavily to Liang Wenbo, although to be fair, Liang did play well in that match. Mark Davis returns as a top16 seed, having missed the German Masters and the Welsh Open, losing before the venue stage. Surely he must be second favourite to a very solid Robert Milkins, who produced an excellent display at the Welsh Open. Milkins of course reached the semi-finals of this event last year, which equaled his best-ever performance in a ranking event. Davis has himself reached a couple of semi-finals this season, including the Wuxi Classic. Going back to Mark Allen, he is still looking for a strong run this season, even though he seems to be playing pretty consistently, but it just hasn't been enough to really challenge for titles so far. Perhaps coming back to Haikou will inspire him, at least to get through this part of the draw, if not further.

    Stephen Maguire finally finds himself as the winner of the previous event, after a long time. Normally, that would almost rule him out of contention, but we've already seen Mark Selby winning back-to-back events this season. Well, Maguire won't be lacking in confidence... His previous visits to China have seen mixed results. He won the China Open in 2008 and reached another final last year, but he's also had a bunch of early exits in the various Chinese tournaments in recent seasons. He too faces very tricky opposition. Marcus Campbell seems to be playing some of the best snooker of his career these days, and he too has already reached a ranking semi-final in China this season, also in the Wuxi Classic. Ricky Walden and Peter Ebdon meet in what is, in my opinion, the most exciting prospect of the 1st round. They both currently hold ranking titles, Walden won the Wuxi Classic at the start of the season, while Ebdon won the China Open last season, beating Maguire in the final. In fact, Ebdon and Maguire have already played each other on two occasions in China this season, each winning one, but Ebdon's 6-1 victory in the International Championship was perhaps the more memorable of the two. On top of that, Ebdon was a finalist in Australia, so he seems as dangerous as ever, perhaps even more dangerous than a couple of seasons ago. But at the same time, he does have his off days as well, and it's cost him in the qualifiers recently, as he's failed to reach a couple of venues. As for Walden, he has always been a specialist for the Chinese events, which is the main reason he finds himself in the top16 at this point in time, so he will be very tough to beat. Whoever comes through this quarter will really have earned it.


    Quarter 2:

    Mark Williams v. Marco Fu
    Ding Junhui v. Michael Holt
    Stuart Bingham v. A.Higginson/Zhao X.
    John Higgins v. A.McManus/Lin S.

    A strong quarter on first glance, but considering two of the big favourites are very much struggling at the moment, it may be weaker than it looks. Once again, I'm not sure what to say about Mark Williams at this point... He's had his share of easy draws over the last couple of events, and he hasn't really taken advantage. He doesn't have that luxury here, meeting one of the toughest qualifiers in the 1st round. On recent results, Fu could easily be considered the favourite in this part of the draw, having reached a ranking final in the German Masters recently, and he's added a couple of other good runs this season as well. It's funny, it seems like Williams has been struggling for a long time now, but it's actually Ding Junhui who is the 9-16 seed here. I guess losing in the 1st round of the World Championship has that effect on your ranking, and it doesn't help if you follow it up with a 1st round exit at the UK as well. But having said that, I don't get the impression that Ding is struggling particularly. He has certainly had his share of tough draws, meeting the likes of Selby, Robertson and Murphy early in tournaments, and all in good form at the time. Ding played very well in the Welsh Open, he just didn't quite have the edge in the end, losing to Stuart Bingham in the semi-finals. His record in China is not all that great, with several surprising early exits against players like Dave Harold or even against other Chinese players. On top of that, his record against Williams isn't great either, if they should meet in the 2nd round. Michael Holt also deserves a mention here, having reached a rare quarter-final in the German Masters, which equaled his best-ever run in a ranking tournament. He beat Williams in that event, so I don't think he will worry as much about him, but it's tough to see him getting through this part of the draw in any case.

    A couple of seasons ago this would have seemed crazy, but Stuart Bingham surely must be the favourite for the other QF spot here, even though he is in the same quarter as John Higgins. There is a danger straight away, as he potentially faces Andrew Higginson in the 1st round, the player who took him out of the German Masters with a convincing 5-1 victory. Even though Bingham is still waiting for a ranking title this season, he has been one of the big players, particularly in China, with a ranking final and two PTC titles. It will be interesting to see if he follows the good Welsh Open with a bad tournament here. I think being a great traveler, he should be fine. We obviously can't rule out Higgins either. A ranking title in Shanghai, but a terrible season otherwise. A bad season for Higgins would usually mean a couple of 2nd round exits here and there, with generally underwhelming results, kind of like last season. But this season has seen him go out in 1st rounds on several occasions, against veterans such as Lines and Doherty, and he also failed to get a result in any of the big three events of the season so far. I'm not sure I've even seen him play Alan McManus in the time I've watched snooker, but he is a similar player to Doherty in many ways, so he might provide a strong challenge. On top of that, he's just had his best run in years in a ranking event, which has surely given him confidence for the rest of the season. As I said, Bingham is surely the favourite, but with the class of Higgins, a bit of form from him could change things dramatically.


    Quarter 3:

    Judd Trump v. M.Joyce/N.Saengkham
    Allister Carter v. N.Bond/Zhu Y.
    Matthew Stevens v. D.Gilbert/Lu N.
    Shaun Murphy v. Martin Gould

    The third quarter is not quite as strong as the first one either, particularly with one of the seeds missing. First of all, we could have the repeat of Trump against Joyce. They played in the 1st round of the UK, with Joyce getting a surprising victory against one of the tournament favourites. Trump went through a bad patch after that, but played better at the Welsh Open, only losing to a strong Maguire in the semi-finals. He is of course the winner of the previous event in China, and generally doesn't seem to have a problem playing there. It's tough to see past him in this part of the draw really. He has been drawn next to Carter yet again, I think for the third time in recent months, but again they avoid each other. So that makes Nigel Bond the biggest obstacle for Trump, if he gets past the wildcard round. It could be tricky, as players like Bond and Joyce are exactly the kind of players that can get in trouble in these rounds. Trump himself lost against an amateur on his first visit to China.

    Shaun Murphy is the most obvious contender for the other spot. I'm sure no one would choose Martin Gould as their opponent in the 1st round, but I think Murphy won't mind too much, as he's had a couple of strong wins against him in the past, in the final of the PTC series in 2011, as well as the UK and the Masters the following season. Murphy has been in good form for most of the season, appearing at the business end of most events. He lost in the last32 of the Welsh Open, 4-3 to Pankaj Advani, but it was a short match, and you can't be at your best all of the time. He has never won a ranking title in China, which is quite rare for top players these days. And now that Maguire has won another ranking title, that leaves Murphy as the top player who hasn't won one for the longest time, which must surely be very frustrating for him. He has a history with two other players in this part of the draw... Matthew Stevens has played Murphy quite a lot over the last couple of years, and even though he's had a couple of really demoralizing defeats against him, he's also beaten him a couple of times, and he will be first in line to take advantage if Murphy is out of sorts here. Stevens played some dreadful stuff at the Masters, but he seemed to be in better form in Germany and Wales, so perhaps he can build on that and have a good run here. And finally, Lu Ning could also be a danger here. He famously beat Murphy in the 2012 China Open, so I always look forward to seeing how he has progressed as a player. I don't expect him to do much here, but he at least has a decent chance of winning his wildcard match, with the home advantage over Gilbert.


    Quarter 4:

    Neil Robertson v. Dominic Dale
    Graeme Dott v. J.Cope/Wang Y.
    Barry Hawkins v. I.Burns/S.Muhammad
    Mark Selby v. S.Bedford/Lu H.

    The fourth quarter has a couple of nice prospects as well. Robertson against Dale first of all... It's not actually a grudge match, but I think Robertson will be looking for some revenge after that defeat in the Australian Open last season, where Dale needed a snooker on the pink in the decider and got it. Like Murphy, Robertson also hasn't won a ranking title in China yet, but he came pretty close in the International Championship this season, losing 10-8 to Judd Trump in the final. He is generally strong in the best-of-11 format, so that was always going to be a strong tournament for him, but we're back to best-of-9s here. Still, Robertson has finally developed some consistency over the last year or so, reaching the business end of tournaments more often than not. Moving on, Graeme Dott against Jamie Cope is of course the repeat of the 2007 China Open final, if Cope manages to win his wildcard match. In any case, it's nice to see Cope at a venue again. He has never impressed me particularly, but as a former top16 player, there is no good reason for him to be struggling this much at the time when he is supposed to be reaching his peak. Dott could be strong here, particularly if Robertson is out of sorts. Another thing Dott and Cope have in common, they won't be looking forward to playing Robertson, both having lost a ranking final to him in the past. Dott in particular has found Robertson a tough opponent over the years.

    The last part of the draw features three players whom I find interesting. Mark Selby is the big favourite of course... After his big success in the UK and the Masters, his form has dropped a bit, which is quite understandable. He was whitewashed by Joe Perry in Wales, and he lost heavily to Barry Hawkins in Germany. That defeat, along with the one at the WC against Hawkins, surely gives Hawkins the psychological edge over Selby at this point in time. I expected that to be a factor at the Welsh Open, but they both got knocked out early, so they never met. Hawkins is having the best season of his career, a ranking title in Australia and another semi-final in Germany recently. Like Bingham, he is looking more and more like a top player with every tournament, and at this point he must be considered in that second division of title contenders. I am certainly looking forward to seeing whether he can knock Selby out again. It doesn't look like many players could spoil it for these two here, but I think Lu Haotian surely deserves a mention. The guy became the youngest player ever to reach a ranking quarter-final at the International Championship, beating the likes of Michael White and Dominic Dale on his way in the best-of-11 format. He couldn't quite hold his own against Robertson on that occasion, and it's probably going to be the same against Selby if he gets to play him here, but you never know.


    Possible QF lineup:

    Mark Allen v. Ricky Walden
    Ding Junhui v. Stuart Bingham
    Judd Trump v. Shaun Murphy
    Neil Robertson v. Mark Selby



    There we are... not long to go now. Should be a great week.

  • #2
    Peter Ebdon is really struggling. Think he should go back to his old cue. Mind you, people moving in the audience and insects landing on balls are not helping !

    Comment


    • #3
      Originally posted by wmccreedy View Post
      Peter Ebdon is really struggling. Think he should go back to his old cue. Mind you, people moving in the audience and insects landing on balls are not helping !
      According to a commentator on Eurosport Ebdon's not playing with his own cue.

      Comment


      • #4
        Originally posted by Looki View Post
        According to a commentator on Eurosport Ebdon's not playing with his own cue.
        On itv4 they're saying that it's Walden who's not playing with his own cue as it got delayed on the flight over and so he's using Stephen Maguire's cue instead.

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by dameinthisyear View Post
          On itv4 they're saying that it's Walden who's not playing with his own cue as it got delayed on the flight over and so he's using Stephen Maguire's cue instead.
          Ok, Finnish commentator has propably misunderstood something as he said that Ebdon's playing with Maguire's cue. But I doubt that Maguire would use a cue like that.

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          • #6
            This is another great advert for GBL cues. Ricky has taken to Maguire's cue like a duck to water !

            Comment


            • #7
              Good write up Odrl and Qtr 1 is definitely the strongest with half of them recent ranking event winners, though with the last eleven ranking events won by different players are we looking at a different winner again as nobody is dominating? Trumpy has the weakest Qtr by far but I stand by my opinion that any player in it can win it these days.

              Good to see it back on terrestrial TV again and the first ranking event on ITV for twenty years, Hearn is doing good for snooker.

              Taking an 'outsider' from each Qtr, Milkins has form in this event, Fu has the pedigree and is at home, Gould's confidence should be up and Lu Haotian has already made the last eight from the wildcards this season so these are my four outsider picks now doomed to early exits.

              Why are there no crowds, thought snooker was popular in China?

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by sberry View Post
                Why are there no crowds, thought snooker was popular in China?
                I've no idea either. Maybe it's all under government control. Apparently, Ding Junhui is the fourth most popular sportsman in China, which makes it all the more surprising.

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                • #9
                  The problem with the lack of crowds could be in part due to the fact that many people will have been off work for a few weeks for CNY and they probably can't afford any more time off or money to go and watch. It'll probably pick up for the bigger match ups but that crowd wouldn't have been much better at some venues in the uk for Walden vs Ebdon.

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                  • #10
                    Yeah, it's a shame this is played in such a dead atmosphere, especially since it was a good opening session.

                    Nice finish from Walden against Ebdon, a couple of high breaks with Maguire's cue. The McManus-Lin match got quite interesting towards the end as well. McManus was all over the place in the last three frames. I figured he would win once the last frame went scrappy, but he only just got over the line.

                    Not sure which matches will be televised in the next session. Personally, I'd like to see a bit of Milkins-Davis and Gilbert-Lu.

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                    • #11
                      Earlier on the commentary team mentioned there's a general concensus that the tickets are overpriced for the local market....

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by wmccreedy View Post
                        This is another great advert for GBL cues. Ricky has taken to Maguire's cue like a duck to water !
                        I wouldn't go that far. I think he struggled at times, although it's hard to say if it was because of the cue.

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by crocodile View Post
                          I've no idea either. Maybe it's all under government control. Apparently, Ding Junhui is the fourth most popular sportsman in China, which makes it all the more surprising.
                          ...only the fourth most popular sportsman in China? Which sports are the other 3 in...table tennis, athletics...?

                          Looking forward to catching up on today's snooker later on when I get home from work....

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by daffie View Post
                            ...only the fourth most popular sportsman in China? Which sports are the other 3 in...table tennis, athletics...?
                            Yao Ming and Liu Xiang are two big names from a couple of years ago. Yao was a basketball player in the NBA, but retired after a serious injury, and Liu is of course the former world record holder in 110m hurdles.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by wmccreedy View Post
                              This is another great advert for GBL cues. Ricky has taken to Maguire's cue like a duck to water !
                              Does Maguire use GBL cue?

                              Comment

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