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Ssb - four play

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  • Ssb - four play

    If Neil Robertson or Matthew Stevens win the Haikou World Open – and one of them will be in the final – then it’ll be 13 different winners from the last 13 ranking tournaments.

    In some ways the game has never been as open, but the titles are still shared around by a familiar group of names.

    When the system changes next season and everyone comes in at the last 128 stage for all but three ranking events it will be interesting to see if this pattern remains or if some new faces start winning titles.

    For the moment, it’s four players with major titles to their name in the semi-finals. The man to beat is surely John Higgins, superb yesterday against Ding Junhui.

    Higgins had been in the doldrums since losing 6-5 to Mark Davis in the last 16 of the UK Championship in December but increasingly the top players are going through peaks and troughs in these lengthy seasons.

    Higgins has roared back to form but Mark Allen, who has battled well without playing his very best this week, has beaten him three times out of eight.

    One of these wins came in his second match as a professional at the 2005 Northern Ireland Trophy, which said a lot about Allen and his head for the big occasion.

    Robertson will be favourite to beat Stevens despite the Welshman’s 5-3 St. David’s Day victory over Judd Trump.

    The key moment of this match came before it had begun when Trump got his cue out of his case and found that the tip had become warped into a strange shape.

    Quite how this happened isn’t clear. There was some suggestion he had put it in the case the wrong way round and it had gone into the join of his extension.

    Whatever it was it certainly affected his performance, but Stevens still had to pot the balls and made a good break in the last frame to reach his first ranking tournament semi-final since last season’s World Championship.

    It’s been a strange event: low crowds, cues going missing, a plague of flies in the arena, errant photographers putting players off and, in the Trump v Stevens match, flashing disco lights.

    I wondered at first if this was leading to a return of the ghastly Harlem Shake from Newport but it seems someone flicked a switch by accident.

    Snooker players have put up with a lot over the years and usually adapt to whatever is thrown at them but there’s been a surreal tone at times to the tournament.

    Hopefully it’ll be a high quality finish.


  • #2
    John Higgins all the way.