Monday, 5 May 2008

Snooker: World Championships - Ronnie Triumphs

Well my prediction of a close final fell by the waste side. At least the match went to the final session! There wasn't really any fantastic snooker in the final and it was a bit of a breeze for Ronnie in the end.

Carter was simply mentally exhausted, he had nothing left in the tank after great wins over Barry Hawkins, Shaun Murphy, Peter Ebdon and Joe Perry. And of course the amazing maximum that he made the day after Ronnie made his.

It's been an excellent championship this year and Ronnie fully deserves his win, he's been totally focused for the full 17 days and hasn't looked in any danger in any of his matches. The final session against Williams was awesome with very high breaks and his record breaking 9th maximum, the way he simply blew away 7 times world champion Stephen Hendry, nobody can say any other player deserves the title.

Before his talk of retirement in the interview after the final, he did say he wants 4 or 5 world titles. Ronnie won't be retiring just yet, he's too good at the moment and the joy on his face was plain to see after winning and after his maximum. It will be interesting to see his reaction after the disciplinary action against him in the summer for his lewd comments in China though. But once he gets through and over that, he'll be fine and he'll be back.

This win puts Ronnie in the same league as only 2 other players, Steve Davis and Stephen Hendry, as players that have won 3 or more world titles at the Crucible.

The following are some of the moments that stand out for me in this years' tournament.

The sheer number of attempted maximums by several different players as well as Ronnie's and Ali's maximums. There could have easily been 3 or 4 this year, the standard of break building was so high despite the record number of centuries in the tournament not getting beaten.

The young 17 year old Chinese player Liu Chuang. For a player so young, his all round game and potting was excellent. He won something like 5 qualifying matches to get to the Crucible and took 5 frames off Ronnie in the first round. He looks quality and I'm looking forward to seeing more of him in the future. Could he be better than Ding?

Liang Wenbo, what a star! He beat Doherty convincingly in the first round and was involved in a Crucible thriller against Joe Swail in the last 16. To win that match against Joe, who is one of the best Crucible match players in the game, shows the guy has real nerve and talent. Again, one for the future.

Jamie Cope and Mark Allen were excellent and it was only their inexperience that let them down. We should be seeing a lot of Mark Allen next season as getting to the Crucible was enough to earn him his top 16 place. Allen is a fantastic break builder as is Cope, and Cope is a devastating single ball potter.

It's great to see Mark Williams and Stephen Hendry playing good snooker again. Even though Williams has dropped out of the top 16, I think he will qualify for many of the tournaments next season and hope to see him back in the top 16 soon!

For me the biggest disappointment was Ding Junhui. He fell over the line against Marco Fu in the first round and barely turned up at all in his match against Hendry. I think Fu would have given Hendry a better match. It was Ding's chance to be the youngest ever world champion but he was just nowhere in the tournament. I hope his match play and temperament improves next season, because when on form, he's just a joy to watch.

From the top 16 we've lost Williams, Doherty, Lee and Davis. The biggest surprise is Doherty, a couple of years ago he was provisionally ranked number 1, and now he has to qualify for all events next season.

King, Fu, Allen and Perry come into the top 16. A big surprise for Allen as he thought he wouldn't make it after getting beat in the first round by Hendry. I saw this guy play in the 2004 European Amateur championships in Austria when I was playing there and he's such a huge talent, a great player to watch.

I'll keep on posting through the summer so don't forget to add greenbaize to your feed reader by clicking here or any of the icons on the right for the favourite reader of your choice.

Congratulations Ronnie O'Sullivan on a great performance!

Sunday, 4 May 2008

Snooker: World Championships - Ali O'Sullivan Final

Why did I start the title off with Ali first, alphabetically obviously. :-)

The final is going to be a lot tighter than we all think, why do I think that?? There's a stunning 147 that Carter made and went completely nuts about. He beat Perry 17-15, it was a fantastic semi final encounter and Carter held his nerve exceptionally well, that is a fact, and the guy has won absolutely nothing!!!

So why do I think he has any kind of chance. Well, I don't know, Graeme Dott, Shaun Murphy. These guys have won it from nothing! A few other names spring to mind, and Ali beat Shaun Murphy in the 2nd round. The purists will be saying it should be a Ronnie vs Murphy/Maguire final. But remember, he's knocked out Murphy convincingly, beat Ebdon, a former world champ and one of the best players in the world today, and knocked in a 147 maximum to boot!!!!!!

Carter's reaction to beating Perry was just amazing!! It looked like he'd won the tournament and it was great to see, and we want to see scenes like that in the final.

Carrter's there and ready to win, he will match him pot for pot and the match will be measured as one of the greatest matches in snooker history!!

Of course I'm not sure of any of this but I hope it's going to be the case. Will it be a walkover, no! Does Carter have a chance? Well, it's the best chance he's had of winning any ranking event.

Can he play? Rumours from my sources say he was Ronnie's practice parter of and used to beat him quite frequently.

It has to be said though, it's great to see the 2 maximum men in the final. And may the best man win!

Friday, 2 May 2008

Snooker: World Championships - Ronnie Hammers Hendry, ...Again

Stephen Hendry was hammered by Ronnie O'Sullivan in the semi finals of the World Championships. Ronnie was simply in blistering form and completed his win with a session to spare beating Hendry by 17 frames to 6.

Honours looked pretty even after the first session when the duo were locked at 4 frames each. But Ronnie looked awesome in the second session winning all 8 frames although Hendry had chances to win 2 or 3 of the frames. But for the majority of the session Ronnie was simply flying, doing to Hendry what Hendry has done to many others in the past. Ronnie had to win the third session 5-3 to stop the match going into the final session but in the end won it convincingly.

Ronnie had breaks of 64, 102, 93, 57, 87, 133, 135, 85, 70, 126, 68, 123, 56 and 59. Only 5 centuries in the match!! :o)

In the frames Hendry won, he had breaks of 140, 60, 53, 85 and 54. 5 breaks over 50 and he's lost 17-6, that's extremely high quality snooker!! This isn't Hendry's worst result against Ronnie, in their 2004 World Championship semi final, Ronnie demolished him 17-4, but this year Hendry did play much better when he got to the table. It did still look like someone slowly throttling an animal to death though and even I wanted Ronnie to win quickly so Hendry could get out of the arena.

After the match Hendry said Ronnie's play was the best he'd ever seen and said that if Ronnie continued to play like that in the final, Perry or Carter wouldn't have a chance of beating him. Obviously, just about everybody, except maybe Perry and Carter, would have to agree, he just doesn't miss. It has to be said though, Hendry in the 90s just didn't miss either, and he's the one with 7 world titles under his belt. I've never seen anybody look as natural or as fluent as Ronnie when he's on song though, that is a certainty

In the second semi final, Carter came back from 5-3 down to lead 9-7 after the second session. The last 2 sessions are played tomorrow at 10:00 and 19:00. I haven't really seen any of this match so can't really comment. I think it will take either player the best form of their lives to beat Ronnie in the final though.