The week of Walden – Roewe Shanghai Masters Champion 2008

What a week it has been for Ricky Walden as he became the second surprise winner of the Shanghai Masters in a row, following on from Dominic Dale in 2007. Click below for a reminder of just how he did it:

Wildcard Walkover

Coming into the event having recently won the 2008 Belgian Open with a tremendous 4-0 win against Graeme Dott in the final, Ricky began his Shanghai campaign with a wildcard match against young Chinese hope Anda Zhang on Monday. Walden proved to be far too strong for his opponent, running out a 5-0 winner in no time whatsoever.

Anda Zhang 0-5 Ricky Walden 18-69, 24-83(37), 23-87(32), 11-62, 0-74(74)

Hendry Humbled

Ricky’s first real test came in the last 32 where he faced the great seven-times world champion Stephen Hendry in what would prove to be the first of many close matches this week. Despite a tremendous clearance from Hendry to peg Walden back to 4-4, Ricky handled the deciding frame brilliantly and hit back with an 85 break of his own to secure a great win. This was the first sign of his ability to perform under significant pressure that was to prove a hallmark of his success this week.

Stephen Hendry 4-5 Ricky Walden 102(71)-14, 27-61(43), 25-69(31), 111(88)-24, 68(41)-0, 5-124(104), 15-70, 65(65)-50(49), 0-85(85)

Robertson Rocked

At 4-1 down to Australian Neil Robertson in the last 16 it looked like Walden’s run was going to end as he struggled to cope with the scoring of his higher ranked opponent. Having fought back magnificently to level the match at 4-4 however, Walden was to get in first in the deciding frame and just like against Hendry, handled the pressure expertly to win the match in one visit, making a break of 89 this time. In doing so he reached only the second ranking event quarter-final of his career, the first for over three years.

Neil Robertson 4-5 Ricky Walden 61(55)-14, 90(76)-0, 49(39)-90(60), 64(50)-1, 59-26, 31(30)-72(32), 0-79(75), 41(41)-79(66), 0-89(89)

Davis Overwhelmed

Facing up to another all-time great in the shape of six-times world champion Steve Davis, Walden again had to fight back from behind as he slipped 2-0 behind early on. Now leading 3-2, the pivotal moment in this match came when Davis having made a break of 65, failed to pot a long blue to the green pocket, allowing Walden to steal the frame by just five points. Rounding off the match in style with a break of 139, Ricky was through to the first semi-final of his career.

Steve Davis 2-5 Ricky Walden 69-17, 51-38, 43-81(53), 11-87(71), 22-82(65), 65-70(58), 0-139(139)

Selby Stunned

Up until this point the form player of the tournament, Mark Selby was the heavy favourite to win this match and progress to the final against Ronnie O’Sullivan, what would have been a rematch of their Welsh Open encounter this year. Early on it looked like this would be exactly how things would pan out as Selby without playing at his best, did enough to surge into a 4-1 lead, needing just two more for the match.

At this point however, Ricky was to turn things right around, winning the next five frames of the match to take a famous 6-4 victory, stunning Selby and reaching the first final of his professional career.

Ricky Walden 6-4 Mark Selby 9-69, 31(31)-67, 74(41)-46(43), 9-97(41,47), 29-70, 71(30)-40, 78(58)-45, 91(86)-34, 81(34,36)-32, 74(47)-0

Champion at last

Up against Ronnie O’Sullivan, undoubtedly the best player in the world right now, it was vital that Walden got off to a good start and this he did, moving 3-1 ahead at the interval. This should have been 4-1 however but a missed pot and a few minutes later Ricky found himself 4-3 down and I was wondering whether he had missed his chance.

This was not the case at all however as the pair continued to trade frames until Walden found himself just one away from the match at 9-7. Despite missing a gilt-edged chance to win it in frame 17, Walden held his nerve brilliantly in the next to win the match and the title with a sublime break of 105.

First Session: Ricky Walden 4-5 Ronnie O’Sullivan 0-88(48,39, 61(47)-47(32), 113(74)-20, 99(94)-4, 22-86(58), 0-95(64,31), 1-87(87), 77(56)-38(30), 0-78(78)
Second Session: Ricky Walden 10-8 Ronnie O’Sullivan, 104(95)-0, 5-122(108), 78(30,48)-21, 65(48)-25, 16-82(82), 73(59)-23, 84(48)-4, 30-66(43), 105(105)-11

The future

Following a thoroughly deserved victory, both for his performance on the day and the others during the week, Ricky will now move up to 17th in the provisional rankings and so has a fantastic opportunity to break into the top 16 for the first time. He has qualified for the upcoming Grand Prix tournament in Glasgow so is already guaranteed a few more points, with more to come should he manage to overcome Ryan Day in the last 32.

Hopefully he will continue to perform well in the qualifiers and qualify for some of the biggest events this season such as the UK Championship and for the first time, the World Championship at the Crucible Theatre.