Rankingswatch: Grand Prix Update

As the dust settles on John Higgins’ 19th ranking event victory, it is time to have a look at how the week has affected the latest provisional rankings

Turning first to the two finalists this week, it is unsurprising to see that both have made significant gains in the standings. John Higgins by winning the tournament gains 6,250 points and not only moves up into sixth place, but puts himself within striking distance of the three players in front of him. These include runner-up Ryan Day who moves up to a career high of third on the list, though he remains well behind the top two, Ronnie O’Sullivan and despite his early exit here, Stephen Maguire.

The one noticeable thing about the rankings at the moment is how beyond the top two, the top 16 is almost becoming two distinct divisions as there are just a few thousand points separating Ryan Day in third and Marco Fu in ninth, while the next group of players headed by Stephen Hendry in tenth are a further 3,000 back. Unless someone has a disastrous season, it would appear that the top nine therefore are in a reasonably strong position to retain their top 16 place for next season. Those below on the other hand all have some work to do as there are less than 3,000 points separating Hendry in 10th and Mark King in 20th.

In my tournament preview for the Grand Prix I identified four players who were all in desperate need of a win. Three of them, Hendry, Peter Ebdon and Ding Junhui managed to get at least one, keeping them in the provisional top 16 for now, but Shaun Murphy slumped to his third defeat in three events this season. As a result he now slips three places to 7th and he needs a win more than ever in Bahrain. At least there is now a plausible reason for his run of form with the recent news of his separation from his wife and hopefully from his point of view he can get back winning soon.

Looking further down the rankings, there could not be a bigger contrast between the two other big movers this week. By reaching the semi and quarter-finals respectively, young Judd Trump and the veteran Steve Davis have both climbed several places and both sit in the top 30 at present. While this is nothing new for Steve, this is the first time in Judd’s short career that he has been so high and he will now be optimistic of moving into the top 32 for the first time at the end of the season. A top 16 place is not impossible, though it would take a few more weeks like this one and I think he will have a much better shot at that next year.

I mentioned this last night in a separate piece but it is worth flagging up Graeme Dott’s ranking situation again to confirm that he has now been awarded first round losers points for the last two events, the Grand Prix and the Shanghai Masters. He still sits down in 45th position in the provisional rankings though and needs to get back playing again to give himself any sort of chance of maintaining a decent ranking for next season.

He is not the only one struggling though as following another qualifying failure, Ken Doherty slips to 38th on the provisional list and now faces a fight to keep in the top 32, never mind regain a spot in the top 16. It is such a shame because he is one of the nicest guys you could ever wish to meet, but life in the qualifiers has by his own admission proved tough to adapt to. Same goes for Matthew Stevens who is at 33rd on the list is also struggling for a result. At least both have qualified already for the next tournament in Bahrain due to various withdrawals and will hope for better at the TV venue.