Bahrain Championship Latest: Hitman handles the Shotgun

With Ronnie O’Sullivan absent from the tournament it meant that there would be just one match on in this morning’s session involving Jamie Cope and Michael Holt. Click below to read what happened…

Jamie Cope 3-5 Michael Holt

Nottingham professional Michael Holt continued his encouraging start to the season with a 5-3 win over another in-form player, Jamie Cope from Stoke.

Michael came out of the blocks quickly with a break of 79 to take the opening frame and although the next couple of frames were more scrappy and saw chances for both players, it was the Hitman who came out in both to lead 3-0.

Jamie Cope however, nicknamed the ‘shotgun’ for his quick game and devastating long potting, took the last before the interval before making an 80 break straight afterwards to reduce his arrears to 3-2. Given Michael’s sometimes questionable temperament, would he be able to handle this comeback?

As on a few occasions already this season, Michael showed few signs of nerves and made a 74 break of his own in frame six to move just one away from the match at 4-2. Although Jamie did pull another frame back, Michael was playing too well to let it slip and finished things off in frame eight to win it 5-3.

This is a another very good win for Holt and although it is a surprise to see Jamie go out, I am not totally shocked by any means. Michael really seems to be playing some of the best snooker I have seen from him and mentally he looks stronger than he has for the last few years.

Indeed Michael told World Snooker:

“I’ve had good moments in my career before, but as an all-round package this season has been the best I’ve ever played,” said Holt, who has never been beyond the quarter-finals of a ranking event. “I’m hitting the ball better than ever and I have improved a lot mentally. I’m handling things which go against me on the table a lot better.

“I was nervous from the start today because I’d never beaten Jamie and I know he’s dangerous. I had a chance to go 4-0 up so when he got back to 4-3 it was edgy, but I managed to win and I didn’t miss any daft balls.”

Next up for Michael is a tie with the winner of Peter Ebdon and Robert Milkins, a match he will feel that he has a good chance of winning given the form of the two players and indeed his own strong form.

For Jamie meanwhile this is a blow to his chances of being ranked in the top 16 next year, but he is still well positioned in the rankings and I would expect him to go on another good run soon, probably in the UK Championship in Telford next month should he qualify.