My view for the afternoon session today
Well I’m just back from my trip to Sheffield for the second day of the 2009 Betfred World Championship and as promised, here is my report. It is a bit shorter though as I got back late and need to be up early!
Mark Allen yesterday
Due to the lack of an early train on the Sunday I knew that I would only arrive in Sheffield at around 10:10am so was desperately hoping that Mark Allen and Martin Gould, who I had a ticket to watch, would get off to a slow start so that I would miss just the one frame. No such luck however as when I got there Mark was already into a 1-0 lead and looking like going 2-0 up!
Still, I hurried upstairs and took my seat for the start of the third frame and settled in for what I expected to be a really tight match between the exciting Allen and the impressive qualifier in Martin Gould. Initially it turned out that way too, both looked to be playing reasonably well without finding their best form as Allen edged into a 3-1 lead at the break. As an aside the match was played in good spirit, the players sharing a few jokes while Mark said ‘well done’ to Martin as he won his first frame to make it 2-1.
The crucial moment however came in frame five as Allen gained the upper hand before breaking down and presenting Martin with a fabulous opportunity to win the frame in one visit and pull back to just one behind. Martin though was obviously feeling the pressure and missed a simple opening red, which ultimately proved to be his last shot of the frame as Mark cleared for 4-1.
From this point the wheels immediately came off and as Martin struggled to pot anything even slightly difficult, Mark sensed blood and began to fire on all cylinders. In particular his break of 129 was as entertaining and full of flair as anything you will see all week and really delighted everyone in the crowd, bar an increasingly dejected Martin Gould who was sat in his chair. I have to say this is the third straight year that I have watched Mark at the Crucible and I have to say that I have been impressed with him on every occasion. Ok Martin helped him out today with the errors but Mark stepped up to the plate well and just oozes class. As you can tell I am quite a fan!
I did feel sorry for Martin though because having met him a few times now he seems to be a terrific bloke and even after that session he had time to stand around for photos and a chat, quipping that we should make the most of it because he won’t be here for much longer. Having seen him come through against David Gilbert and Matthew Stevens at the qualifiers I have seen just how good he is but it wasn’t his day and a pot success rate of 83% was never going to be enough for him unfortunately.
Following the conclusion of what was a very quick session, I could have stayed on for the McLeod/King match but as I was in for the afternoon too I opted to get a bit of food and head round to Stage Door to see who was about.
There I found Martin Gould as described above, as well as Michael Holt, Mark Selby, Ricky Walden, Ali Carter, Rory McLeod, Mark King, Nigel Bond and Joe Swail…think that was everybody. Michael was in a hurry, Mark seemed to be slightly nervous, perhaps understandably after how things turned out last year, while the others were all pretty normal I would say.
Table two ahead of the Carter/Greene match
Not a great deal was going on though so eventually I headed round to go in for the afternoon session and take up my seat on Row B for the Ali Carter/Gerard Greene match. As you can see from the photos, I had an excellent view, the only problem in fact being that my view was sometimes obscured by the referee.
The match itself was really strange because having won the last two frames last night to trail 3-6, Gerard made the better start and making it 6-4, really put the pressure on Carter who was definitely struggling. As was to be the story of Gerard’s session though, he really should have won frame 11 to move to just one behind but having left Ali needing a snooker, gifted him the four points with a poor escape and saw Ali steal the frame for 7-4.
Though the next two frames were shared, he was clearly shellshocked at this point and worse was to come after the interval after he lost the next frame having led it 71-4, missing a simple red to secure it along the way. As a result he found himself 9-5 down in a match that really should have been 7-7!
Ali was not playing great but he hung in there and won a few tight frames that perhaps he would not have done a couple of seasons ago. He duly wrapped up a 10-5 win and though he will know that he must improve if he is to go much further in the tournament, he is at least safely in the next round and has the opportunity to.
Though I could see much of the other table from my seat, I was concentrating on the Carter/Greene match for much of the session so could not read too much into how the action was unfolding. From what I can tell though the match started off pretty well, Mark in particular as he moved 2-0 and 4-2 ahead, before becoming a more tactical affair that again was always going to suit Selby.
I could not stay until the end of the session due to my train leaving at 18:30 but from 6-3 down, I don’t see Walden turning that around tomorrow to be honest. Stranger things have happened but Selby looked to be cueing pretty well and his stronger all-round game should be enough to see him though I think.
Overall I really enjoyed today as after a quiet opening Saturday, it felt a bit more like a World Championship somehow. The Allen/Gould match was really enjoyable to watch and the Carter/Greene one was fascinating in an entirely different way. I was expecting a 10-5 scoreline but not in that manner!
The night for me got even better when at home I managed to catch the end of the Hendry/Williams match and see Stephen prove me wrong by coming through to win. It seems that this owed a lot to the dodgy tip on the end of Williams’ cue but a win is a win and that is another 2,400 crucial ranking points for him.I must admit that both today and yesterday I thought that on the outside at least, Stephen looked so dejected and negative, almost as if he had no belief that he could win the match, but fair play to him for hanging in there. Such a contrast from a year ago when he looked confident, focused and determined to come through against Mark Allen. Tonight he just seemed relieved to be through.
Well done to Graeme Dott too who has secured his top 32 place for next season and won his first match at the venue since becoming world champion back in 2006. I am pleased to see him come back into form andhis match against Barry Hawkins was by no means an easy tie.
The other big thing from the day for me was the ridiculous amount of kicks that seemed to be happening in virtually every match on. The Allen/Gould affair in particular had more than a few, noticeably more than the match that I saw on the same table yesterday. It was much warmer in there today so I’m not sure if this made a difference?
Anyway better dash, shattered now and am up again in seven hours ready to do it all again. Hope you are all enjoying the tournament and the coverage being provided by the BBC.
Oh and my predictions are going well so far, four of the fives matches right, three the correct score! Will never last clearly.