Betfred World Championship 2009: Day Four Blog

Back again from the Crucible and here is my blog for day four of the tournament, for me the most exciting yet. Just a quick note though to say that I have turned comment moderation on during the day while I am out so don’t panic if your comment does not appear initially. I just don’t want something malicious put up when I’m not here to check!

Morning Session – Ding’s Delight

Got to the Crucible today quite early, about half an hour before the start of the morning session and just caught Peter Ebdon as he headed on into the venue. Peter certainly has his detractors and for some might not be the most entertaining player to watch, but he is an absolute delight with the fans at the venue, as usual giving every fan a signed card of him with the World Championship trophy and having time for everyone. Nice guy.

Everyone else was in though so I headed round and took up my seat, today on row C behind the players which was extra-special to me because it was my old season ticket seat from 2006, nice to be back! MC Rob Walker was quite funny before the action got underway, pulling a prank on someone in the audience who happened to be celebrating their birthday today.

Soon though the players were out and in the case of Ding and Wenbo who I was watching, it really was time to be serious as everything was on the line. Just like yesterday it was Ding who got off to the better start, looking quite fluent in the balls and playing some good safety play as he took the opening two frames of the day to move 7-4 clear.

Liang though has an excellent temperament and just like yesterday he did not panic, kept playing his natural game and soon began to reap the rewards as Ding’s safety play began to seriously deteriorate. Wenbo took full advantage, taking the last two frames to close to 7-6 before moving into the lead for the first time in the entire match at 8-7 with a break of 91.

At this stage Liang was looking full of confidence while Ding just looked lost. In my mind I was already thinking of this post and writing about how Ding had crumbled yet again and how bad his safety had been. With Liang in and seemingly looking ominious again in frame 16 however, he unexpectedly missed a semi-difficult shot on a red and suddenly Ding was presented with his first easy chance to get some points on the board for several frames.

Having only scored 20 points in the previous four frames however, Ding was short on table time and surely would struggle to make much of it. Not a bit of it as it turned out as he cleared the table with a fabulous break of 111 and all of a sudden was looking fluent again. This obviously hurt Liang and he just started to miss a bit more, which Ding capitalised on superbly as he took the next two frames with runs of 91 and 63 to clinch a crucial opening round victory, not just for his ranking but his own confidence too.

As I say, at 8-7 and playing the way he was, I just could not see him getting back into it but he showed all his class when he needed it most and secured a win which clearly meant the world to him. Outside afterwards as he signed autographs and stood for photos he looked so happy and who knows, perhaps this win could be the one that gets him back on the right path. Time will tell on that one.

Liang will be pretty upset but in truth he played well and was unlucky to lose the match. Although he lost I think I realised for the first time just what a great temperament he has, recovering from 4-1 down to finish 5-4 down yesterday and today almost completing a famous comeback. With a bit more experience I am sure he will be back and go deep into this tournament in the not too distant future.


Though Peter Ebdon and Nigel Bond were still playing on the other table, I decided to head out of the arena and see if I could catch both Ding and Liang following their match. Before I did get out though I did catch another amusing sight – Willie Thorne at the new Betfred betting stand up outside the arena. Guess some things will never change eh?

Over at Stage Door I have mixed success with the two Chinese players as Ding I did manage to get a (great) picture of but with Wenbo I was torn between a photo and an autograph and ended up getting neither somehow!

It was pretty busy there today though and I managed to catch Andrew Higginson and Neil Robertson for photos, as well as seeing Stephen Hendry, Joe Swail, Joe Delaney (the two Irish guys both having a drinking session at the pub across from the Crucible), and a few other famous faces. Marco Fu and his girlfriend were also there somewhere, watching the Ding/Wenbo match inside the arena.


At this point I was planning to go home as I did not have a ticket for the afternoon session but in the end I managed to pick one up in Row F and headed inside to watch the final session of the match between Joe Perry and Jamie Cope. I thought that this could be a really tight clash but as it turned out Jamie would go on to win six of the seven frames played, most of them with superb clearances having already seen Joe make a 50+ break only to falter. Fair play to Jamie though, he was fluent, calm and deservedly became the first qualifier to make it through to the last 16.

Joe though must have been absolutely gutted and that assumption was confirmed when I headed out to Stage Door to try and catch both the players. Full credit to him though, despite being obviously disappointed and barely saying a word, he signed a few autographs and stood for a photo for me. I wanted to see Jamie and say well done to him but he must have given me the slip and left out of another exit. Hopefully will see him later in the week.


I could have gone back in for Higginson/Murphy at this point but decided to hang around outside and see who else I could find. As it turned out it would prove to be a good decision as I saw BBC presenter Ray Stubbs, former referee Paul Collier (though of course he still does the Premier/Championship Leagues for Matchroom), and Stephen Maguire who was inside for a practice. John Higgins was also inside and left in the same car as Maguire, but he was obviously in a rush and so I did not get a photo of the double world champion.

Other notable people that I saw were Martin Gould’s coach who I had a decent chat with about the reasons for his loss and Martin’s 38 147 breaks made in practice, as well as Steve Prest who I am told is working with Ronnie O’Sullivan at the moment.

Snooker players aside I also caught Ryan Watterson and his dad, for those of you who don’t know them from TSF/Facebook they are another couple of enthusiastic snooker fans who like myself enjoy taking a photo or two! You can read his ‘fan’s eye view’ on Global Snooker here.


Eventually though I had to head off home before the start of the evening session and hope that I would not miss too much while I was on the train. Just before I went however I was there to see Neil Robertson arrive for his opening match with Steve Davis this evening and sensed that he was not in the best of moods, usually he is very smiley and outgoing but he seemed a bit tense tonight, perhaps understandably so. Most interestingly though, he was asked how his shoulder (reportedly injured last week in China), felt and he replied with “we will soon see” which I thought was rather ominous.

As it turned out though he need not have worried as without ever playing his best stuff, he eased into a 7-2 lead against Steve Davis (who had a bit of trouble with a fan prior to the match as it happens), who was just not at the races tonight, missing several blacks off the spot and struggling to score well when in. I did not see the whole of the match though so perhaps regular PSB commenter dannyboy (who I believe was there tonight), will be able to fill in the blanks on that match.

Over on the other table though we saw arguably the biggest shock of the tournament so far as Peter Ebdon slipped to a 10-5 defeat against Nigel Bond, showing perhaps that his win out in China recently was the exception rather than the rule for a player who has endured a tough season overall. Well done to Nigel though who moves into the last 16 here yet again and gives himself a much needed rankings boost.

That’s about everything for now I think. Tomorrow I am having a day off so while I will not be at the Crucible, hopefully I will be able to post a bit more on here. Again I have updated the latest rankings list for those of you wondering how today’s results have affected things.