Premier League Snooker 2009: Week Five News

Week five of the 2009 Premier League and on paper we have arguably the best pair of matches yet as first world number one Ronnie O’Sullivan takes on Shaun Murphy ahead of an all-Scottish clash between Stephen Hendry and John Higgins in Aberdeen.

Reports to follow after each of the matches…

Ronnie O’Sullivan 4-2 Shaun Murphy

104(104)-0, 68(34)-1, 89(56)-5, 0-101(81), 45(32)-84, 85(75)-5

Defending champion Ronnie O’Sullivan moved to the top of the 2009 table with an entertaining 4-2 victory over Shaun Murphy tonight.

Early on it looked as O’Sullivan might win the match at a canter as he went 1-0 up in six minutes with a break of 104 before he added the next two to secure a point from the evening in no time.

There were signs in frame three however that Murphy was prepared to play a more measured game after being punished for missed efforts in the first two and he at least avoided the whitewash in frame four by moving back to 3-1. The most interesting frame of the match however proved to be the fifth in which both players had numerous chances until just the colours remained. Ultimately though it was to be Ronnie’s shot on the final yellow that was decisive as not only did he miss it, but he went in-off paving the way for a frame-clinching clearance from Murphy.

From having looked comfortable at 3-0 at which point Murphy had potted just one ball, O’Sullivan was now under pressure and the sixth and final frame of the evening looked to be heading for a re-rack with several reds up in baulk. Following a period of safety play however it was Murphy who blinked first, playing a very attacking shot to open up reds and unfortunately for him leaving one right over the right-centre. Predictably this proved to be his last shot as a grateful O’Sullivan stepped up to take both points with a run of 75 and move one point ahead of Judd Trump at the top of the table.

As is often the case O’Sullivan was not particularly thrilled with his performance in his post-match interview but generally he looked to be playing well on what was a very fast table in Aberdeen. He will next be in action next week against Stephen Hendry in Grimsby (I will be there which should be good), as will Murphy who takes on Marco Fu.

John Higgins 3-3 Stephen Hendry

54(30)-65, 36(36)-76(76), 92(92)-0, 92(73)-0, 70(50)-1, 5-71(64)

Local legends John Higgins and Stephen Hendry played out a 3-3 draw in what was a strange, but very watchable second match this evening.

The first frame was by far the scrappiest frame of the match but as Higgins earned himself a cushion of around 30 points with four safe reds on the table, he looked to be a hot favourite to go 1-0 up early on. It was not to be however as perhaps slightly against the grain, Hendry scrapped away and eventually took it on the black to take the lead.

Despite this however he had not looked to be cueing well in that frame and as John moved 36 ahead in frame two following a fluke, it looked like the two would soon be level. John though could not win the frame in one-visit and aided by a couple of very brave shots, Hendry extended his lead to 2-0 with a more impressive break of 76.

Just as Stephen looked to be finding his range however, Higgins hit back in style with breaks of 92 and 73 without reply to level the match at 2-2 before securing a point from the night in frame five.

Hendry could have been forgiven for losing heart at this point, particularly having suffered an unfortunate run of the ball in that fifth frame but he responded in terrific style in the sixth. Having potted a very nice opening red from distance he was far from comfortable on the black but he fully committed to it and with another good red once it went in, got his reward with a break of 64. He did give Higgins a chance to get back into it but a foul soon brought this to an end and ensured that the spoils would be shared.

A fair result, this keeps both in contention for a top four place at the end of the league phase and sets things up very nicely for the weeks ahead. Stephen’s next match as already mentioned will be against O’Sullivan next week while John Higgins has a mouthwatering re-match with Neil Robertson to look forward to in a fortnight…