Ali up to 2nd…
Having resumed the second session of the 2009 Welsh Open final against Joe Swail trailing 5-4 before producing a scintillating display of snooker to win 9-5, many expected Ali to produce something similar today against Jamie. It was not quite to turn out that way however as Jamie hung in there well for much of the day and in keeping with the rest of the week, the conditions for whatever reason were not conducive to top quality snooker.
Resuming 5-4 ahead, Ali took the first frame of the evening session to increase his lead to 6-4 before what followed was an enthralling 11th frame which swung one way and then the other. Coming down to the final pink, some tremendous safety play from both left it hard to call a winner before eventually it was Ali who made the mistake, allowing Jamie to close the gap to 6-5.
Ali then wasted no time in moving another frame ahead courtesy of a break of 72, the highest of the match, before Jamie again kept himself in the match by taking another frame to trail 7-6 heading into the final interval of the match. You just had the feeling that if Ali could just break pull frames clear then it would be too much for Jamie to overhaul but the Scot was able to hang in there and keep himself within striking distance of Ali.
The pattern continued when play resumed as Ali moved 8-6 ahead before Jamie won another terrific frame which came down to the colours to move back to within a frame yet again. A superb pink in particular having run out of awkward position was top drawer.
That was however to be the last frame that Jamie was to win as finally Ali was able to take the next two frames to get himself over the line and complete a 10-7 win.
His second ranking event title in 18 months, this is a victory for Ali that underlines the fact that not only is he one of the most consistent players on the professional circuit, he is also one of the hardest to beat. As well as another trophy for his cabinet, he also takes 7,000 ranking points from this victory, moving him into second place on my latest provisional rankings list and right in contention to become only the eighth number one ranked player since the rankings were first introduced when the rankings are first revised in October.
For Jamie Burnett meanwhile although he could not quite go all the way, it has undoubtedly been the best week of his 18 year career to date and one that has seen him move from battling for a top 48 place to the fringes of the top 32. Whether Jamie will suddenly be a regular fixture at this stage of tournaments following this run remains to be seen, indeed I would not expect it, but full credit to him for grasping the opportunity presented to him by O’Sullivan’s withdrawal and earning £30,000 in the process, surely the biggest pay cheque of his career to date.
Click here to view my updated ranking list.