PTC12: Stage Set For Semi-Finals

Day two completed in Munich and the line-up for the last four is complete as Stephen Hendry rounded off an entertaining day’s play by edging out Michael Holt to join Martin Gould, Joe Perry and Stephen Maguire in the semi-finals…

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Stephen Hendry is through to the semi-finals of the PTC12 event following an engrossing match against Michael Holt this evening which required a deciding frame to separate the two.

The early running was made by Hendry as he took the opening frame, before adding the second despite having at one point trailed 53-6 with barely enough on the table to win. Holt had his chances, but a missed blue proved to be decisive and Hendry duly cleared the final three balls to take the frame.

The lead could have gone to three but a break of 63, followed by an in-off on the final green from Hendry allowed Holt back into the match at 1-2. As was in keeping with the pattern of the match, the fourth frame once again came down to the colours as Holt again took it to level at 2-2, before the next frame was to be even closer as Hendry having needed a snooker was able to get it before clearing with 35 to force a re-spotted black. It was Michael who would take it however, moving into the lead for the first time at 3-2 and just one away from a place in the semi-finals.

There was to be a further twist however as with his back against the wall, Hendry opened the sixth with a break of 56 before Holt ran in-off when attempting a long red, leaving it on for the Scot to force a decider.

The early exchanges in the final frame were cagey, but as Hendry dropped in a long red and found himself on the black, there was a feeling that he was not going to miss and he duly secured an important win with a break of 70.

Not only is the win a confidence boost for Hendry and one that puts him through to the first PTC semi-final to date, but it also moves him to within just one win of an unlikely place in the PTC finals in Galway at the expense of Jack Lisowski. Having failed to qualify for the German Masters with his defeat to James Wattana late in 2011, Stephen has since shown signs of improvement with good performances against John Higgins and Ding Junhui in recent PTC events, but without being able to get the wins to back it up. Whilst he is undoubtedly not the player that he once was, he has at least shown in recent weeks that he can still be competitive to a certain level and this is further confirmation of that.

In the last four he will meet fellow Scot Stephen Maguire who overcame PTC5 winner Andrew Higginson in this evening’s other match to set up a re-match of their last 32 match at the UK Championship last month. While Higginson in truth never really got going tonight, Maguire looked to be very solid indeed and despite Hendry’s performance as described above, will begin that match as a warm favourite.

As a side-note, Maguire’s win also moves him up above Ding Junhui into the top eight of the latest projected seedings list, while he retains an outside chance of a place in the top eight of the PTC Order of Merit if he can win the event with Martin Gould not reaching the final.

In the day’s earlier matches, Joe Perry won his match with a decidedly below-par Ricky Walden, the latter recording a pot success rate of just 73%, to move into the first semi-final. As well as being an excellent result for Joe, the result also confirms that Ricky will not move back up into the top 16 at Monday’s seedings revision, meaning that Ronnie O’Sullivan will remain in the elite bracket for at least another cut-off.

He will now face Martin Gould who came through not just one, but two matches today to book his place in the last four. First he saw off David Grace in a deciding frame in the first match of the day, before again coming through 4-3 against UK Championship finalist Mark Allen in the quarter-finals. Having previously reached two PTC finals, as well as the last match of the Grand Finals in Dublin last season, will this finally be Martin’s week?

We shall find out tomorrow as the final three matches are played and the current projected seedings list is played to a conclusion.