Wuxi Classic 2012: Maiden Semis For Campbell, Davis

And then there were four. Today saw the completion of the quarter-finals in Wuxi and on paper at least, it was another day of shocks as two of the world’s top three ranked players bowed out of the tournament…

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It has been a long time coming for Marcus Campbell, but today the Scot was able to reach the semi-finals of a full-ranking event tournament for the first time with a 5-3 victory against two-time world champion Mark Williams.

Having taken the initiative early on to lead 3-1 at the interval, Marcus was pegged back to 3-3 by his opponent before winning the next two with a top break of 60 to secure a terrific win.

Marcus told World Snooker:

“Over the last little while I’ve been feeling good with myself and feel that I can actually do something,”

“I’ve believed that for probably the last year and a half. I felt I deserved to be at least 3-1 up, could have been 4-0, I was feeling great and then reality started to kick-in and I started to feel a bit nervous. Fortunately for me Mark missed a couple of balls but conditions got a bit tough there, it started playing a bit heavy. It became a bit of a battle in the end. But I’m really chuffed to get to this, my first ranking semi-final and I’ve been a pro for 21 years. I’m so happy.”

“Ricky’s a good friend of mine. I think we’ve played a couple of times, but not recently. I’m really looking forward to it. I’m just going to go out and enjoy it and continue to, hopefully, get over the line the way I’ve been getting over the line. But I’m really looking forward to playing Ricky, he’s a good friend so the game will be played in a lovely manner.”

“I won a PTC two years ago where I had to play four best-of-sevens in the final day, which was pretty hard. So that won’t pose any problems, playing long hours on the table. That’s what we do, so if it develops into a battle, I’ll certainly be there until the end.”

Having been a professional since 1991, from 1999 to 2011 Marcus was never able to rise higher than 40th in the rankings, at once stage dipping as low as 63. In many ways therefore, his form not just this week, but over the past couple of seasons has been remarkable. In that time Marcus has not only won his first professional title at the 2010 EPTC3 tournament, but he has established himself as a regular at the major televised venues and firmly cemented his place among the world’s top 32 as he approaches his 40th birthday.

But can he go further still this week in Wuxi? As Marcus explained above, standing in his way will be Ricky Walden, who fresh from his near-disaster against Joe Perry the previous day was able to see off Gloucester’s Robert Milkins today 5-3.

Having come back from 3-1 down to win against Judd Trump in the previous round, this time Milkins was to find himself on the wrong end of the comeback as Walden won the last four frames of their quarter-final today to advance to the semi-finals of a full-ranking event tournament for the first time since the UK Championship last December.

Ricky told World Snooker:

“Last night’s match was a lucky escape in the end,”

“I felt lucky to be out there today and I’m glad I played well in the second half of the game and I’m delighted to still be in the tournament.

“I started off poorly, I was all at sea with my safety shots and Rob had the pace of the table early on and played much better than me in the first four frames. After the interval I settled down a bit, Rob missed a few and there was a topsy-turvy frame to go 3-3, it could have easily gone 4-2. After that I finished off the match pretty strongly and played well in the end so I’m happy.

“It’s going to be a tough game,”

“Marcus is a really tough match player. He’s been around a long time and has got a lot of experience so I’m going to have to be on the top of my game if I’m going to come through that one. I’m just looking forward to getting out there and hopefully I can do the business.”

In the other half of the draw meanwhile, Mark Davis joined Marcus Campbell in reaching the semi-finals of a full-ranking event for the first time in his 19-year-career with a resounding 5-0 victory against Scotland’s Graeme Dott.

Much of what I have said with regard to Marcus above can be applied to Mark, but for me his achievement is perhaps even greater in light of the disappointment that he must have felt at having come so close to breaking through into the world’s top 16 at one of the cut-off points last season, without ever having made it. Even for this tournament he was again just to miss out on a seeding as although two players were not to enter, ranked 19th, Mark was still just one place away from earning a place at the venue as of right!

Despite that however, Mark has (publicly at least), stressed that he has never thought about this too much and has continued to produce the form that put him up into contention for a top 16 in the first place. I must admit that with a considerable amount of points to defend for the foreseeable future, I had wondered whether Mark just might have missed the boat as far as a top 16 place is concerned, but the points earned from this run alone will ensure that (form permitting), he should remain there or thereabouts for a while yet.

Next up for him in this tournament meanwhile will be SightRightUK stablemate Stuart Bingham, who continued his recent winning streak with a 5-4 victory against world number one Mark Selby today. Following his defeat to Davis, Graeme Dott suggested that there have been a lot of shocks due to it being early in the season and the fact that there are players who have not practised as much as they should have, but that certainly cannot apply to Stuart who looks razor-sharp at the moment and will surely be the favourite to take him the title now.

Given the number of favourites who have lost so far this week however, nothing can be discounted at this stage…

Click here to read the thoughts of both Mark and Stuart at World Snooker.