Tuesday evening at the Masters and following that dramatic start to the tournament on Sunday with Neil Robertson’s comeback win against Ding Junhui, the event has continued to capture the imagination, with victories for John Higgins, Graeme Dott, Judd Trump and Shaun Murphy since…
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Having seen last year’s winner come back from 5-3 down to progress in the opening match of the event, world number two Judd Trump today emulated that achievement against Barry Hawkins, taking the last three frames to keep his bid for a first Masters title alive.
At 3-2 behind, Barry Hawkins hit breaks of 109, 85 and 61 to move just one frame away from victory, however as was the case with Robertson before him, the best was yet to come from Judd, a break of 105 reducing the deficit to a single frame, before he potted blue and pink to force a decider.
Often final frame finishes can be scrappy, tight affairs, but following a poor break-off from Hawkins, he was not to come back to the table as a nerveless Trump made his second ton in three frames to close out victory.
While his unusual and somewhat expensive footwear might well grab the headlines tomorrow, he will just be pleased to still be competing at what he would describe as the perfect venue for a little longer this week.
Next up for him will be a clash with Graeme Dott, who himself came through a decider last night against fellow Scot Stephen Maguire. A topsy-turvy match, as a frustrated Maguire conceded the eighth frame with plenty of points still available, it looked as though there would only be one winner, but the concession seemed to reinvigorate Maguire, who soon levelled with breaks of 56 and 131.
Coming down to the colours however, a tight finish was always likely to favour the 2006 world champion and so it proved, as Graeme potted the balls he needed to earn a confidence-boosting win on the BBC, after poor performances at the UK And World Championship events in 2012.
Elsewhere, John Higgins recovered from a slow start against Ali Carter to reaffirm his strong record against the Captain with a 6-3 win yesterday afternoon. A player who never seemed to take to the old Wembley Arena, Higgins looks much more at home at the Alexandra Palace and will take some shifting this week in the tournament.
Next up for the two-time champion will be 2012 runner-up Shaun Murphy, who survived a comeback from a previously out of sorts Ricky Walden to come through a 6-4 winner tonight.
As Ricky struggled, in particular with his safety and his break-off shots for long periods of the match, Murphy hit a flawless total clearance of 130 to lead 4-1 and put one foot into the quarter-finals. Having missed a chance to extend his advantage further in the next frame however, Ricky suddenly began to show the sort of form that took him to the Wuxi Classic title earlier in the season and eventually levelled at 4-4, to reduce the match effectively to a best of three.
Despite having lost the previous three frames however, Shaun nevertheless looked the more likely player to come through and soon steadied the ship, taking the next two frames to secure victory and a shot at Higgins in a repeat of their semi-final encounter last year, which the 2005 world champion won 6-4.
All in all then, a fantastic start to a tournament so far which appears to have caught the imagination of the public as much as any event for some time and with victories for five of the six top seeds so far, is one that should only get better as the week continues.
Tomorrow we will see the last of the first round matches played to a conclusion as Mark Selby takes on Stuart Bingham, while Welsh duo Mark Williams and Matthew Stevens will also collide in a repeat of the 2000 World Championship final.