Premier League Snooker 2008: Night Seven Preview

Premier League Snooker – Night Seven from the Newport Centre SkySports1, 7:30pm

Joe Perry v Ding Junhui

Steve Davis v Stephen Hendry

Night seven of the Premier League already, can’t believe how quickly the season has gone so far. It should be an interesting week as the two greatest players to have played the game, Stephen Hendry and Steve Davis clash in Newport in a must-win match for both players. Before that though there is the match between the in-form Joe Perry and the recent World Series (Warsaw) winner Ding Junhui

Match One: Joe Perry v Ding Junhui

Joe Perry comes into the evening knowing that a win here will most likely secure his place in the play-offs next month in Hopton. His form in the event has been pretty flawless so far, defeating the four-times world champion Ronnie O’Sullivan 4-2 on his debut, before beating legends Stephen Hendry and Steve Davis at the expense of only three frames to maintain his 100% record. With Mark Selby drawing with O’Sullivan last week, Joe now has the chance to go top of the league with eight points and the way he is playing you cannot say that he wouldn’t deserve it.

That said, it will not be easy at all against Chinese number one Ding Junhui who just recently has started to show glimpses of the form that took him to the UK Championship title in 2005. While he isn’t quite there yet, he did look more solid in the Grand Prix before losing out to eventual winner John Higgins, as well as deservedly winning the latest leg of the World Series in Warsaw. Tonight will be his biggest test since then though and it will be interesting to see how he handles the occasion as with only one point from his two matches so far, he could really do with a win.

I’m having a bit of a nightmare with my predictions recently but I’ll stick at it and go for a draw in this match. Perry is probably playing the better snooker at the moment but I just fancy Ding to keep him honest…

Match Two: Stephen Hendry v Steve Davis

The second match of the night sees the legends that are Stephen Henry and Steve Davis meet once again in a match that both absolutely must win.

For Stephen last week’s result against John Higgins means that he still has a fighting chance of making the play-offs if he can win a few more matches, though I suspect it will be his improved performance that will have given him the most pleasure that evening. For the first time all season he looked generally very solid and didn’t really miss any easy balls, so he will be hoping to build on that with another win tonight going into Bahrain next week.

Davis meanwhile can only get better having lost his last two league matches 6-0 to Mark Selby and Ronnie O’Sullivan. His chances of qualification are now slim but to give himself any chance at all he really could do with another win over his old rival who he last beat in this competition two years ago, though Hendry won their match last season. It will be interesting to see whether he sticks with the ultra-conservative break-off that he has employed so far this season, or whether he reverts back to a more traditional break-off as he did at the end of his match with O’Sullivan. The fact that on that occasion O’Sullivan immediately knocked a long red in and won the frame from it suggests to me that it might be the cautious approach that we see again!

Hendry will be favourite but with his own form not being particularly great, last week aside, I can see this being a close match if Davis plays like he has done on the ranking circuit recently. Stephen to edge it 4-2 though I think with his superior break building right now.