Wembley Masters 2009: Day Three Reports

Just two matches today but if the first is anything to go by then it looks like the crowd will be getting full value for money.  Click below to read more…

John Higgins 6-4 Marco Fu

Twice Masters champion John Higgins moved into the last eight of the 2009 event with a hard-fought win over the determined Marco Fu this afternoon.

A scrappy first frame looked like it might be heading the way of Marco Fu but a poor missed red to the right-centre gave John Higgins the opportunity to make what was a very tidy clearance. The shot from the final black to yellow in particular was exquisite and this form continued in the next when he doubled his lead with an excellent 140, the highest break of the tournament so far.

The next two frames were both long, drawn-out affairs but crucially for Marco Fu he managed to win both to level it up at the interval. Frame four in particular though was quite amazing as having made  a 67 break to lead 71-0, it looked for all the world that Higgins would lead at the break, but a missed pink gave Marco the encouragement to play for the snooker he needed to tie.

As Marco potted all of the reds with blacks, John was visibly looking a little edgy and when he potted the final brown only to go off in the middle pocket, he was horrified as Marco took the frame to a respot. Winning the toss, Fu put Higgins in first and having seen himself let slip a 71 point lead, his frustration got the better of him as he tried to double the red in with his first three shots, missing each time. Eventually Marco potted the black he needed and brought a fascinating frame to an end.

John’s fortunes did not look to be getting any better after the interval as having found himself in a good position to re-take the lead, he got a horrible kick on a black to the right-centre and Fu cleared to lead for the first time. John’s frustration was pretty evident in his shot selection in frame six and as Marco moved 4-2 in front with a 77 break, the match had turned right around.

Higgins though is not a twice-winner of the Masters for nothing and began his own recovery, starting with a top class clearance of 59 in frame seven to keep himself alive. Minutes later he was level with a 69 and soon moved back in front following another scrappy frame.

This match though looked to have a decider written all over it and Marco looked to have forced it when he left Higgins needing a snooker in frame ten. Remarkably though having put Fu in a tricky situation, Higgins got the points he needed when Fu went in-off in the right-centre.

Higgins cleared up to the pink but having left it awkward, just missed it and left it hanging near the pocket for Marco who attempted to knock it in off the cushion. Unfortunately for him however he missed it and Higgins pulled out a terrific shot to leave himself needing just the black for a spot in the quarter-finals. Though he missed it to the intended pocket, he fluked it in the opposite one and finished off what was an intriguing match all round.

It was a strange match but one that I think John deserved to win, he looked the more fluent when in and statistically held the upper hand in every department. Marco like in the UK final did not play at his best but he is such a good match player that he still came so close to winning the match, indeed not many players could have won that fourth frame the way he did.

Next up for John will be Ding Junhui who he defeated last month in Telford while Marco will have to wait until the Welsh Open for a return to competitive action…

John Higgins 6-4 Marco Fu 70(39)-43(33), 140(140)-0, 52(41)-81, 71(67)-78(re-spotted black), 28(28)-71(65), 2-77(77), 76(59)-44, 69(69)-0, 54-21, 63(fluked black)-52(37)

Mark Allen 6-1 Ryan Day

If the first match of the day was slow then this was anything but as the players rattled through the first four frames in under an hour.

Ryan Day made the better start, taking the opener in under 10 minutes with a 62 break but Mark Allen hit straight back to lead 2-1 in no time with runs of 53 and 45. The fourth frame was just as quick but crucially went the way of Allen after Day missed a straightforward black off the spot and wasted a glorious chance to level at the interval.

Allen continued to push on after the break with a clearance of 119 and in frame six made it 5-1 with breaks of 54 and 61. With his pot success at 96% and his safety success at 94% at this stage, it was near flawless stuff and Ryan Day just had no answer. The last frame was a closer, but ultimately Allen’s superb potting pulled him through and secured a well-deserved win.

Without doubt the performance of the week, if Allen can keep that up then he will be very hard to stop…

Ryan Day 1-6 Mark Allen 86(62)-0, 49(38)-75(53), 0-66(45), 45(45)-85(61c), 7-124(119), 1-115(54,61), 7-81(36)