China Open 2009: Scots fall as Ebdon and Pettman progress

So hands up who would have predicted a semi-final between Peter Ebdon and Stuart Pettman at the start of the week? Click below to read how their matches, as well as those later on in the day…

Afternoon Session


Stephen Hendry 1-5 Peter Ebdon
0-109(64,45), 45(45)-77(76), 51-67(51), 0-88(88), 129(129)-1, 9-80(39)
Stuart Pettman 5-2 Graeme Dott
73(44)-26, 76-18, 118(93)-6, 71(48)-65, 45-74(45), 37-73(42), 68(40)-5

Peter Ebdon might have struggled recently but in seeing off old rival Stephen Hendry with a 5-1 victory today, you would never have guessed it. In frame one he restricted Stephen to just two shots, his break-off and a terribly tough long-red as Peter took the frame largely thanks to a run of 64. Frame two allowed Stephen to get his hand on the table a bit more at least, but every time he came to the table he seemed to be right in trouble as Peter’s safety play kept him under pressure until he eventually won it with a run of 76.

Frame three saw Stephen finally presented with his first big opportunity to score points but when he missed a tricky red to the left-centre, it started to look like it would not to be his day and eventually Peter recovered to steal it on the colours, before going 4-0 ahead with an 88 break in the next. Stephen did show in the next frame with a break of 129 that he was not playing too badly but it was only going to delay the inevitable and Peter took the win in frame six with a run of 39.

Fair play to Peter, I have not seen much of him this season apart from his terrible showing in the Chamionship League and given how his results have been on paper, I was not expecting him to play as well as he did. He really looked like his old self out there and if he can maintain this form could well go on to take his first ranking event title since 2006 when he also defeated Hendry in the UK Championship final.  This result is also significant for his ranking as it means that he moves up two places to 14th provisionally, pushing Ding down to 15th and Barry Hawkins to 16th.

For Stephen it is obviously a bad result but in truth I have seen him play a lot worse this season than he did today, Peter was just too good on the day. The only real worry I would have for Hendry is that his long-potting was absolutely nowhere, he was not even getting them in the jaws and this will have to improve if he is to beat Mark Williams at the Crucible. Still, his quarter-final run should at least ensure that he stays in the top 16 for another season and gives his one-year ranking a lift which could be crucial in a year’s time.

In the first semi-final Peter will play this week’s surprise package Stuart Pettman who has continued his remarkable run with a 5-2 win over 2006 world champion Graeme Dott. Having seen Stuart go 4-0 ahead, Graeme took the first two frames after the interval as he looked to repeat the feat of John Higgins the other day and win the match from that position. Stuart was not to be denied though and the man from Preston will now contest his first ranking event semi-final after so many years as a professional.

It really is an amazing run for Stuart and you can read more about him here at Snooker Scene Blog. In terms of his ranking this result will not make much of a difference, he will still be in the 32-48 bracket. It does however take him up into the top 32 on the one-year list, exceptional when you consider that he is currently ranked 62nd. Still I doubt that he will care too much about that at the moment, he will just be so happy to be in the semi-finals.

For Graeme it is a disappointing way for his tournament to end and he will now go into the World Championship needing to beat Barry Hawkins to stay in the top 32 for next season. Even with today’s loss though, he is playing much better than he has been for a while and it would not surprise me at all to see him go on a good run in Sheffield.

Evening Session


Shaun Murphy 0-5 Ryan Day
0-101(31,38), 46(39)-62(54), 14-98(49.49), 22-89(52), 49(49)-83(83)
John Higgins 5-4 Ronnie O’Sullivan
25-97(97), 83(55)-1, 73(73)-27, 91(75)-16, 62(62)-63(36), 15-66(66), 64(44)-40, 11-55, 71(38)-22

Ryan Day has become the third player to reach the semi-finals after an emphatic 5-0 whitewash of UK Champion Shaun Murphy. Coming into the tournament on the back of a few dodgy results recently I have been impressed with Ryan’s results this week and he is reminding everybody why he was up in third on the provisional list earlier on this season. He seems to like China too, having reached the final in Shanghai a couple of seasons ago and performed well here in Beijing last season before going down to eventual champion Stephen Maguire. Next up will be either John Higgins or Ronnie O’Sullivan who are still battling it out in the other quarter-final.

For Shaun Murphy it is obviously another poor result and a surprising one given how he performed against Neil Robertson yesterday. For whatever reason apart from that victory in Telford, it has been an underwhelming season for Shaun and he will need to up his game at the Crucible if he is to remain third in the rankings for next season, never mind win his second world title.

As anticipated, the clash between John Higgins and Ronnie O’Sullivan proved to be the match of the tournament and it was John who came out on top in the deciding frame.

The standard before the interval was excellent, Ronnie opening with 97 before just starting to make a few errors which John capitalised on with runs of 75, 73 and 55 to lead at the break. The first frame after the interval was probably the most dramatic of the match though as with it looking for all the world that Higgins would lead 4-1, he missed a frame ball black and gave Ronnie a chance to steal it. Though O’Sullivan eventually missed a difficult yellow and left it on for John, a heavy kick gave Ronnie another chance which he took in some style to reduce the deficit to 2-3.

At this point I made Ronnie the favourite and with Higgins clearly struggling in the next frame, he soon made it 3-3 in no time with a break of 66. Ronnie though was still not at 100% and as the next two frames were shared, we were faced with a hard to call deciding frame. The first chance went to John but having failed to split the reds on around 38, O’Sullivan had a chance to counter. As it turned out the rest of the frame was full of errors, but in the end having potted a great long red, Ronnie missed the subsequent black off the spot and that was to prove decisive, John potting the last few reds and colours that he needed to book his semi-final place.

It was a strange end to the match but well done to John for proving me wrong and managing to hang on having blown the fifth frame in the manner than he did. Though he was certainly helped out by Ronnie’s misses, he showed once again how resilient he can be and how good he is at winning when not at his best. His next match against Ryan Day should now be very interesting and one that I would not like to predict.

For Ronnie it is a shame to go out but despite a few flashes of brilliance such as the first frame and the clearance in frame five, he did make more errors and the better player probably just won. Still a quarter-final is a decent enough result for him and I suspect that it will all be about the World Championship now.

Incidentally I was shocked to hear in commentary that Ronnie has still not beaten John in a ranking event since the 2003 Irish Masters final, a remarkable run really when you consider how strong a player Ronnie is. It also shows you just what John Higgins is made of though…