Premier League Snooker 2009: Week One Review

The first night of the 2009 Premier League has now been completed and it was the defending champion Ronnie O’Sullivan who showed the rest of the field what they will have to do to dethrone him with an ominous performance…

Match One: Neil Robertson 4-2 Judd Trump

Having failed to win any of his six previous Premier League matches in 2007, Neil Robertson will be both delighted and relieved to have won at the first attempt this time around with a 4-2 victory over 20-year-old Judd Trump tonight.

Playing in the Premier League for the first time, Judd could have been forgiven for making a slow start but he instead wasted little time in showing what a fine break builder his is with a total clearance of 139. The balls may have been nicely spread but it took a nice initial red to start the break and will have given Neil food for thought.

The Australian however soon showed that he is in pretty good shape himself, levelling the match with a break of 80 before taking what proved to be a pivotal third frame. It was Judd who got in with the first chance and looked good to move back into the lead but a kick on 62 let Neil in to make a brilliant clearance of 66 and steal the frame.

From there Neil went from strength to strength, securing a point with a break of 58 before claiming the second with 89 in the penultimate frame. Frame six was by far the scrappiest of the match and with Neil obviously relaxing a little, Judd gave himself a good chance to take it before missing the final green. He soon gained a reprieve however when he fluked it from one corner pocket to another and added brown and blue to give himself another £1,000 bonus.

A good evening for both overall, Neil looking in excellent shape and assuming he can acclimatise to the conditions over in China, will be a serious contender, while Judd also did not look out of place. Next up for Neil in the league will be a clash with Stephen Hendry in Southampton on September 24th, while Judd also has Hendry next, a week earlier at the Malvern Theatre.

Neil Robertson 4-2 Judd Trump

0-139(139), 80(80)-7, 66(66c)-62(62), 72(58)-0, 89(89)-8, 34-75

Match Two: Ronnie O’Sullivan 4-2 Marco Fu

He might have been using yet another new cue tonight but it was business as usual for the five-time defending champion as Ronnie O’Sullivan knocked in three straight centuries to see off one of his bogey players, Marco Fu.

Strangely enough O’Sullivan actually looked pretty shaky early on as he missed a couple of reds down the cushion in the opening frame, allowing Marco to move into the lead with a break of 44. Following a safety exchange in the second frame however, Ronnie knocked a brilliant red into one of the middle pockets and levelled the match with a break of 49, which could have been a lot more but for a strange miss on the blue once the frame was won.

In frame three it looked like Marco would have an immediate chance to get back into the lead as Ronnie got his break-off shot completely wrong, bringing a red over to the green pocket. Luckily for him however he managed to cover this with a colour leaving Marco to take on a long red which he would cue and therefore miss badly.

This proved to be costly as from then on Ronnie seemed to spark into life, going into the lead with a flawless total clearance of 136. A break of 106 in frame four then guaranteed him a point before a third straight century confirmed his win in frame five.

Marco to his credit kept his concentration and almost finished with a century himself, eventually missing a red to the centre on 83, but he had at least done enough to get another frame on the board.

So it is another ominous start from Ronnie and you really have to wonder when he will be stopped in this competition if he can play like that with yet another new cue. In his interview with SkySports’ Andy Goldstein after the match he said that he was still not happy with it and is surprised that he still has not found a cue to his liking, as indeed am I. Not for the first time he was rather critical of his own performance but he certainly in good shape when in amongst the balls to me.

Marco on the other hand made a few errors and clearly had not adjusted to the shot clock. After a frame his average shot time apparently stood at around 24 seconds, coming down to 22 by the end of the match which when playing under a 25 second shot clock is cutting it fine. Hopefully he will be able to adapt for his next match, he should be able to as he has topped the league table before when playing with the 25 second rule in place.

Next up for Ronnie in the competition is what is sure to be a noisy clash with Neil Robertson in Colchester on October 1, while Marco will be in action against John Higgins in Southampton.

Ronnie O’Sullivan 4-2 Marco Fu

27-71, 66(49)-4, 133(133tc)-4, 115(106)-6, 135(131)-0, 0-83(83)