Grand Prix 2009: Brilliant King reigns in Glasgow

Mark King has completed a fantastic comeback in the final frame to defeat Ricky Walden 5-4 tonight and book his place in the last 16. Click below to read about that and the ongoing match between Stephen Maguire and Nigel Bond.

Click here to see how the results have affected the provisional rankings.

Mark King 5-4 Ricky Walden

60-79, 73(73)-1, 33-70(66), 23-70(54), 88(46)-0, 74(74)-54(53), 68-0, 0-90(75), 66-65

At 3-1 down and needing three snookers in the decider, world number 16 Mark King looked down and out but he fought back magnificently to clich a victory that obviously meant a lot to him.

Indeed he was not playing too badly early on as he made a break of 73 as well as a couple in the 40’s, but he could not quite make his chances count and Ricky punished him with runs of 66 and 54 to lead at the break.

Back came King when they resumed however with more solid scoring to go into the lead at 4-3 before Ricky forced a decider with a cool 75.

And what a decider it was as first Ricky got in and opened up a lead of around 35 points before Mark came to the table and brought the scores level. With just two reds left a long tactical battle ensued and thanks both to some good play and a fair bit of luck, Ricky looked to have put the match beyond doubt as he moved into a 65-34 lead with just four balls left on the table, leaving Mark needing three snookers.

Even when Ricky missed a relatively simple one cushion escape from behind the black he was still in a commanding position but Mark was looking focused and having had this encouragement, knocked in a nice long brown and blue to leave himself needing just one snooker to win. This he duly got and as Walden sent the cue ball into the yellow pocket off one cushion, suddenly the match was back in the balance again.

The real drama was still to come however as having forced an error from Ricky, Mark left himself a horrible match-ball black, think back to the one that Stephen Hendry had for his first Crucible 147 back in 1995. Just like Hendry there was real pressure on it but he committed to it and played it brilliantly to secure what was a brilliant win.

Having reached the last 16 of eight of his last 11 ranking event tournaments without ever making the quarter-finals, Mark will be hoping that this spectacular win will prove to be the catalyst for greater things this week. With a tie against Robert Milkins to come you can be sure that he will be quietly confident…

Stephen Maguire 5-3 Nigel Bond

77(66)-49(49), 44-90(66), 35-71(35,36), 8-122(60,62), 68(59)-31, 63(37)-37, 61-51, 73(49)-50(50)

Another player to recover from 3-1 down tonight was world number two Stephen Maguire in what was an entertaining match between himself and Nigel Bond with plenty of good tactical play on show.

It was a strange match in which every frame seemed to come down to the colours and this began in the first when having gone 66-0 ahead, Maguire looked like losing it to a clearance from Bond. Stephen’s blushes were spared though as Nigel suffered a kick on the final blue and lost the frame as a result.

Bond however, a former world finalist of course, was not deterred by this and managed to level the match in the next frame following a missed yellow from Maguire before a series of nice breaks ensured that he would go into the interval with a 3-1 lead. At this point he had a pot success percentage of 97% and had he maintained this form would have been very hard to stop.

Alas for Nigel he couldn’t as understandably he began to tighten up against his higher ranked opponent. He did however play his part in a riveting sixth frame which saw a 20 minute safety battle on the final yellow as he looked to go 4-2 up and one away from victory. Unfortunately though he managed to pot the yellow, it was Maguire who managed to take the frame with a terrific brown to left centre from tight on the cushion and having levelled at 3-3 was now a firm favourite to go on and complete victory.

Nigel continued to have his chances in the following two frames but his missed red in the eighth summed up how the match had unfolded for him as he hedged his bets with position and ultimately was not to get back to the table again.

This is an excellent win for Stephen from behind as in the past he might well have wilted in such a position, certainly last year as he did against Jamie Cope in this tournament. Now through to the last 16 hopefully he will be able to relax and get some points on the board as following his Shanghai withdrawal he finds himself down in 7th place provisionally. More importantly however he will be hoping to put on a show in front of his home crowd and hopefully bring home his first trophy since the 2008 China Open.