Ten questions to be answered in Telford

This week marks the halfway point of the 2009/10 season and with so much at stake this week, there are many questions to be answered…

  1. How will world number one Ronnie O’Sullivan bounce back having lost his Premier League crown to Shaun Murphy last weekend in Potters? Will it affect him at all or will it be business as usual for the four-time UK Champion?
  2. On a similar note, how will that victory affect Shaun Murphy? The format of the event may not have been the norm with the 25 second shot clock in place, but his consecutive victories against for me the two best players in the world last weekend were very impressive and it will be interesting to see if he can repeat them over a longer format should they meet again in Telford.
  3. How will Stephen Maguire cope following the death of his grandfather during the previous week? It would be perfectly understandable if he went out early but you never know, perhaps he will be inspired and go on a much-needed run this week.
  4. Can Mark Selby find his form and lift himself up from what is a lowly position of 15th in the latest provisional rankings? Like Matthew Stevens in the past, Mark seems to be at his best over the longer frame matches and having looked so impressive at the Crucible earlier this year, could pose a real threat. Jamie Cope in the first round will be far from straightforward however…
  5. Who will win the clash of the legends? Hendry v Davis is an iconic tie in this competition and it is nice that we will be able to see them face each other one more time. Steve has not been in great form recently but he has been practising more than he has for a while and played well enough to defeat Michael Judge in qualifying last week. Stephen meanwhile is not on top of his game, but he has won his opening match in his last four tournaments and will be hoping to make it five…
  6. Can Graeme Dott or Mark Williams go on a run here? They face each other in the first round this week and both recovering from a couple of seasons in the wilderness, perhaps this is the time for one of them to really announce their return to the big time with a run to the semi-finals or better.
  7. Will chairman in waiting Barry Hearn make his presence felt and be there to hand over the trophy?
  8. How will the crowds be following a disappointing start to the Grand Prix in Glasgow as far as ticket sales were concerned? Will Jimmy White’s third place finish in I’m a Celebrity help in any way?
  9. How will Peter Lines fare on his return to a venue? It has been eight years since he made it this far in a ranking event but possibly in the form of his life with a tie against the badly out of sorts Marco Fu, perhaps he could be one to watch.
  10. Will an orange and black Pukka Pies set look any better than I am imagining?