World Championship 2010: Tournament Preview – Part Two

Following on from Monday’s preview of the top quarter of the 2010 World Championship draw, here is my assessment of the second quarter, which features former world champion Shaun Murphy and UK Championship winner Ding Junhui…

Before I get onto the matches themselves, a quick word of thanks to Jim who has provided me with the head to head statistics for each of the matches.

To view part one of my preview, please click here:


Match Five: Ali Carter (5) v Jamie Cope (18)

Having reached the final and made a 147 along the way back in 2008 Ali Carter will have be looking to go one better this time around but will have to be on his game from the off this year as he meets danger man Jamie Cope in the first round…

Head to Head

The only meeting between the pair at a ranking event came at the last 48 stage of the 2005 UK Championship qualifiers as Ali cruised to a comfortable 9-3 victory, while he also won their other clash during Group 4 of the Championship League back in 2007/8 thanks in part to a break of 125. As a result he has the advantage here, 2-0.

Crucible History


  • 2003 – R32 lost 10-5 to Paul Hunter
  • 2004 – R32 lost 10-7 to David Gray
  • 2005 – R16, lost 13-7 to Ronnie O’Sullivan
  • 2006 – R32, lost 10-8 to Stephen Lee
  • 2007 – QF, lost 13-12 to Mark Selby
  • 2008 – F, lost 18-8 to Ronnie O’Sullivan
  • 2009 – R16, lost 13-8 to Neil Robertson


  • 2008 – R32, lost 10-9 to Peter Ebdon
  • 2009 – R16, lost 13-12 to John Higgins

Season So Far

After his ultra consistent 2008/9 season which saw him win his first ranking event and reach the semi-finals of three others, Ali Carter has again performed well this season. His best result so far again came at the Welsh Open where he finished as runner-up to John Higgins, while he also made the semi-finals over in Beijing recently before losing out to Mark Williams.

Jamie Cope meanwhile has enjoyed a consistent, if not outstanding season as he has won each of his six opening round matches to leave himself on the verge of moving up into the top 16 for the first time. Unfortunately however he has not yet been able to progress beyond the last 16 of an event this season, losing at that stage of the Shanghai Masters, Grand Prix and Welsh Open.

Why Ali Will Win

Up to number three in the latest provisional rankings, it is hard to argue with Ali’s form during the last two seasons as he has established himself as one of the leading players in the game at the moment. Although he did not perform well at the Crucible last season, losing out to Neil Robertson at the last 16 stage, overall the last two years have seen Ali make considerable progress both up the rankings and as a player.

That start of that progress can be traced back to the World Championship in 2008 when he made that brilliant maximum break on the way to the final where he was defeated by Ronnie O’Sullivan. Having already reached the quarter-finals the year previously, it would certainly appear that Ali is now comfortable at the venue and could be a dark horse this year. 12 months ago having won his first major title at the Welsh Open he was touted by many as a leading contender for the title and particularly once O’Sullivan had crashed out to Mark Allen, I felt that perhaps Ali found the expectation too much to handle. This year however he seems to be flying under the radar to an extent, just as in 2008 and this could help him to produce his best snooker.

His all-round game appears to be in good shape at the moment, earlier this season he managed to pass the 100 mark on the career centuries list and his safety game is certainly competitive too. Jamie Cope meanwhile is a player who when he is at his best can give anyone a headache, just ask John Higgins. When he is not at his best however, when all of the long pots are not going in, he seems to struggle to adjust and can find himself vulnerable against top class opposition. He has also found himself vulnerable to comebacks in the big events, losing last year from 12-10 up against Higgins and then against Mark Selby at the UK Championship having led 8-4.

Jamie also has the pressure of knowing that if Peter Ebdon wins his opening match against Graeme Dott then he will have to defeat Ali if he is to finally break into the elite top 16 for the first time in his career. Having been so close on a number of occasions only to just fall short, this is an additional pressure upon Jamie that could play into Ali’s hands.

Why Jamie Will Win

Encouragingly for Jamie, this season has been probably his most consistent to date as he has won all of his opening matches and defeated top 16 players such as Joe Perry, Ryan Day and Ding Junhui along the way to put himself in contention for a top 16 place. On his day he has the ability to beat anybody and if he can perform as he did last year against Joe Perry and John Higgins, he could give Carter serious problems.

While much improved, Ali does not carry the same status, the same aura as a Ronnie O’Sullivan or John Higgins and this could  give Jamie more confidence heading into the match. While I am sure he will treat Ali with the respect that he deserves, perhaps he might believe that he can win more than if he were against one of the legends of the game.

As described above, when Jamie is on song he can prove very difficult to stop as Joe Perry found out at this event last year. If he can get on a similar roll this year and consistently make the long pots, Ali could find it difficult to find an answer.

Also Ali’s head to head advantage holds little real significance as their only ranking event meeting was way back in 2005 at Pontin’s.

My Prediction

Ali has to enter this match as a narrow favourite for me as demonstrated by his form over the past couple of seasons and he will no doubt be determined to improve on his last 16 exit in 2009. I do feel however that Jamie is due another extended run at a ranking event and given how he looked against Joe Perry and John Higgins last year, he could well shine in Sheffield again. I will be brave therefore and tip the Shotgun to cause an upset. 10-8.




Match Six: Joe Perry (12) vs Michael Holt (24)

2008 semi-finalist Joe Perry will begin his tenth campaign at the Crucible against Nottingham’s Michael Holt who has not won there since his debut against Paul Hunter back in 2005…

Head to Head

The head to head record between Joe and Michael does not make good reading for fans of the Hitman as Joe has won all four matches between the two, as well as their match at the World Mixed doubles in 2007 when he teamed up with Leah Willet to defeat Holt and Hannah Jones.

Their first meeting came at the last 16 stage of the China Open back in 2006 when Joe edged through 5-4 in a decider. He again managed to win a deciding frame at the German Open during 2007/8 before notching up further wins in the Belgian Open and most recently the third event of the recently scrapped Pro Challenge Series.

Joe therefore leads their personal duel 4-0.

Crucible History


  • 1999 – R16, lost 13-8 to Ronnie O’Sullivan
  • 2002 – R16, lost 13-7 to Peter Ebdon
  • 2003 – R32, lost 10-4 to Shaun Storey
  • 2004 – QF, lost 13-10 to Matthew Stevens
  • 2006 – R32, lost 10-3 to Ryan Day
  • 2007 – R32, lost 10-3 to Stephen Maguire
  • 2008 – SF, lost 17-15 to Ali Carter
  • 2009 – R32, lost 10-6 to Jamie Cope


  • 2005 – R16, lost 13-10 to Steve Davis
  • 2006 – R32, lost 10-8 to Peter Ebdon
  • 2007 – R32, lost 10-4 to John Higgins
  • 2009 – R32, lost 10-5 to John Higgins

Season So Far

Joe finished the 2008/9 season poorly and for the most part his struggles have continued into 2009/10, last 32 defeats in the Shanghai Masters, UK Championship and Welsh Open tournaments seeing his provisional ranking drop to 21st place. His best run came at the Grand Prix where he defeated Marcus Campbell and Barry Pinches to reach the last 16 stage while he also gained a confidence boosting victory over Tony Drago in the China Open.

Back inside the top 32, Michael has failed to hit the heights of the previous campaign this season as he has lost three of his opening round matches and failed to go beyond the last 32 of any ranking event so far. His qualifying victories came against Jamie Burnett, Dominic Dale and most recently David Morris to qualify for this match-up.

Why Joe Will Win

An experienced campaigner, Joe has recent experience of having performed well at the Crucible as he reached the semi-finals just two years ago and back in 2004 made the tournament high break of 145.

His form over the last year or so has not been the best, culminating in a dreadful display at the Wembley Masters against Ryan Day, but there have been signs recently that he might be starting to play a little better again, He was much improved at the Welsh Open where he was unfortunate to lose out to Graeme Dott before he won his opening match against Tony Drago in Beijing.

Possessing a solid all-round game, it is not all that long since Joe won the Championship League and defeated Ronnie O’Sullivan at the UK Championship in 2008 so if he is indeed gaining confidence, he could prove too strong for Michael.

Holt himself is a talented player but his record at the Crucible is not a strong one and his form this season does not suggest that he is going to improve upon it this time around. His temperament has always been questionable and if things start to go against him it would be no surprise to see him beat himself up about it.

Why Michael Will Win

Though his recent visits to the Crucible have brought about little success, it must be said that all four of his defeats have come against former world champions, and in the case of his last two to John Higgins, the eventual winner! With all due respect to Joe Perry, his achievements are not of the same level and so logic suggests that this is Michael’s best chance of a win at the venue since his debut against Paul Hunter.

Furthermore despite that win against Drago recently, Joe’s confidence is still likely to be fragile and if Michael can start well then he could begin to doubt himself again. A strong start from Holt would also mean that he is less likely to lose his head as he has been prone to do in the past, though it has to be said that mentally he has improved noticeably over the last couple of years.

My Prediction

Of all of the first round ties this year I suspect that this will be the one that many will highlight as being the scene of a potential upset, but for me he should have enough to come through against Michael and will do so…10-8.




Match Seven: Ding Junhui (13) vs Stuart Pettman (37)

Ding Junhui heads to the Crucible for the fourth time in his career and will be hoping to make it beyond the last 16 for the first time. He begins his 2010 campaign against Preston’s Stuart Pettman…

Head to Head

Ding and Stuart have met on just the one previous occasion at the 2007 Royal London Watches Grand Prix when the Chinese number one came through as a 4-2 winner. 1-0.

Crucible History


  • 2007 – R32, lost 10-2 to Ronnie O’Sullivan
  • 2008 – R16, lost 13-7 to Stephen Hendry
  • 2009 – R16, lost 13-10 to Stephen Hendry


  • 2003 – R32, lost 10-2 to Mark Williams
  • 2004 – R32, lost 10-2 to Stephen Hendry

Season So Far

The fact that Ding heads into the World Championship as number one on the one-year list tells you all you need to know about his season so far. UK champion, China Open and Grand Prix finalist, he has enjoyed the best season of his career to date and now looks to have fully recovered from his post-Masters slump that came following that infamous defeat to Ronnie O’Sullivan in the 2007 final.

Stuart meanwhile has not had a strong season, winning just two qualifying matches prior to this tournament and failing to build on what was an excellent 2008/9 season. He has however managed to gain some crucial ranking points by winning his two World Championship qualifiers and heads into the tournament provisionally ranked 35th, what would be a career best if he can finish there come the end of the event.

Why Ding Will Win

Ding enters the event as one of the form players on the tour and despite his defeat to Mark Williams in the final of the China Open, will be happy with the state of his game at the moment. His biggest strength for me is his scoring, as borne out by the nine century breaks that he made over in China and also the fact that he is the only player other than Ronnie O’Sullivan who has reached 100 tons within his first season.

Perhaps more importantly however, Ding’s temperament has been much improved during the last 12 months and for me the first real evidence of this came at the Crucible in 2009 when he recovered from 8-7 down and struggling against countryman Liang Wenbo to take the last three frames and retain his place inside the top 16. Although he lost out to Stephen Hendry in the next round, his attitude during that match was vastly improved from his defeat to Hendry in 2008 and he has now been able to improve further during 2009/10.

Also in Ding’s favour is Stuart’s rather dismal record at the Crucible, though when you take into account the calibre of the opposition that he played in both of his previous two matches it is hard to be too critical. Nevertheless the venue cannot hold too many positive memories for him and if Ding can start well then he may think back to those previous matches and get that sinking feeling again…

Why Stuart Will Win

As demonstrated during his excellent qualifying victory over Stuart Bingham at the EISS, Stuart has a strong break-building game and if he can score heavily on a consistent basis could put Ding under some pressure.

While Ding does seem to handle pressure better these days than he did during the couple of years following that defeat to O’Sullivan at the Masters, this does not mean that he has not shown signs of struggling under pressure recently, for example during his defeats to Neil Robertson and Mark Williams in finals this season have seen him miss crucial balls at crucial stages before losing fairly tamely. If Stuart could come out of the blocks quickly and apply some pressure then maybe Ding will feel the pressure again.

Having recently reached the final of the China Open, could Ding suffer from fatigue, either mental or physical? I would suggest that is is unlikely but those who perform well at the China Open do not always carry their form to Sheffield as demonstrated by Peter Ebdon last season.

Most importantly, Stuart could really do with a good win to plug his book that I have been posting extracts from on here. That could clearly be the difference between the two in this match. Really.



My Prediction

While I would love to back Stuart to pull off what would be a major upset, Ding has looked to be back to his best this season and I cannot see him failing to progress to the next round here. I do however expect Stuart to improve upon his last two showings at the Crucible and push Ding to a 10-5 victory.




Match Eight: Shaun Murphy (4) vs Gerard Greene (32)

A finalist in 2009, Shaun Murphy will be keen to go one better in 2010 and win his second world title while his opponent Gerard Greene will be looking for his first Crucible victory at the fifth time of asking…

Head to Head

Although Gerard was able to win the first match between the two players at the 2005 China Open, since then it has been all Murphy as he has recorded victories during the Malta Cup that season, the 2008 Paul Hunter Classic and perhaps most significantly, the UK Championship back in December. As a result Shaun leads 3-1.

Crucible History


  • 2002 -R32, lost 10-4 to Stephen Hendry
  • 2003 – R32, lost 10-9 to Ken Doherty
  • 2005 – WINNER, defeated Matthew Stevens 18-16
  • 2006 – QF, lost 13-7 to Peter Ebdon
  • 2007 – SF, lost 17-16 to Mark Selby
  • 2008 – R16, lost 13-4 to Ali Carter
  • 2009 – F, lost 18-9 to John Higgins


  • 1999 – R32, lost 10-2 to John Higgins
  • 2003 – R32, lost 10-3 to Peter Ebdon
  • 2005 – R32 lost 10-9 to Steve Davis
  • 2009 – R32, lost 10-5 to Ali Carter


After his run to the semi-finals of the season-opening Shanghai Masters, Shaun Murphy has struggled somewhat during the following ranking events, winning just one further match at the UK Championship in Telford. He did however manage to win the Matchroom Premier League for the first time, ending the dominance that Ronnie O’Sullivan had exerted over the tournament in recent years.

Back inside the top 32, Gerard has consistently won his opening qualifying match this season but as yet has been unable to progress any further, losing at the last 32 stage of four of the five ranking events so far.

Why Shaun Will Win

A finalist here last season, a former world champion and a former UK Champion, Shaun is a player who excels during the longer frame matches and has not lost at the last 32 of this event since back in 2003. His record at the Crucible since winning the tournament back in 2005 is excellent and there are few players who have matched his consistency at the venue during the past few seasons.

Although Shaun has not enjoyed the best run of results recently, he entered the 2008 UK Championship on the back of a similar run of defeats and finished it with his hands on the trophy, demonstrating once again that while form is temporary, class is permanent.

While Shaun’s record at the Crucible is excellent, Gerard’s is not as he has lost all four of his matches at the venue to date, three of them comfortably. Combined with the fact that he has lost all four of his other matches at the last 32 stage this season it would appear that Gerard is not as comfortable in front of the cameras as inside a Prestatyn cubicle and it is a tough ask to expect him to turn things around against the world number three at the biggest tournament on the calendar.

Finally Shaun does have a good record against Gerard, particularly having beaten him 9-5 this season at the UK Championship in Telford over a similar distance.

Why Gerard Will Win

Although on paper his defeat to Ali Carter at the same stage of last season’s tournament appears to have been a one-sided match, in reality Ali did not play at his best and could quite easily have lost two of the frames that he won during the second session. Had he done so then the scoreline would have stood at 8-7 and who knows what might have happened. If Shaun also struggles early on, as he did last year against Andrew Higginson then perhaps Gerard could spring a surprise…

While Higginson was making his debut at the Crucible and could not take advantage however, Gerard has at least got experience of having played at the venue before and will know what to expect. Perhaps this will help him to settle down early on and if the chance arises, he could put Shaun under pressure

My Prediction

Again however, while a win for Gerard is not out of the question, his Crucible record is something that does count against him for me and I would expect Murphy to come through relatively unscathed, 10-5.

Check back soon for Part Three…