Crucible Diary 2010: Day Four Blog

Day four already and today saw the world number one Ronnie O’Sullivan book his place in the last 16 while fellow title contenders Neil Robertson and Ding Junhui also put one foot in the second round. Click below from my Sheffield report…

Cutting it somewhat fine today as I parked my car at 9:55am, I quickly made my way to the Crucible to take my seat for the start of the first session between Ding Junhui and Stuart Pettman. While I am a fan of Ding and would like to see him finally go on a run at this tournament, over the last few months I have obviously worked with Stuart and other members of the Pettman camp with his upcoming book and was hoping to see him come cause something of a shock this morning.

Unfortunately for Stuart however he had one of those sessions where everything seemed to go wrong while Ding, without looking to be at his best, was reasonably solid and took full advantage of the errors from his opponent. At the very start of the match it looked like Stuart was in good shape, indeed his game is one that is quite easy on the eye and attractive to watch, but unfortunately the errors (and a few kicks), began to creep in.

Stuart Pettman about to come in

A big frame was the fourth just before the interval as the man from Preston was in on a break of 51 and looking good to get himself back into the match at 1-3, but a positional shot was to go wrong as he nudged a red and finished up unable to pot it. Ding’s response was an excellent break of 77 to punish him and at 4-0 already Stuart found himself with a mountain to climb.

To Stuart’s credit I was impressed with his attitude as although he was slipping further and further behind in the match, he noticeably stuck to his aggressive game and did not shy away from taking on the difficult long balls. In fact the strange thing was, he actually seemed to pot the vast majority of these before missing a more straightforward ball down the cushion a couple of shots later to let Ding back in.

As far as the UK Champion was concerned, although he was not at his best, he did improve as the session went on and you could sense that he was taking confidence from the fact that Stuart was for the most part unable to punish any errors that he was making. Having had to battle for each of his two wins at the Crucible in the past, it must have been a new experience for him to be able to open up a big lead this time!

Mark Davis enters the arena

The only other thing to note from that match as far as I was concerned is that after four days my World Snooker radio finally gave up, actually quite impressive for me. Nobody else seems to have any problems but mine seem to break every other day, I think that I clearly must be cursed.

Meanwhile over on Table Two, Ryan Day and Mark Davis looked to be playing out a high quality session of snooker which finished up with the scoreline standing at 5-4 to the qualifier. Having had the best season of his career to date it would cap things off nicely if he were to go on a run here and cause an upset or two.

In the short period of time between the morning and afternoon sessions I noticed Martin Gould hanging around outside the Crucible whilst Stephen Hendry and Mark Williams were also out and about together, unsurprisingly. Following a relatively quiet Monday, the sun was back out today and with it the fans as they were all in town presumably to see O’Sullivan conclude his match against Liang Wenbo.

View from Row A

I though was over on the other side of the curtain, watching the start of Neil Robertson v Fergal O’Brien from the front row no less. Back at the Crucible for the first time in a couple of years, Fergal got off to a good start by taking the opening frame, but soon found himself 3-1 down at the interval, though he was unfortunate to do so given how he had played, crucially suffering from a couple of kicks in the frame just before the mid-session interval.

It was the frame the other side of the interval which was to be the most significant however as having made a break of 50, Fergal was to let Neil back in to take a 4-1 lead which in truth had flattered Neil to a degree. In frame six Fergal began to lose his way and fell 5-1 behind, though he used his experience well from there to close back to a couple of frames behind with one left to play in the session. At this point I scarpered from the arena to give Ryan my ticket so he could have a frame on the front row, but with Neil responding with an excellent century break to secure a 6-3 overnight lead I was not to miss a great deal of snooker.

With not having a ticket for the evening session I chose not to stay around past 7pm and headed back onto the M18 for home. As far as meeting players is concerned I had an unusually quiet day, though it was an entertaining one nonetheless. I’m in for all three sessions tomorrow so it could be a long day…