World Open 2010: Day One As It Unfolds

Rankings updated throughout the day…

So here we are, day one of the World Open as the first five matches of the televised stages are played at the shiny new set in Glasgow. Click below for the order of play and updates from today, although more regular observations will be posted on my Twitter page…

Saturday 18th September 2010

Neil Robertson v Graeme Dott
Ali Carter v Thepchaiya Un-Nooh
Stephen Maguire v Stuart Pettman

Not before 7:00pm
Steve Davis v Peter Ebdon
Shaun Murphy v Dave Harold

Neil Robertson v Graeme Dott

Well, the players are introduced and the match is underway in what is a very stylish new set, featuring lit up sides, metal panels and little monitors behind the players seats. The man who usually has to stick on the labels with the players names on every session will be out of a job then. All in all though the set does look a lot more impressive than those usually used at the British ranking events, though the crowd is not the biggest I have ever seen…

First half-chance falls to Graeme Dott but he was reluctant to take it on and as it turned out, rightly so as he has left Neil with with a fabulous opportunity. All of the colours on their spots, reds spread far and wide, have seen worse 147 chances than this…but naturally I’ve jinxed him and he misses a red to the left-centre on 48. Chance for a Dott counter now…

Dott can’t take it though and it’s 1-0 to Neil who now has a small advantage in the second frame. The reds have gone very scrappy though, some mileage in this yet. Robertson though has cleared from blue to black to snatch the frame and put himself two up with three to play, a significant but dangerous lead as Clive Everton would say.

First chance again goes to Neil in frame three and he is on the black…but a bizarre miscue on 45 has scuppered his chance and now Dott has potted an impressive plant to give himself a lifeline in this match…but he has missed a right to the red-centre early and the opportunity has gone.

What a turnaround we have had here! Neil 45 ahead, 35 on – but he has fouled, left a free ball and now Graeme can snatch the frame again! And he does, 2-1 when it really should have been done and dusted at 3-0. Could Graeme perform a comeback similar to that of Marco Fu in the Championship League final last season?

No he can’t, Robertson finishes him off clinically in the next frame with a break of 103 to book his place in the last 32. Good win for the world number one who I thought might struggle today. Disappointing for Graeme to lose on home soil but it was always a tough draw.

Ali Carter v Thepchaiya Un-Nooh

Moving swiftly on then, Ali Carter now takes on the 2009 IBSF World Champion Thepchaiya Un-Nooh in what could be an intriguing last 64 tie…or if Ali is on his game, potentially a quick one. We shall see though.

Un-Nooh hasn’t put on any weight since  I saw him at the World Championship qualifiers earlier this year, he’s got to be the thinnest player I have seen, although Liu Chuang runs him close.

An impressive start for Thepchaiya as he looked good in amongst the balls but a poor black which did not even threaten the jaws of the pocket saw that run come to an end and it was Ali won unsurprisingly won the subsequent safety exchanges.

The second frame sees Ali back in with a chance but he cannot take advantage and Un-Nooh responds in style with a break of 72. Not the best positionally but they kept going in.

His inexperience is still quite evident though and Ali has re-taken the lead at 2-1. An excellent long-red has given the Thai player the first opportunity in frame four but his second red was fraught with danger and now Ali has a chance to score…surprisingly not taken, can Un-Nooh force a decider?

For a while it looked like he might but a missed pink to the right-centre has given Ali the opportunity to reduce his arrears to just seven points before he laid a tough snooker behind the black on the final yellow. Thepchaiya needs to get this safe…and he does. A great long pot follows to give him a chance to force a decider but a nervy shot on the pink has let Ali in to take frame and match.

Ali did not play as well as he might but Thepchaiya’s inexperience on the big stage was most obvious when faced with a pressure shot today and that was to ultimately cost him.

The battle for the number one spot rages on…

Stephen Maguire v Stuart Pettman

The final match of the afternoon session sees Stephen Maguire take on qualifier Stuart Pettman for a place in the last 32. Stuart is a very good player but has rarely found his best form in front of the TV cameras. Will he cause an upset today?

The first frame would suggest not as a fast starting Maguire takes it in no time, but Stuart looks set to level following a break of 54 in the second, assuming Stephen does not get a snooker. Can’t assume anything though after the Dott/Robertson match earlier! 1-1 it is though, a good long red from Stuart settling the issue.

The decisive moments in frame three proved to be an impressive couple of pots on red and black from Stephen to set up a frame-winning break. Stuart though is in and motoring in frame three, looking quite good to possibly force a decider…he has missed frame ball however, a miss that you could see coming as soon as he stopped, looked at the scoreboard and realised that importance of the pot. Will he get away with it? He will as Maguire misses a black off the spot and in his anger concedes despite not leaving an easy shot for Stuart. Decider it is…

This has been a tense frame, first two big chances going to Stuart but the pressure is on as evidenced by a horrible miscue. Maguire is not playing well though and is getting visibly frustrated out there…

But that’s agonising for Stuart, two further chances on the green to win the match but he could take neither and Maguire clears to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat and boy is he happy about it, bashing the table as he pots the pink.

Peter Ebdon v Steve Davis

Best of five or not, I can see this one going on for a while! It promises to be a fascinating tussle however between two of snooker’s most experienced players.

A predictably cagey start, each player having chances but failing to score heavily so far…the decisive error however comes from Steve Davis, an attempted escape from a snooker seeing him hit the brown full ball and leave Peter in to clear.

And that is now 2-0 to Peter, a break completed with a fabulous shot from him, cutting a red across the table into the right centre from a seemingly impossible angle. 2-0 ahead and needing just one more frame now…

Steve got one back but Ebdon is through, a break of 96 in frame four taking him over the winning line and giving him a crucial boost as he bids to return to the top 16 at the first attempt.

Shaun Murphy v Dave Harold

Well, we have our first big upset at the World Open as former world number 3 Shaun Murphy has crashed out at the hands of Dave Harold, suffering a surprise 3-0 defeat against an opponent who has struggled for form during the last couple of seasons.

The first frame was a gruelling one, perhaps not surprising from the two players who once played out the longest frame in history, but having lost it Murphy never seemed to really be there tonight as Harold knocked in a couple of impressive breaks to complete the victory.

As well as being a disappointing result for a player who is capable of better, this is also a blow for Murphy in terms of his ranking as he has a lot of points soon to come off his ranking, in fact more than any other player following his UK Championship victory a couple of seasons ago. A run here would have been useful for him but it was not to be. For Dave though it is a very good result, hopefully one that will give him the confidence to go on and have a bit of a run here this week.