Shanghai Masters 2011: Gould Comeback Shocks Local Hero

Today saw the second half of the draw get underway in Shanghai as Martin Gould came back from the dead against Ding Junhui to keep his top 16 hopes alive while a damaging defeat for Stephen Hendry ensured that he will be forced to qualify for the UK Championship for the first time in my living memory this year…

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Trailing Chinese number one Ding Junhui 3-0 in their best of nine frame match this morning the odds were stacked against Martin Gould (16/1 in fact as a lucky Twitter follower of mine was to profit from), but eventually he was able to turn the match around to secure an impressive win.

It had looked unlikely early on as Ding moved into a 3-0 lead with top breaks of 70 and 52 but importantly Martin was able to take the last frame before the interval with 62 of his own to keep himself in the match. A maximum attempt followed from the Pinner Potter in frame five, eventually ending with a miss on the 12th red before he added the next to level the match at 3-3. From there while Ding did not give up, the momentum was with Martin and he added the next two for a famous win.

Strangely Martin actually moves down in my projected seedings list today which I will explain in a moment but just 50 points behind 16th placed Mark Davis with more points available this week and two more PTCs to follow before the next cut-off he remains well in contention. For Ding meanwhile have elected to skip most of the upcoming PTC events it will be interesting to see how he fares by the time the UK Championship comes around in December. Will he have had enough match practice?

Moving above Martin in my list today is Welshman Matthew Stevens who saw off fellow top 16 chaser Stephen Lee with a 5-2 victory today to move up two places to 15th while Lee meanwhile remains in 14th place. Both though remain well in the fight for the top 16, Stevens having the opportunity to gain further points tomorrow when he comes up against Martin Gould.

The same cannot be said for the great Stephen Hendry however as the Scot’s poor run continued with a 5-1 reverse to Robert Milkins which by my maths now means that he cannot finish inside the top 16 at the October cut-off and will therefore miss out on a place at the Masters while also having to qualify for the UK Championship and German Masters tournaments. Take nothing away from Robert however who was due a good result against Stephen having lost all of his previous matches against the seven-times world champion and fully deserved the win.

Next up for him will be Mark Williams who easily dispatched Andrew Higginson this morning without the loss of the frame to keep the pressure on Mark Selby as the battle for the world number one spot at the next cut-off enters a critical phase.

Also progressing was reigning world champion John Higgins who shrugged off a poor run of recent form to oust PTC4 finalist Mark Davis and move into the second round. His next opponent will be Australian Open winner Stuart Bingham who continued his run of form with a terrific 5-1 success against China Open champion Judd Trump away from the TV cameras.

Finally there was a shock in store for 2007 China Open winner Graeme Dott as the Scot slipped to a 5-2 defeat to Michael Holt, while Neil Robertson secured an important win against another home hero Liang Wenbo, eventually winning the match 5-1.