Australian Goldfields Open 2012: Ebdon Edges Ding…Eventually!

Day four in Australia proved to be the most intriguing of the tournament so far as Peter Ebdon and more bizarrely, Judd Trump caused a stir, while Mark Davis sent home hope Neil Robertson packing with a 5-1 win…

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Peter Ebdon booked his place in the quarter-finals of the Australian Goldfields Open today with a 5-4 victory against Ding Junhui, in a match that required almost five hours to complete. The tone was set early on in the match as Ebdon took advantage of a missed green from his opponent to take a 50 minute opener, before doubling his lead following another scrappy frame.

Ding to his credit was able to draw level at the interval thanks to a top break of 129, before the match eventually came down to a decider following a stunning pot on a re-spotted black from Ding in frame eight, the white tight on the baulk cushion.

Peter though was not to be denied, a nerveless break of 70 under the circumstances from him enough to lead Ding needing a snooker and following a missed black, the handshake was immediately to follow.

Not for the first time following a Peter Ebdon match, much of the post-match discussion was not to centre around what was an excellent result for the former world champion, but instead about his ‘slow’ pace which saw him finish the match with an average shot time of 38 seconds, compared to 25 for Ding. Adding to that particular debate was Judd Trump, who subsequently took some criticism for the following comment on Twitter:

“How Peter ebdon is allowed to play that slow is a joke”

As ever when this particular debate rears its ugly head, I personally don’t have a problem with the approach employed by Ebdon or anyone else and believe that so long as they are playing within the rules, then they should do whatever it takes to win.

Whilst I understand the argument that if everyone played at the pace Ebdon did today then snooker might struggle to attract fans, to me it would be more boring if every player played the same. Barry Hearn has often stated that snooker needs more variety in terms of tournaments and that surely must apply to players too.

Furthermore, the first priority for any player has to be winning and as Peter has often said, while he might not be the most naturally gifted player the game that has ever seen, there is no reason why he cannot be the most determined and even after all of these years, his will to win appears to be undiminished.

That said, whilst I do not agree with Trump in this instance, I think that it is good for the sport to see him expressing an opinion, if nothing else it has got people talking about snooker and the tournament. Anything to divert the attention away from the ongoing Ronnie O’Sullivan saga can only be a positive thing in my mind.

Elsewhere, the effect of the delay caused by the late finish to Ebdon’s victory caused the match between home favourite Neil Robertson and form player Mark Davis to be delayed, and when they resumed it was Davis who took five frames in a row to secure a tremendous victory.

Having taken the opener, Robertson looked good to double his advantage early on before a kick when on a break of 39 intervened and proved to be the turning point in the match. Take nothing away from Mark however, four 60+ breaks enough to see the Six Red World Champion into his second quarter-final of the new season and further boost his chances of moving up into the top 16 at one of this season’s upcoming seedings revisions.

You can read Neil and Mark’s comments after the match at World Snooker, while Neil also commented on Twitter after the match:

“Damn u Ebdon lol. Tough match to get started at nearly 10pm and things seemed to turn after the kick to go 2-0 up. Well done to Mark though”

Next up for Mark will be a clash with Martin Gould, who followed up his confidence boosting win against Ken Doherty in the opening round with a deciding-frame success against Cao Yupeng to reach his first quarter-final in over a year. A high-quality match through, highlighted by a tournament high and career-best break of 143 compiled by Cao, it was eventually to go Martin’s way as he survived an attempted clearance from his opponent in the decider.

Also through today was Matt Selt, who defeated Welshman Ryan Day 5-3 to reach his second career ranking event quarter-final, a year on from his first which coincidentally also came here in Bendigo. Someone who I have a lot of time for on the snooker circuit, he now moves on to a clash with Barry Hawkins, who as tipped in my tournament preview booked his place in the quarter-finals of an event for the first time since 2008 with victory against Matthew Stevens today.i

Who will win the tournament from here? With so many quality players remaining in the draw it is always hard to make predictions, but at this stage I do like the chances of Shaun Murphy, a winner already in Malta, Ireland, Brazil and Germany amongst other nations. Can he add Australia to that list  wonder?