Crucible Diary 2013: Day Four

Better late than never, due to my blogs on Graeme Dott’s thoughts on a shot clock and my write-up of yesterday’s Twitter session with Clive Everton, click below to read the story of my fourth day at the Crucible in 2013, as Ali Carter confirmed a last 16 meeting with Ronnie O’Sullivan which will start on Saturday, while Dechawat Poomjaeng continues to gain new fans as he looks to upset Stephen Maguire…

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After a couple of sleepless nights, this morning I decided to watch the first couple of frames of the start of Ding Junhui and Matthew Stevens’ Crucible campaigns from the comfort of the hotel room, with Ding’s clash with Alan McManus live on BBC2.

Back at the Crucible for the first time since 2006, Alan made a strong start, taking two of the opening three frames, either side of a 131 from his opponent, who was wearing a black armband and along with Marco Fu, elected not to come out to walk-on music, as a mark of respect for the victims in the China earthquake. A decision would be taken later in the day to cancel the walk-on music for both the afternoon and evening sessions, as it was felt to be a little strange to have music for some players but not others.

At around this time, I decided to head over to the Crucible and type up my chat with Clive Everton yesterday, while watching the remainder of the morning session from the media centre. By this point, Ding has turned on the style, another ton, surrounded by a string of other strong breaks eventually seeing him into a 7-2 lead by the close of play.

In the other match, Fu made a strong start to lead 5-1, eventually coming out with a 6-3 lead in a session which would see (I think), the first re-spotted black of the tournament, won by Stevens to close to 2-5 and give himself some hope in the match.

With Jason Ferguson quipping as to whether I had brought my trainers for a morning run, something of a running joke brought about by my daily struggles up the hill to the Crucible from the Travelodge, while Rob Walker raged at the anonymous hack who set the wallpaper on his laptop to a photograph of Tom Ford, it was a fun morning, in what would prove to be a day full of laughter as the action continued.

The reason for the hilarity was the continued entertainment provided by Thailand’s Dechawat Poomjaeng, whose numerous antics continued to capture the imaginations of the Crucible audience, as well as those at home. At the end of a long session, he and Stephen Maguire were pulled off with the scoreline poised at 9-8 to Poomjaeng, with 55 minutes to go before the start of the evening session.

Elsewhere, Judd Trump made a strong start against Dominic Dale, a 142 total clearance helping him to a 6-3 overnight lead at the close of play.

Aside from the action, it has been a quiet day for me on a personal level, with many of the other bloggers and usual suspects at the Crucible so far this week having departed, so I decided to head on into the arena for the evening session between Ali Carter and Ben Woollaston, resuming at 5-4 to the reigning German Masters champion.

As it turned out, the session would prove to be a one-sided affair as Ali reeled off the five frames he needed to book his place in the next round. Highlighted by a break of 106 to start the session, it was a quietly impressive performance from Carter, who just as a year ago looks to be in the mood to do some damage in this tournament and will now await Ronnie O’Sullivan in the last 16. Ali was very tight-lipped when speaking to the written press on his thoughts concerning that match and it will be interesting to see whether he can do anything different to when he has played the four-time champion here in the past.

Over on table two, Mark Selby raced into a 5-0 lead against a struggling Matt Selt, before the qualifier took three of the last four to give himself a chance going into tomorrow’s final session. In fairness, Mark himself was far from at his best and will need to improve if he is to go deep into the tournament.

The real drama however was still to come, as Dechawat ‘Jack’ Poomjaeng and Stephen Maguire resumed their match over on table one, in a session which could well go down as the best of the tournament in two weeks time.

As would transpire, Maguire would force a decider following a 43 minute epic, before Poomjaeng then finished strongly with a well-taken break to secure a famous victory for the world number 70, celebrating afterwards like he had won the tournament, not won a last 32 match.

The press conferences of both players would prove to be just as entertaining as Dechawat’s antics out there in the arena and I will publish full quotes tomorrow, once the written media have had their usage out of them in the morning press.