Thursday, 31 March 2011

China Open - Day four - Ebdon stuns Robbo

I'm not one to boast.

But anyone who read my Twitter feed this morning would have seen that I perfectly predicted the winners of all today's eight second round matches.

I had the quarter-final line-up down to an absolute tee.

John Higgins, Peter Ebdon, Judd Trump, Shaun Murphy, Ali Carter, Mark Selby, Stephen Lee and Ding Junhui all progressed.

Found out how below...

Probably my most impressive call of the day was backing Peter Ebdon to knock out the current world champion. While I fancied him to beat Neil Robertson, I perhaps didn't bank on it being so comprehensive.

Ebdon is playing somewhere near to his best snooker again and dispatched of the Aussie by a comfortable 5-1 scoreline.

Robertson admittedly is not playing a patch near his top form at the moment, but he was also never given the chance to find any rhythm against Ebbo, who froze him out of the balls.

It was a masterclass in how to stop the game's most attacking players from playing their natural game.

His reward is a quarter-final tie against Judd Trump, who knocked out Mark Davis 5-2.

This week, Judd has been playing as fluid snooker as I've seen from him in a while, but will struggle to continue this so easily against Ebdon.

Ebdon's win was probably the biggest shock of the day, but there was nearly another one as wildcard man Li Hang put in a confident performance, running Shaun Murphy all the way to a decider.

This is the second match in succession the 2005 world champion has had to recover from 3-1 down to win. While he'll be keen not to make it a habit, it shows he's got the resilience as well as the class to launch a serious world title bid this season.

Before that he'll have to play John Higgins in his Beijing quarter-final, who is probably the most highly-fancied player to win at the World Championship.

His form is coming nicely to the boil for that. Despite losing his first two frames today, he ended up a 5-2 winner against Ricky Walden despite not hitting his spectacular heights.

Mark Selby is another name that has been thrown into the hat as a possible world champion. His 5-1win against Robert Milkins will fill him with plenty of confidence.

He'll meet Ali Carter in the next round, after he defeated Marcus Campbell 5-3. On paper, that looks like the toughest quarter-final match to call.

The biggest cheer of the day was reserved for China's own, Ding Junhui.

His performance could have been better but it was enough to beat Stephen Hendry 5-2, and take him to the last eight.

The support Ding has received this week has as usual been massive. Surely that will spur him into better form now he's into the business end of the competition. If he wants to make it any further, he'll have to end Stephen Lee's decent run . He beat his second Welshman of the week when he knocked out Ryan Day 5-2.

Quarter-final draw:

Stephen Lee v Ding Junhui
Ali Carter v Mark Selby
Shaun Murphy v John Higgins
Judd Trump v Peter Ebdon

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