Friday, 4 November 2011

Ding downs Ronnie to book play-off place

Any talk of Ding Junhui being rusty was rubbished last night as he booked his place in the Premier League  play-offs with victory in Southampton.

The 24-year-old Chinese cueman defeated defending champion Ronnie O'Sullivan 3-1 in the final after taking advantage of an out-of-practice Neil Robertson in his first match.

The Australian admitted in his pre-match interview that he'd not spent too much time on the table since his victory in Killarney and a five-hour journey to the Southampton venue didn't help his preparations either.

He gave Ding a fight anyway taking the match a decider - but couldn't find a result.

Ding on the other hand, must be fresh as a daisy and was well worth his win against O'Sullivan . It's been well-documented that Ding has been skipping recent PTCs. I'm sure O'Sullivan will envy he can afford to but I assume the main reason is to protect himself against burnout with bigger tournaments on the horizon. Some people have questioned whether he could maintain his match sharpness.

The answer last night was a resounding yes.

Ding now sits pretty at the top of the Premier League table with 16 points from his four nights. With a seven-point cushion over fifth-placed Mark Williams, he's guaranteed to be in the semi-finals at the end of the month.

Victories in Southampton and Stoke gave him the bulk of his points while an appearance at the Motherwell final also helped him neutralise his semi-final whitewash to Ali Carter in Doncaster.

Robertson has now also played all four of his matches but will have to sweat over his play-off place with just 12 points banked. Currently ranked fourth, he'll have to wait on results of Williams, Matthew Stevens, Ali Carter who are all on nine points and Shaun  Murphy on seven, who can all still catch him. The odds are stacked against him.

O'Sullivan's trip to the final moved him up to third. He also has 12 points and a three-point cushion over the main chasing pack but still has to play in Grimsby.

He defeated second-placed Judd Trump 3-2 in the semi-final but the young potter still has a night to play and looks comfortable on 14 points after wins in Weston-Super-Mare and Exeter.

Unsurprisingly, it was this match that gave the night in Southampton its biggest talking point.

The meeting of O'Sullivan and Trump was always going to be box office, and it was proving that way with the players level at 2-2. Trump had made a break of 139, while Ronnie had twice scored over 50.

That was before the ball-in-hand rule in the Shoot-Out frame ruined a great match. After Trump accidentally knocked in the green, Ronnie took the ball in to prime position and made 70 to win the match. It meant the deciding frame to a good match became an anti-climax.

I'm not going to lose too much sleep over it. After all, this was a Premier best-of-five match. Hopefully we'll have many more meetings between these two at even bigger venues to look forward to.

But in my opinion, this should be a severe warning never to let the ball-in-hand rule ever enter the world of ranking snooker.

No comments:

Post a Comment