Thursday, 29 March 2012

Ebdon comes good, but what about Higgins?

Peter Ebdon got everyone talking in Beijing today with a masterful 5-4 win against John Higgins.

This is a welcome return to form for the Force as he got back to his battling best to scrape past Higgins despite struggling for form all. While Peter can cheer a big win, the consequences could be far greater for the four-time world champion.
Picture by Monique Limbos

This is supposed to be the stage of the season where Higgins comes up with his best, just in time for the World Championship. Unfortunately, today just summed up the rest of his season as he stuttered again.

Ever since November it's been widely regarded that the Wizard of Wishaw would start climbing through the gears in a timely fashion for his world tile defence. The fact that it hasn't quite happened here for him will only set the alarm bells ringing with Sheffield next on the calendar.

Form doesn't bode well for Higgins as he gets ready to charge towards a fifth world title but sometimes it's not always about how you're playing. Higgins has proved time and time again what a formidable match player he is; one of the greatest. That's why you can never write him off.

He might not be in everyone's immediate thoughts to trimuph at the Crucible. But his might suit him down to the ground. Many of his greatest successes have arrived in face of adversity. So never say never.

It's important this result doesn't become all about Higgins though. Ebdon hasn't become a bad player overnight. He's as tough to beat as most and has obviously been putting in the hours on the practice table to haul himself back into contention. Many fans feel fondly about Ebbo and you get the feeling he's not quite ready to call time yet.

It's not all about what happens on the table that could impact how things unfold at the World Championship. World number one Mark Selby - suffering from a neck injury - decided to pull out of his match with Ding Junhui  today in fear of making the problem worse.

Picture by Monique Limbos
It would take a minor miracle for the Jester to lose his place at the head of the world rankings. With that out of his mind he'll be pumped up for silverware next month. This tactical move to take a break shows he means business as he's due a serious assault on the world crown.

Ronnie O'Sullivan was back at the races today as he extended his formidable run against Mark Williams with a 5-1 win. The Rocket hasn't lost to the Welshman in a decade; an incredible head-to-head record between two of the games greats.

It's no secret how highly Williams still rates O'Sullivan. You always get a feeling of the mutual respect between these two when they meet. Perhaps this contributes to Ronnie always going into the matches on the top of his game with the attitude to match while Williams maybe lacks a bit of belief.

Carter's struggles also seem behind him. He destroyed Lu Ning 5-1 as he shows you don't have to be fancied to perform.

It's also important to mention Judd Trump at this stage. Defending his China Open crown, his 5-3 win against Stuart Bingham was almost a carbon copy of their match at the Masters. While he let Stuart stay within a touching distance, he seems to have a developed a streak where he can kill a player off at the business when it suits. This is a fine quality and proves he's set to be at the top of the game for the long-term.

There's very little to say about Stephen Lee. He beat Graeme Dott 5-3 as his hot streak of form rolls on. The same could be said about Stephen Maguire too. It took a decider to see him battle past Ricky Walden but, whatever the conditions, he seems capable of winning of late.

That only leaves Neil Robertson. Still sporting an amazing perm he dispatched of Stephen Hendry showing the qualities of a champion again as he quietly goes about his work of fighting through the early rounds.

As always, the quarter-final line-up is a belter. Let's get down to business.

Quarter-final draw: 

Judd Trump v Stephen Lee
Stephen Maguire v Ronnie O'Sullivan
Ding Junhui v Ali Carter
Neil Robertson v Peter Ebdon


  1. not very objective reporting.

    it was a poor match between higgins and ebdon, with the lesser of two evils winning.

    higgins has gone on a heavy downward spiral in form and you don't just bounce back from that kind of descent by clicking your fingers. get real.

  2. I can assure you this is objectove because I hold affections for neither of the two players over the other. It was a poor match but masterful from Ebbo as he scrapped to his trademark best. He hasn't always shown that this season. Higgins has been off the mark this season but I warn you not to write him off. At the Crucible the matches are longer and he has time to bed in.