Saturday, 3 March 2012

A formidable final

You could hardly wish for a more perfect final in the Haikou World Open.

Stephen Lee's meeting with Mark Allen is the coming together of two massively in form men.

Allen - chasing his maiden ranking title - produced a sensational comeback against the world number one Mark Selby.

After trailing 5-2 he won four frames on the spin to complete a thrilling turnaround against arguably the toughest player in the game.

The Antrim potter couldn't have wished to have played better as he stormed back. It was worthy of winning any match and he'll probably feel he should go on and win it now.

Enough has been made of Allen's twitter comments this week but I'd rather focus on what he's doing on the table.

He's shown the kind of siege mentality this week that is quickly becoming his trademark, shining in the face of adversity. Just like in the UK Championship earlier this season where he reached his first ranking final, he's fighting tooth and nail for the trophy.

It appears he plays better when people are criticising him but his performances in China has earned him plenty of supporters for the final.

Allen is ready and desperate to win a ranking event. Expect him to turn up with his A-game.

Lee - searching for his fifth ranking title - is enjoying a super run of form himself, playing better snooker than he has for many years.

He arrived in China off the back of runs to the semi-final and quarter-final of the last two ranking events and he's managed to notch his performance up another level again.

He controlled Robert Milkins in the semi-final to record a 6-2 win.

He's back in the top 16, enjoying playing again and striking the ball like he did when he was at his very best.

Lee will be as eager to lift the trophy as Allen. His last major final was at the Masters in 2008 and you have to go back to the 2006 Welsh Open to find his last win.

A return to the winning circle will act as great motivation and a win would also put him up to number six in the world rankings ahead of Neil Robertson and Stephen Maguire no less.

Whatever way it goes, a thriller is guaranteed.

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