Monday, 30 April 2012

Captain fantastic and time for the quarters....

Ali Carter produced a miraculous comeback at the Crucible today to knock-out World Championship favourite Judd Trump and shake off the effects of a disappointing campaign.

His last-gasp 13-12 win against the stylish Bristolian was not only the most exciting match of the tournament so far, but his path to the quarter-final also marks a timely return to form.

Picture by Monqiue Limbos
The Captain has struggled all season with the impact of crohn's disease taking its toll, but coming to the Crucible appears to have helped him recapture the best of his battling qualities.

Yesterday I blogged about my admiration for Trump and how he worked his way through the gears to reassert control of his second round match. But today was about Carter digging his heels in when he was on the brink of defeat.

At 12-9 behind, he was all but beaten. Instead of rolling over and letting Judd march on, he stubbornly started to grind. You could be critical of Carter for refusing plenty of pots but with it he also managed to stifle Judd.

Last year's finalist started to show some chinks in his usually robust armoury. He was missing balls you would never dream of seeing him miss as the Crucible heat was telling.

This coupled with Carter's tight approach was enough to see him over the line. It is a milestone win for Ali in a season where there has been little else to cheer about.

Carter made some fantastic pressure breaks and fought like a warrior to earn a surprise place in quarter-finals.

But Ali wasn't the only one defying the odds to reach the last eight. Tonight produced another episode from the vastly entertaining Jamie Jones show as he closed out a 13-10 win against Andrew Higginson.

Picture by Monique Limbos
The Welshman has played like it means absolutely nothing when in fact it means everything on his Crucible debut. He's riding the crest of optimism and his run in Sheffield could prove to be career-defining. As long as he continues to enjoy it, who knows how far he can go.

His match with Carter promises to be a thriller but the box office tie of the quarter-final sees Neil Robertson take on Ronnie O'Sullivan. This is the meeting of the tournament's two most impressive players so far and is worthy of any final.

O'Sullivan has glided to the final eight in great form but will face his biggest task yet against Robertson, who is a matchplay animal.

The Aussie is proficient in every department and will have to be bashed and bashed again harder to be beaten.

Elsewhere in the draw we've got the all-Scottish match between Stephen Maguire and Stephen Hendry as a form man meets the Crucible legend.

Hendry was Maguire's childhood hero but now he has a chance to make his own mark on the great venue.

Then there's an all-Welsh battle between Ryan Day and Matthew Stevens. Both are talented cuemen but are liable to faltering under pressure.

They're great friends off the table but will do battle with the chance to turn a mediocre season into a special one playing under the lights of a one-table set-up at the Crucible.

We're down to the business end, and I cannot wait.

Quarter-final draw:

Ronnie O'Sullivan v Neil Robertson
Ryan Day v Matthew Stevens
Stephen Maguire v Stephen Hendry
Ali Carter v Jamie Jones

1 comment:

  1. What a great tournament this is turning out to be. I can't remember being this excited about so many players and how they'll perform.