Sunday, 22 July 2012

Maguire on a march

There aren't many greater sights in snooker than seeing Stephen Maguire playing at the very top of his game.

For the past six months, he's been very close to being back to his best. His capture of the UKPTC1 title in Gloucester tonight is more evidence of that.

Picture by Monique Limbos
Add this to last season's victory at the PTC12 in Germany, reaching the finals of the German Masters and China Open and making the final four at the World Championship, and you get the sense he's back in the groove.

A great all-round match player. A dominator. A foot on the throat attacker .A momentum man. We've heard all of them when it comes to talking about a confident Maguire. We saw glimpses of all of these attributes in his 4-3 victory against Jack Lisowski as he gets used to winning again.

This spell of form - dating back to February - is now more than a purple patch. Maguire is back in the running for titles on a consistent basis and will be keen to win another big one this season.

After all, you have to go back to the 2008 China Open for his last. A mixture of factors have probably contributed to this mini-drought, not least the massive competition to win titles in the sport. But mark my words, Maguire is still a top, top player capable of winning all the major honours.

As well a cheque for £10,000 and another trophy in the cabinet, victory at this PTC will act as a great confidence booster. Maguire has a platform to build on in what could become a very fruitful season for him.

While Maguire rightly takes the plaudits tonight, runner-up Jack Lisowski is worthy of great praise as well.

He came within touching distance of winning his first professional title and could only watch as his opponent sunk the final black in a dramatic deciding frame, after he missed a routine yellow off the spot.

It's a credit to Jack - and how far he's come - that he will be so disappointed by defeat. Now into his third season in the professional ranks, he turns up at these tournaments to win rather than just gain vital experience.

This is the second PTC final he's been beaten in, but he is still developing and is not yet the final product. Once he does dust away scars of this defeat, there are many positives for him to take.

He beat world number two and flatmate Judd Trump and world number three Mark Williams on a weekend where he played some cracking snooker. He was fearless, went for his shots and took the game to his higher-ranked opponents.

Jack will be back and will win events in his career. He has a great game and a fine attitude to go with it. He showed great guts in Gloucester and nearly secured a milestone moment in his career.

But his bravery on the baize shouldn't surprise us. Just four years ago, Lisowski was diagnosed with cancer, but is here to tell the tale after winning his battle against the disease. He's made of stern stuff and is unlikely to have his spirits dampened for too long.

Jack is in the unfortunate position of living in the shadow of his best friend Judd, but I have no doubt he will go on to become a great force in the sport alongside his pal.

It's worth remembering he is at a different stage of his career to Trump and the realisation of that could be the key to his success this season. Jack isn't afraid of hard work and has all the key ingredients to rise to the top.

1 comment:

  1. Great to see Maguire back on top. Well done to him.