Friday, 21 September 2012

The Best of British four

We're led to believe that the future of snooker resides here in China but, in the present, it's the best of the British who are ruling the roost.

Four remain in the Shanghai Masters and it's a stellar line-up comprising of great British champions.

But which one will be taking the trophy back home with them?

John Higgins

The four-time world champion has been at his trademark best this week, scrapping his way through the rounds to his first ranking event semi-final since the Crucible in 2011. Higgins is desperate to put a disappointing 18 months behind him and, after a lengthier summer break than most, has vowed to get back to business. If John starts putting the hours in away from the main venues it won't be long before he's competing for silverware again. He's a competitive animal who brings out his best when he needs it most. Still good enough to be in the winner's circle, he'll want to prove it this weekend. 

Mark Williams

The two-time Crucible king has put to bed any demons that may have been waiting for him in Shanghai after losing a controversial final to Mark Selby a year ago. He's had other problems to worry about though. Involved in a scooter crash at a cue sports trade show on Thursday, he managed to fight through an injured right wrist to beat Joe Perry 5-4. Williams can be as attractive to watch as anyone on his day but another of his best qualities is finding a way to win. He doesn't lose heart when the balls go scrappy but finds a way to get through. He comes with bundles of experience and is more than capable of finishing the job now. 

Shaun Murphy

The 2005 world champion is renowned for his consistency with streams over quarter-finals and semi-finals to report on over the past two seasons. He hasn't made it to a major ranking final since he won the PTC Grand Finals in March 2011 but, if you don't think that counts, you have to go back as far as the 2009 World Championship showpiece. He looks like he's playing well enough to start winning titles again. He's diced with death a little this week after being pegged back from 3-0 up against both Dominic Dale and Mark King before coming through 5-4 and 5-3 respectively. His quarter-final win was far more straightforward though as he caught Stuart Bingham on a bad day and stuffed him 5-1. He never takes anything for granted.

Judd Trump

No-one has shown greater character here in Shanghai than Judd. After needing to produce two turnarounds early in the week, he got off to a much better start against Graeme Dott, building a 4-1 lead. But the determined Scot came back at him to force a decider. The switch in momentum in the match didn't play on Trump's mind though as he produced a steely century to pinch the final frame. He's been asked many questions this week and hasn't been at his best but has managed to find the answers. He's the definite fans favourite with the Chinese contingent and this could spur him on all the way. 

The next time I blog the champion of the Shanghai Masters will have been decided. It couldn't be any more difficult to pick a winner...

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