Friday, 18 January 2013

Decider time

This year's Masters is the gift that keeps on giving. With every day, it seems to get better and better.

Yesterday, I spent both sessions inside the venue and was treated to some first class action and drama.

There were two more matches that went the distance to take the tournament tally up to six, as the nailbiting continues. There were even discussions online that this year's event is shaping up to be the best in Masters history.
Picture by Monique Limbos
That's a debate for another day but I've been going to watch live snooker for more than a decade and yesterday's value for money would definitely take some beating.

In the first match, Neil Robertson cruelly edged past Mark Allen 6-5. The Northern Ireland man laid his opponent in a snooker, tight behind the yellow. It was the last shot he took of the tournament as the Aussie escaped the snooker, knocking in a red close to the pocket and then coolly making the fourth century of the match to continue the defence of his title.

Allen was rocked. Ousted by a fluke, he reckons. I think it was more of a percentage shot than perhaps Robertson has been given credited for. Resting the cue ball into the pack of reds wouldn't have been easy. Instead, the red he played for was close enough to the pocket to have a good chance of going in.

But whatever way you see it, snooker has always been the same. If you get a slice of luck, it's about how you take advantage of it.

Picture by Monique Limbos
Robertson's match-winning century was of the highest quality. It was slower and more methodical than his usual big breaks, but it meant so much. This was a big win in a match where both players contributed to it being a classic.

The way Neil finished showed all the hallmarks of a champion.

Heading back into the auditorium for the evening match, you wondered how John Higgins and Shaun Murphy could match up to such lofty standards.

Granted, this one was more of a late bloomer but its ending was epic.

The first four frames were difficult to watch, at times. But after five, Higgins led 4-1 playing no better than his famous B-game. Murphy looked a bit betwixt and in between. Were his tactics to take the game to Higgins or keep it tight? It was hard to tell.

Then it all clicked. He won three on the spin to level, fell behind again at 5-4, and then won the final two frames to clinch the match.

I bet it was beyond even Murphy's wildest dreams. Higgins just doesn't surrender leads like this, or so we thought.

The Scot is usually such a safe pair of hands but, now Murphy has history, having also beaten Ali Carter at the Barbican from behind.

This sets up a semi-final clash between Murphy and Robertson; a repeat of the final here a year ago. The brief is simple. Robertson is gunning to defend his title. Murphy is bidding to become the eighth player to complete the triple crown.

It was a fantastic day at the Alexandra Palace. We can only hope for me of the same today.

No comments:

Post a Comment