Saturday, 2 February 2013

The final four

Only four players remain in the German Masters and their eyes on the prize.

The Tempodrom has everything a fan could want. It appears to have a lively but respectful atmosphere that could be unrivalled on the circuit.

Packed with tables and busy with action, fans can really feast on their snooker here.

It's been an insight into what life might be like next season when ranking tournaments are played in a last 128 knockout structure. This is exciting times but, unfortunately, not all the players have been pleased with the conditions.

This will need to be carefully looked at ahead of other events because although the fans, broadcasters and sponsors are important, the players will always be the stars of the show.

Having all four quarter-finals playing at once was excellent. This really felt like the level-playing field Barry Hearn has always talked about and had an immediacy that was gripping to follow.

No tournament can stay like this forever. We're down to the grand one-table set-up now ready for the semi-finals, when the heat really steps up a level.

From here, the matches really become big occasions.

For the four that remain, motivation shouldn't be a problem. All eyes of an enthusiastic and packed crowd will be on them and glory at the German Masters, now one of the big titles to win, is within touching distance.

Here's a quick look ahead to the matches...

Neil Robertson v Ali Carter

The Australian is the favourite to lift the title from here and can be confident that he doesn't have to face Mark Selby who has been his undoing at both the previous UK Championship and Masters tournaments.

Picture by Monique Limbos
There are no easy games and his match against Ali Carter is interesting because it puts together two players who can mix it well.

Robertson has an unshakable detemination. Even after disappointing defeats he always comes back into the tournament flowing with confidence and keen to have another crack.

He is a complete player and proved again, when he beat Shaun Muphy 5-4 in the last round, that this gives him an edge against many other top players.

Carter has a big task ahead of him but is never afraid of a good old scrap. Ali has been around long enough and fears no-one. He's played some classy stuff this week and looks like he will take his chances should he get them against Robertson.

Barry Hawkins v Marco Fu

Picture by Monique Limbos
This wouldn't have been the semi-final many people banked on but both have played well to get here.

Hawkins was superb against Mark Allen and booked his place in the last four with a 5-1 win against man-of-the-moment Selby.

The world number one looked a little sluggish and Hawkins swooped in to take full advantage.

Barry can sometimes be wildly under-rated. He's very attacking and has had success this week as a result of really going for his shots.

I think he is slight favourite against Marco Fu here but I hear the Hong Kong man is playing very well, especially against Matthew Stevens in the quarter-final.

Fu has always been a bit of an enigma. Sometimes he looks like he could lose to anyone and at ohers he can beat anyone himself. He is clearly having one of his better weeks.

Hawkins won the Australian Open earlier this season. Some people decided to devalue this triumph before of some big name absentees. If he lifts the trophy in Berlin, he would have done it the hard way.

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