Friday, 1 March 2013

Craziness on Hainan Island

It's been a crazy week so far on Hainan Island.

The World Open has had a whole manner of different, intriguing plots.

Ricky Walden used Stephen Maguire's cue to beat Peter Ebdon in round one, then beat Maguire himself after he'd returned it.

Rain (or rather dripping condensation) has stopped play. Matthew Stevens has used a different cue in every match. Judd Trump opened his cue case to find his tip had turned a weird shape because of the damp.

There have been flashing lights, lots of flies in the arena, trouble from the photographers and suspiciously low crowds for an event in China.

Picture by Monique Limbos
Maybe now we've reached the semi-finals, something resembling normality will be resumed. We have two cracking matches to look forward to...

John Higgins is back playing like the great champion many of us have grown to love. He's had his fair share of struggles for form since winning the Shanghai Masters back in September, but looks right back in the groove after back-to-back 5-0 wins against Stuart Bingham and Ding Junhui. He's hardly given his opponents a sniff.

Picture by Monique Limbos
Mark Allen hasn't been playing quite as well but has done enough to keep his hopes of defending the title alive. This tournament a year ago was the scene for his greatest career triumph to date, but also memorable for his slurs against China on Twitter. More and more, he's proving he's come of age. His assessment of his form is far more pragmatic these days and he has a much more diplomatic way of offering his opinions. He isn't playing his best but is dangerous because he is fearless.

Neil Robertson should have a spring in his step after beating Mark Selby. The Jester has been his achilles' heel of late, knocking him out of both the UK Championship and Masters on the BBC. Robertson is a class act but has struggled to get the better of Selby, who has found a formula to battle past him twice. The Aussie is looking to step up his bid to become world number one and looks in good shape.

Matthew Stevens is strung some good results together in recent months. This week, he's had too much for Shaun Murphy and Judd Trump, showing the quality he needs to sustain his place in the top 16. He's played musical cues but won't care a sniff now he's at the business end of a tournament. 

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