Sunday, 14 April 2013

Crucible qualifiers: part 2

More drama this afternoon on the road to the Crucible.

The fight to make it to the World Championship rumbles on, but three more have secured their places...

Alan McManus

A long-awaited return to snooker's holy grail for the former Masters champion and two-time World Championship semi-finalist. McManus hasn't played at the Crucible for seven years. His last appearance came in 2006 and it's great to see him back. In a year when it looks as if the qualifiers will be dominated by new faces and young promise, McManus' passage is on behalf of the old guard. This week, he's beaten Aditya Mehta 10-9, Nigel Bond 10-8 and finished off his run beating Tom Ford 10-5. The Scot appears to have maintained his commitment and love for playing the game. He's showed some resurgence this season and will get a big cheer on his return. He's one of the real veterans.  

Mark Davis

Some will say that justice has been served here. Davis has had an incredible season and only missed out on automatic seeding for the World Championship because of Ronnie O'Sullivan's late announcement to defend his world title. The 40 year old has found the form of his life this season. He'd never been to a major ranking event semi-final before the start of the campaign. He's now been to three, including one in York at the UK Championship. He'll remember this season forever. He's had great highs. Something would have been missing if he'd not found his way to the Crucible, though. His 10-6 win against Liang Wenbo has secured his place. He had a slight lead throughout, guarded it well and then as the winning post came in sight motored to victory. This was a very experienced performance against a dangerous opponent who has been involved in some great Crucible moments in recent years. 

Matt Selt

Another debutant at this year's World Championship. Selt is ready to fight out it out at the Crucible after beating 1997 world champion Ken Doherty 10-9 in dramatic fashion. He led the Irishman 9-4 and was on the cusp of victory before being pegged back and eventually snatching the match in the deciding frame. He showed great bottle in the end after having to weather an almighty fightback. Selt will win many admirers after this pressure-fuelled win. His game is built on a sound safety foundation. He is a bit of an old-school player. He isn't reckless and doesn't try to force the issue. Instead, he shows great discipline and waits patiently for his chances. When they come, he proved he can attack. This was nearly a match Selt would remember for all the wrong reasons but now he can be relieved. Reaching the Crucible is a great way for him to finish a season which overall has been a bit disappointing. He has had little joy in the PTCs and hasn't reached a major venue since progressing to the Australian Open quarter-finals last summer. It will be interesting to see how Selt fares on the biggest stage. He has a solid game. He is confident and resolute.

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