The first day of the Totesport.com Welsh Open was a rather flat affair due to a low crowd turnout and some uninspiring snooker.

Andrew Higginson played very well to lead Marco Fu 4-0 and both Neil Robertson and Ali Carter showed glimpses of their best form but, overall, it wasn’t great stuff.

This happens at every tournament, indeed in every sport.

Today, Ronnie O’Sullivan returns to action after losing his epic Masters final to Mark Selby at Wembley nine days ago.

It seems if you so much as mention Ronnie you upset someone, so I’ll just say I hope he produces a performance he is satisfied with.

Dave Harold has beaten Stephen Hendry four times but his last win came just over a decade ago.

It was Harold who Hendry beat shortly after fracturing a bone in his elbow (or breaking his arm as the headlines screamed at the time) at the 1994 World Championship.

Hendry has declined as a force but is still a big draw. Next month, he will face Ding Junhui in a best of 25 frames televised match in Beijing – no short formats for them, they prefer proper matches – to be screened on 110sport.tv.

But the legendary Scot doesn’t want to be merely applauded as one of the game’s elder statesmen. He wants to win and, after a disappointing defeat to Martin Gould at Newport last year, will be highly focused against the Stoke potter.

Shaun Murphy has dealt Matthew Stevens two massive blows, both at the Crucible.

In 2005, he beat him 18-16 in the final. Three years ago he came from 12-7 down to edge the Welshman 13-12 in the quarter-finals and relegate him from the top 16.

Stevens scrapped over the line against Barry Pinches but there needn’t be much read into this. First rounds are often about falling over the line.

However, Stevens has a poor record in his home event. He hasn’t reached the last 16 of the Welsh Open since 2006 and will need to produce something to see off Murphy, who finished runner-up in Newport that same year.


Anonymous said...

Big Stu is 3-0 down in a ranking event on live tv and misses a blue to middle whilst trying to cannon a red and Joe Johnson says:

he didnt need to play the fancy cannon

well, pardon me Joe, but i dont think he tried anything fancy at all. hes in there fighting for ranking points and im sure the last thing he was trying was a bit of exhibitioning.

Saying that Stu has been very poor so far. Bit like Joes comments.

Wish Dave did all the matches (himself)

Anonymous said...

The match between Hendry and Ding sounds great, I wish we had more long matches in ranking tournaments.
Dave, do you know what's up with Marco Fu? After a great couple of years his form seems to have disappeared.

jamie brannon said...

Ronnie closed that match with a majestic 76. Overall, he was patchy though and has a tough draw here on in.

Anonymous said...

Ronnie was terrible for most of that match yet still won easily. Doesnt say much for Stu though...

Anonymous said...

RoS was poor, but winning when playing badly is the sign of a good player I think!

On a separate note, the crowds look worse than sparse. Are the tickets too expensive, or is it just a general lack of interest? The way things are going this could be the last Welsh Open for some time, which would be a pity.

shaun said...

matthew stevens just made a great break to edge out murphy 5 4 i hope he has a good run he is overdue one and dominic dale and mcguire just going into a decider it could be a good day for the welsh

kimball said...

It could be a glass less than halvfull, THE tornado is driving
RYAN Day crazy.
11 sec,s between shots!!!

Derrick said...

Anon 5:17, the tickets for Monday afternoon were £6.00, I was surprised that more people didn't turn out to support Matthew. For the rest of the week the tickets are £10.00 or £12.00 for the afternoon or evening sessions. Back in the day when Regal were sponsers, you could get into the early rounds for a couple of quid and watch a full day's snooker.

It's not just Newport though, attendances look sparse in the early rounds of most ranking tournaments. Most people presumably are happy to watch it for free at home rather than pay a tenner to watch it in person.

Janie Watkins said...

One of the big draw backs this year is that the event is 3 weeks earlier. It's still January and most of Wales, like everyone else, is totally skint after Christmas.
Also last year the tournament fell on the half term holiday so all the kids were there all and families having days out.
This week the kids, hopefully, are in school and therefore can't come until the weekend. And probably therefore a lot of parents have said "we'll go with the kids at the weekend".

£12 is a lot of dosh to someone from the Valleys on the dole. Plus their travel costs of course.

Anonymous said...

Slightly off topic I know but I understand Leonard Nimoy (AKA Spock) is a snooker fan and is to make a visit to The Crucible for this years world championships.

G said...

Well what about the Hendry v Harold match? Match of the day surely? It's been a long time since we've seen Hendry play that well, devastating!

As an (obvious) Hendry supporter, it was great to see, but the real difference this time, was that his overall game was in great shape; his long potting was reminiscent of days gone by, his recovery shots to keep breaks going were going in, there was none of the unforced errors we've become accustomed to seeing. Would love to know what his match stats were ie; pot success, long pots, early in the match it was at 98% and I don't remember him missing much after that.

I do have a question for Dave though, (or more of an observation) do you think it might be anything to do with the new cue?? I know the cue doesn't make the man, but possibly the new cue has given him the impetuous to drive forward again, there is certainly a marked difference in his long potting. Willy Thorne remarked at the UK that it was strange that all his long pots were being missed on the thick side. I noticed at the Masters that he was playing better than he had for a while (with the new cue) , unfortunately so was Murphy! He got close to winning that match and but for a fluked blue, it would have been a final frame decider and any one's game. Also, at the Championship League (although the results didn't show it - 5 losses, 1 win!) he played well, his long pots were going in and the unforced errors weren't there. Had it been the longer format matches (which suit him more) I believe he would have done better, even the great Ronnie O Sullivan never made it passed the group stages.

As I said, more an observation, just wondered if anyone else noticed too? Long may it continue, whatever the reason!!


Anonymous said...

If anyone is interested I have a preview each day on snookerbacker.wordpress.com

Thanks Dave.

Dave H said...

He's never really been the same since his cue got broke (2003 British Open final excepted)

Anonymous said...

Was really annoyed last night watching eurosport.

When hendry/harold went for interval at 4-0 ,the coverage switched to day/drago which was great!

The atmosphere was great plenty of oohs aahs and c'mons - brilliant.

Then DISASTER - they decide to switch from a great match with drago 4-3 up and switch back to hendry/harold. no disrespect to harold ,but why leave a great match going all the way to watch a one sided affair and harold trying for 3 snookers on the pink?

jamie brannon said...

Although the cue was clearly a blow, it is more an age thing why Hendry has lost his way a fair bit. Even if he had his old cue I don't think he would have been winning much in the last four years. Don't forget he has won the Premier League, Malta Cup and been in a UK final since that incident. Also some of the stuff at the Crucible he played this year was vintage.

Anonymous said...

...because those of us who had tuned in and watched Hendry take that lead wanted to watch the end of the match, whehter it took place ten minutes after the interval, or 2 hours after it.

id have thought the answer to your question was very obvious!