What a fine performance from Stephen Hendry last night. Heavy scoring, strong concentration and bags of determination: it couldn’t have been more of a contrast from his disappointing 5-3 reverse to martin Gould at the same stage last year.

I’m sure Stephen won’t be getting carried away by this but I’m equally sure he will be very satisfied. His challenge now is to keep it going.

Tonight, he faces Ryan Day in the second round. Day scraped through 5-4 against Tony Drago last night in a nerve jangling encounter that had to be watched, in the Doctor Who tradition, from behind a sofa.

Drago is snooker’s version of a high wire walker: you watch him full of dread thinking he’ll fall off at any moment but also know there’s half a chance he will actually make it to the other side.

I was disappointed for Tony because he did so well to come through four qualifying rounds and reach Newport and also there are few players who love the game as much as him.

At least he has given himself every chance of remaining on the tour for another season.

The other second round match tonight pits defending champion Ali Carter against Neil Robertson.

They met at the same stage of last year’s World Championship where Robertson made a succession of steely clearances to win 13-8.

In the first round this afternoon, newly crowned Masters champion Mark Selby will be setting out on his bid to emulate his feat of two years ago and immediately win the Welsh Open.

Judd Trump could cause him a few difficulties but Selby is in the ascendancy and will be favourite to progress.

Ding Junhui wasn’t sharp at Wembley but he’s had a fortnight to get ready for Newport. Jamie Cope is a dangerous player but has not really kicked on since reaching two ranking finals in the 2006/07 season.

John Higgins won the Welsh Open title ten years ago. It’s never been his favourite tournament but he’ll be expected to come past Michael Judge.

Mark Williams’s record breaking run of 48 consecutive opening round victories in ranking events was ended by Fergal O’Brien at the 2003 UK Championship.

O’Brien has won only one match all season – to qualify last week – and Williams was flying at Wembley so a home victory appears likely.

The quality of the play has not been matched by crowd turnout. Also, table two is such a tight set up that it reminds me of the old Steptoe and Son episode where they install a snooker table without any room to play, so have to cue through the windows.

Harold, you’ll recall, is already out.


The Snooker Oracle said...

It was great to see Hendry play so well last night. He has rarely followed a good performance with another for the last few seasons but there must be a real chance he can tonight - looking forward to it. I think this afternoon might come a little bit quickly for Mark Selby and first round opponents don't come any tougher than Mr Trump. Fresh from some blitzing performances in the Championship League I think he could beat Selby this afternoon if he gets off to a good start! At 2/1 it's a very generous price!

Keep up the good commentary Dave, I am enjoying the Eurosport coverage.

The Snooker Oracle

jamie brannon said...

I thought the crowd looked better yesterday at least for Ronnie's game. In the past the event has coincided with half term so that may have hit it. I think the event was moved due to the Winter Olympics. Dave, it is often said how damaging it is for a player in the top 16 not to win his opener because of the ranking points, does a qualifier suffer as much? I ask mainly as I was thinking that although Drago lost last night, will it hamper him that much in his bid to stay on the main tour? As with two events left you would feel he may have done enough already.

Anonymous said...

why are only the top 64 guaranteed a place on the tour next year? when was this decided?

Dave H said...

It's the top 64 plus the top eight on the one year list, as it has been for several seasons

Anonymous said...


ranking points and provisional rankings are available on the world snooker website, so youll be able to see how exactly it affects big tone

jamie brannon said...

I know that, but you never seem to hear the commentator talk so much about how damaging it is for a qualifier to lose in the opening round. I think Drago has won ten games this year so on the one year list I would think he should be okay. Also I reckon he will be about provisional 55 after this event. The Racing Post tipped Mark Williams and with the form he is in then it could be a great selection.

Finn said...

Global snooker are updating the prov rankings each day after close of play at welsh open, think drago was mid fifties after last night

Anonymous said...

most of the commentators who arent on the bbc are fairly useless IMHO anyway Jamie.

Dave is about your best bet outwith the bbc (not all on the bbc are great, but at least they done need to keep saying my apologies every few minutes)

Dave H said...

Commentary is pretty easy when you are sat in the arena and spoonfed information

It's not quite so easy when you're not

Andrew said...

Jamie - it's damaging for any player to lose his first match in an event, as then they only get half the ranking points. Qualifiers in the last 32 have already avoided this in qualifying; they're guaranteed to get 1400 points, whereas seeds who lose in the first round get 700.

Anonymous said...

Dave H "It's not quite so easy when you're not"

It's got to be a whole lot easier than a 10 hour shift!