Ali Carter’s consistency over the last two years has been the key in him rising to second in the world rankings but, like any top player, what he wants is titles.
He won his second ranking event with a hard fought 10-7 victory over Jamie Burnett in the Shanghai Masters.
Neither player was at their best. Burnett played some good safety but couldn’t score.
Carter made a hatful of mistakes and must have been frustrated by his inability to hit the heights but, crucially, he kept these frustrations in check, got his head down and worked hard to scrap to victory.
This ability to graft out results when a player’s A game is not firing is the mark of a champion.
In my profile of him two months ago, I wrote: “I’d be surprised if there weren’t more titles for Carter. After a few false starts he has managed to ally his self confidence to his game and find the winning formula.”
This still very much applies. Winning breeds winning and as long as Carter continues to look forward rather than dwelling on his latest success he has an excellent chance to take over as world no.1, although this now changes by tournament as in tennis and there’s no more prestige in being world no.1 after the World Championship than there is in being there after the Welsh Open.
The Shanghai Masters wasn’t a vintage event by any means and surely ticket prices have to be lowered to allow more ordinary Chinese a chance to watch.
I’ve seen first hand the enthusiasm of Chinese snooker fans but if they are priced out of watching the top stars they could well drift away from the game.
There is currently a huge gulf between the genuine fanaticism legions of Chinese have for snooker and the number of people who show up at tournaments. It creates a false impression that the China snooker boom is a myth.
Finally, a word for Jamie Burnett. Whatever the future holds for him he should be proud of his run to the final, which was 18 years in the making.
It proves that though snooker’s leading men are always going to be there or thereabouts, the supporting cast runs deep with talent and virtually anyone can, under the right conditions, burst out of the pack and grab the limelight.