Spectators at the Shanghai Masters certainly got their money's worth yesterday with several close, absorbing matches.

Jamie Cope's victory over Mark Selby went against type. Too often in the past Cope has lost heart in the heat of battle but this time he was determined and matched Selby's tactical play.

It was Cope who won the close frames: one on the pink and two on the black to knock out the defending champion.

The last frame of the Stephen Maguire-Peter Ebdon match, which lasted 75 minutes, was a comedy of errors, it was just that no one was laughing.

As Ebdon doggedly played on for snookers, Maguire became so frustrated that he could barely do anything right. The contest finally ended with Ebdon accidentally potting the final pink. It felt like the only way it could end.

The 2002 world champion had been involved in a lengthy exchange with the referee, Zhu Ying, about her decision to award Maguire a free ball in the decider. Ebdon was adamant she was wrong.

Zhu impressed me with her calm explanation and she appeared to be absolutely right. In the end, though, this was not the determining factor in the eventual result.

Mark King broke several hearts by beating Ding Junhui, who made another disappointingly early exit from a tournament in his home country.

Ding led 3-0. King won 5-4. He was helped in the decider by Ding attempting a low percentage red.

Shaun Murphy also led 3-0 but only beat Dominic Dale 5-4. Dale played superbly from 4-2 down, with Murphy having only one shot as breaks of 75 and 100 forced the decider.

There is a different pressure though in a decider and Murphy stood up to it, as did Ali Carter against Robert Milkins.

Today's big match is Judd Trump v Barry Hawkins. There have been several tough first rounders for the seeds but this is brutal: the world no.2 v the winner of the last full ranking tournament.

Hawkins has every reason to feel confident after his success in Australia. He has since beaten Trump in a PTC.

Trump is yet to fly this season but it is a long campaign. It was in China last year that he broke through in a big way, winning in Beijing.

A natural crowd pleaser, he will enjoy plenty of support. But as Ding will tell you, this doesn't guarantee success.


Daniel said...

I don't understand why Ebdon believed it was no free ball. He obviously didn't understand the free ball rule at all...

Anonymous said...

Certainly games of "two halves" today (Wed) with Higgins & Trump on fire after the interval.

Very entertaining

Anonymous said...

Quitef frankly you couldn't make it up.',,,,