Another engrossing day at the Betfair Masters saw Judd Trump and Shaun Murphy join the quarter-final line-up with the first round to be completed today.
We saw some exemplary sportsmanship from Ricky Walden last night. After getting the snooker he needed in the tenth frame against Murphy he could force a re-spot but, on the blue, committed a foul on the black unseen by anyone else and owned up.
Murphy, who had led 4-1, potted the blue to ensure his 6-4 victory and a meeting with John Higgins in the last eight.
I was amused by the way Twitter seemed to think Murphy should be carried shoulder high around London for telling a security guard that the ‘press could wait’ while he signed autographs in the arena.
In fact, much of the press had already left having filed the story of the day – Trump’s victory over Barry Hawkins – hours earlier.
Good on Shaun for wanting to sign as many as possible but the arena is the wrong forum for autographs because it is unwieldy with lots of people clamouring without any control.
If players want to sign autographs World Snooker can set up a stand in the foyer where, in proper British tradition, people can queue up, 15 minutes or so after play, which would give the players time to fulfil their media commitments. This has happened at many venues down the years.
Trump wore a pair of fancy shoes which, inevitably, were unsuitable for playing snooker in and which he had to change after two frames.
He was in trouble trailing Hawkins 5-3 but, as Neil Robertson had against Ding Junhui on the opening day, toughed through. Indeed, like Robertson, Trump made a winning break from the Hawkins break-off in the decider.
This was a very classy finish and I think an important win for Trump’s overall confidence.
And so to today...
MARK WILLIAMS v MATTHEW STEVENS
This match seems like a step back in time bearing in mind these Welshman played in the world final 13 years ago.
Neither has set the world alight of late and Stevens has in fact won only one match in the Masters since he won the title in 2000.
Williams, a twice champion, is looking for his first major title since capturing the 2011 German Masters.
I think this will be close and, if it is, I fancy MJW to prevail.
PREDICTION: Williams 6-5
MARK SELBY v STUART BINGHAM
Selby comes into the Masters, which he has won twice, as the man in form having won the UK Championship and the recent European Tour event in Germany.
Bingham was ill over the Christmas period, which affected his ability to practice. He was relegated from the second group of the Championship League last week.
However, Selby’s last two outings in the Masters have not been successful, losing first round to Mark King two years ago and in the quarter-finals to Murphy last season.
He will want to put that right tonight and has the confidence right now to do so.
PREDICTION: Selby 6-3