What did we learn from day one of the PTC grand finals in Galway yesterday?
Chiefly, that there will be some late nights this week. Of the six matches, two finished 4-0 and yet play still didn’t finish until midnight.
The finals are following the same format as the European Tour events with six matches a day but in those tournaments the first couple of games are usually slaps – a top pro against an amateur – whereas in Galway it’s top players competing for a six figure first prize in a series of competitive matches so it’s going to take longer. Much longer.
In some ways it is desirable to have snooker all day long. Nobody has to watch it all but it’s there to dip in and out of. However, if people are going to bed before the day’s play is done then that is less desirable.
Mark Selby, usually so reliable in deciders, was anything but as he was beaten 4-3 by Jack Lisowski in last night’s last match.
Credit must go to Lisowski. I remember talking to him last year after he lost 4-0 to Neil Robertson and he admitted to having been overawed by the occasion of playing a top player live on television.
But all players must learn from such experiences and Jack has won TV matches this season and is now definitely one to follow this week.
Joe Swail, yet again, produced a comeback both unlikely and enthralling as he beat Stephen Maguire 4-3 having trailed 3-0.
This was the latest in a long line of Swail recoveries. One of them is little known but a result Maguire still rates as one of his most disappointing.
It came in the final qualifying round of the 2000 World Championship. Maguire was in his first season as a professional and, leading 9-6, needed just the pink to a middle pocket to qualify for the Crucible.
He missed it and Swail beat him 10-9. It isn’t unlikely that this was somewhere in Maguire’s mind yesterday as Swail was coming back at him.
Swail has entered the WPBSA member's stage of World Championship qualifying. If anyone is going to have a run through the qualifiers from this starting point it's the Belfast man.
Otherwise, Neil Robertson was professionalism exemplified in recovering to beat Jamie Burnett 4-2 and Mark Allen, seeking to become the first player to win back-to-back ranking titles in the same season for ten years, potted the pressure balls to see off Mark Davis 4-0.
Two main points of interest today: John Higgins and Ali Carter, both ranking title winners this season, meet each other and Judd Trump, who needs two more centuries to break Selby’s seasonal record, is up against Alfie Burden.
I predict this match will help reduce the backlog of matches through it’s brevity – whatever the score.