10.4.13

THE CRUCIBLE CONTENDERS: ALI CARTER

When Ali Carter won the German Masters in February it yielded a third world ranking title, the same number as Mark Selby and Judd Trump have each won (though Carter is ten years older than Trump).

Selby and Trump have (so far) each appeared in one world final. Carter has been in two.

It seems to me the Essex man is all too easily underrated. I dare say there will be some who would say he shouldn’t be among my ten contenders for the world title.

Well, he is. And here’s why...

There are some players better suited to the tests of a long tournament than others and I think Carter is one of them. His Crucible record – two finals and a semi-final – back this up.

I’m not going to discuss his illness because that is a private matter but it’s worth remembering that it has had affected him and continues to. It’s a factor which renders form and bare results misleading.

Carter isn’t always the most consistent of players but at the World Championship you don’t necessarily have to be. The matches are so long that the odd bad session is not always going to spell disaster.

For instance, last year he lost the middle session of his second round clash with Judd Trump 6-2 to leave him trailing 9-7. But Carter stood up to the pressure better when it mattered, in the final session, and from 12-9 down won 13-12.

He’s a player who seems to find bursts of inspiration. In 2010, he was 8-4 down to Shaun Murphy in the quarter-finals but played four really good frames to make it 8-8 and won 13-12. A similar four frame spell came when trailing Neil Robertson 8-2 in the semis, although Robertson eventually won this match.

Carter’s big test this year could come in the second round against Ronnie O’Sullivan, his nemesis in two world finals and on plenty of other occasions.

However, this is surely his best chance to beat O’Sullivan on a big occasion. Ronnie has sat out the season. Carter has played solidly. He was a frame from reaching the UK Championship final, he won in Berlin and is match sharp.

If – and it of course remains a huge if – he did beat O’Sullivan then he would have the confidence and momentum to go all the way.

Carter is a combative character as befits someone who has had to fight harder than most. He doesn’t always paint the most cheerful picture of life on tour but is unfailingly honest in his opinions and motivations.

Last year, fuelled by Peter Ebdon’s organic carrot juice, he adopted a patient, safety-first approach for much of the championship, for which he needed and displayed great discipline.

But like all top players in this era, he can also score heavily. He’s made 25 centuries at the Crucible, only two fewer than Robertson.

Carter knows and probably accepts that he won’t be among the first five or six names put forward as likely world champions this year but he has the pedigree to be considered in the next wave of players who could ultimately prevail.

He has a genuine toughness of the sort you need to win a tournament so mentally testing and physically draining.

11 comments:

Anonymous said...

I think Ebdon wrecked his chances last year, because carter didn't play to his strengths. Ronnie was far from unbeatable last year, he certainly wasn't in the form he was in when he won it in 2008. Personally I think he's missed the boat.

Anonymous said...

Carter has a fantastic rhythmic cue action, plus bags of determination and mental strength. He has been unfortunate to run in to O'Sullivan in the 08 and 12 finals who played sublime and personally I don't think anyone could have beaten him.
A bad collapse from 8-4 up in the UK semi it may have looked, but Murphy just potted him off the table after the interval and it was more of a case Murphy winning than Carter throwing it away which has enabled Carter to have more success not long after I believe.

Only see 6 winning from the main draw - O'Sullivan, Carter, Bingham,Robertson, Ding and Selby.
Qualifiers - Fu, Gould and Woollaston.

Anonymous said...

Ronnie was unbeatable last year he ripped apart every player he faced he was sublime against williams I think he won 8 on the bounce or something like that. Carter has never beaten o'sullivan in any ranking tournament so he didn't stand a chance really and won't this year if they meet again. Every year everyone says its wide open when really only a handful of players win it. I'm going for ronnie or Higgins to come out of the top half of the draw and ding or robertson in the bottom half. I'm predicting a o'sullivan v ding final. Ronnie to win.

Anonymous said...

If anyone can go a whole season playing only 1 professional match and win the Worlds then it's Ronnie, but I think this is even a step to far for the great man. No fierce match snooker when it really matters for nearly a year must take it's toll. Ok he's been playing on the legends tour (made a 147 - big pockets) and doing exhibitions, but it's not the same thing.

Anonymous said...

Carter - with just one final this season (which he won), whilst he has much experience of the longer Sheffield format I would be surprised to see him win this year.

One tip - the last thing he needs to do is become an Ebdonesque grinder.

Crystal Gayle said...

Maybe if he will stand a chance if he stops adopting the hide and seek anti-snooker tactics that Ebdon passed on to him.


Still, his potting game is above decent but definitely not in the class of Trump, Robertson, Ding, O Sullivan, Allen, Murphy, Higgins and Selby even to name a few. His grind-to-a-win play also pales in comparison to Selby so nope, not one that i would place money on winning the thing.


Truth to be told, last year, the perennial underachiever Maguire squandered his chance against Carter in the semis.

Anonymous said...

Jimbo marches on to keep Crucible dream alive.
Now to put baby Milkens to bed !
Go on Jimmy.
What a story !

Anonymous said...

While White's two qual victories may have been against virtually unknown players, his appetite for the game and the affection for which he is held by the sporting public are almost without equal.
I too would love to see him descend those Crucible stairs once more.
What a reception he will receive.
Go on Jimmy !

Anonymous said...

It would be awesome if he qualified and drew Ronnie!

Anonymous said...

That would be some match !!

Anonymous said...

JIMMMMMMMMMMMMMMY !