John Higgins may not have things all his own way today in the Sanyuan Foods China Open against Fergal O’Brien, who remains a fiercely determined snooker hard man.

O’Brien’s season began so badly – he lost his opening match in the first three ranking tournaments – that by Christmas he had thoughts of dropping off the circuit.

He has since qualified for the Welsh Open, the Crucible and beat Sam Baird 5-2 at Prestatyn to make the trip to Beijing.

The Dubliner joined a running club last year to work on his fitness. So many snooker players are following Ronnie O’Sullivan’s lead in this regard that it may be our sport’s best hope of getting into the Olympics.

“People might be surprised to hear that I’m quite fast,” the methodical Fergal told me.

Higgins won the 1999 China International in Shanghai and was runner-up to Peter Ebdon last year but, generally, he doesn’t fair that well in China.

With the Betfred.com World Championship just around the corner he can be forgiven for having his focus distracted by the defence of his Crucible crown.

All that said, if he plays the sort of snooker he’s produced for the last year then he’ll coast through.

If Higgins reaches the Beijing semi-finals and goes as far at Sheffield he will equal the record for eight successive ranking event semi-finals held jointly by Steve Davis and Stephen Hendry.

Today’s first TV match pits Marco Fu against Bjorn Haneveer. They’ve never played as professionals but, in 1997, Fu beat the Belgian 11-7 to win the IBSF World Under 21 Championship.

The Hong Kong man has had a wretched season in ranking tournaments, winning just one match, in last September’s Shanghai Masters.

However, in the Championship League he was awesome and that’s the sort of form he needs to start producing in the game’s major events to restore some much needed confidence.


Anonymous said...

Snooker © The Fine Art Method
A secret is wasted if not shared
Hello Dave
How are you! Thanks for the past “Fine Art” posts lad. It has taken courage to buck the system. Barry and Steve’s proposal to retain the “Commercial Rights” of snooker is wrong and really is not negotiable as the game doesn’t belong to anyone.

Barry and Steve are really reinventing and buying for a few bob the Joe Davis copyright on coaching snooker.
“Commercial Rights” is similar to buying a copyright, but also means a future copyright or money making ideas will belong to Barry, Steve and the other two ”Share Holders”.

Barry and Steve should get there chance to rescue snooker but not with such an unfair condition. The other board members must be aware that the offer is commercially unbalanced.

Selling the games “Commercial Rights” would make the game impossible to sell to a genuine snooker lover or a Russian or Middle East football Billionaire.

Snooker is in its infancy and the only game/sport along with pool that will be played competitively between men and women. Mr hey you

Kildare Cueman said...

Im wondering, if the players vote for the Hearn proposal, will he keep the commercial rights forever, or is just while he is chairman.

If, and I know its a big if, a better proposal came along, like Hey You's billionaire, and the players decide to replace Hearn, can they? What happens to the commercial rights if Hearn has hit his targets?

Im not trying to be negative, but I would be far more concerned with the long term implications than the next season or two, and while Im fully in favour of Hearn having "Carte blanche", these details will need to be ironed out.

Regarding all the talk about commentators, I think players are being a bit hard on Thorne.

I know he talks too much and can be patronising, but his ability to convey his technical expertise to the viewer is quite good.

Mike Hallett, on the other hand, drives me to distraction with his thinking out loud commentary.

Please tell him he does not have to predict EVERY shot. Some of us have played the game.

He also makes me cringe when, with several reds and colours welded to cushions, a player misses when 45 in front and Hallett pipes up; "That shot could cost him the frame"

I wonder sometimes if hes paid by the word.

I think Neal Foulds is the best commentator by a mile.

Unknown said...

Hi Dave

Have been enjoying The China Open and coverage on Eurosport. Do you know what match will be featured in the morning??? Will it be Peter Ebdon v Judd Trump or Stephen Hendry v Andrew Higginson?

Is there a way of finding out beforehand what matches will be on tv?



Anonymous said...

David, do you know tomorrows' live games please?

Dave H said...

Hendry v Higginson first then O'Sullivan v Tian

Demon Potter said...

Is 'methodical" in relation to O'Brien, just a polite way of saying "boring"?

Anonymous said...

Snooker © The Fine Art Method
A secret is wasted if not shared
Hi Dave
How’s tricks lad! There seems to be some controversy over Snooker Commentators. Big Willie does a great job with a very repetitive subject to work on.

Please remember lads that the game is in bother because of its sameness. The game is dull and predictable and there are no “New Words” to describe a shot. (unless borrowed).

The job originated when the game was awash with Tobacco money. A strong voice declared after “Old Ted” finished that the job did not require two professional players.
The non pro commentator told us the family heritage of the players and there favourite tipple. The pro player told us sometimes rightly the technique of the game

A non pro player recently told us on TV that the reason why the cue ball didn’t reach the cushion was, “It was not hit hard enough” and the next comment by the same player was the reason the ball bounced off the cushion was, “It was hit too hard”. (Ponderous Observations}!

The Commentators in future will be top class snooker coachs but mostly teaching the viewer the mechanics of the balls. Mr hey you

jamie brannon said...

Surely that is it for Ronnie holding onto number one? I think it is a myth, but he has had a lack of interest when over there, but nothing more than he does here sometimes.

Anonymous said...

more rubbish Jamie

hes just not as good (consistently) as he used to be

Higgins will be a well deserved number 1. outstanding person and figurehead to champion snookers cause

jamie brannon said...

Well he has been in three finals this year, winning one and also appeared in two semis, so he is hardly lost it, but his awesome best has not been in such evidence.

I have the utmost respect for Higgins as a player and he seems a nice chap, but he doesn't get bums on seats or the pulse racing in quite the same way.