So the one table stage of the Betfred.com World Championship is here and, to trot out the old cliche, this is where the Crucible comes into its own.

Here's another fact that bears repetition: the players have so far won 36 frames apiece. They still need to win another 35 to become champion.

It's a fascinating line-up featuring two great former champions and two young pretenders to the throne.

Judd Trump carried on in the same merciless style he has displayed all through the tournament as he put Graeme Dott to the sword yesterday.

Dott made a good point when he said the test for Trump will be what happens if he has a bad session, how he handles something going against him.

But of course there's no guarantee that he will. Whatever happens, he's been a breath of fresh (h)air and has built up a fanbase who have loved his entertaining brand of snooker.

I thought Ding showed real fighting qualities yesterday against Mark Selby. Ding played the better safety during the second session and stopped Selby going on the attack.

Selby came back at him last night but could not finish the job and suggestions that Ding can't handle the Crucible pressure must surely now be a thing of the past.

He beat Trump in the qualifiers of the 2005 UK Championship, a tournament he went on to win, but Trump has now come of age so this could be close.

Trump is the youngest Crucible semi-finalist since Ronnie O'Sullivan, 20, reached that stage in 1996.

Mark Williams is now guaranteed to be world no.1 at the start of next season, returning to top spot after a gap of seven years.

He has played superbly so far but I still reckon he can go up a couple of gears if required.

The Welshman beat John Higgins in the Crucible semi-finals in 1999 and 2000, as I posted about here.

Higgins hasn't played at the very top of his game but produced a much better performance last night to see off O'Sullivan.

Much has been made of the fluke he got in the last frame - and he was lucky - but he was let off the hook in the afternoon.

O'Sullivan simply missed too many and made unforced errors. He said afterwards that he played like an amateur. He didn't. He is still good enough to beat 95% of the players.

The problem is the other 5%. O'Sullivan has lost some of the fear factor as his game has failed to fire. The example of Williams, though, tells him that he can get it back if he wants to.

So the stage is set for the denouement of this great event featuring a fantastic foursome. Ding v Trump, Williams v Higgins: the title is still wide open.


kildare cueman said...

Told you Selby would bottle it. Great to see him out. two watchable semis now

jamie brannon said...

He didn't play like an amateur but he said that he missed a few like an amateur, which wasn't far off the mark.

Personally, O'Sullivan hadn't played enough matches this season, hence the mistakes at key times. He played good in this event but will need to step it up next season.

However take great heart in the way he is talking about the game and his application at the table.

It is a fantastic line-up and remain on course to tipping the winner for the second consecutive season. Want Ding to win for more reasons than that, though.

jamie brannon said...

Also don't know if you heard with your commentary duty but Rishi Persad thinks you are a legend! This was in reference to your stats.

Kelly said...

A great semi line-up we have got this year, all four of them are capable and deserve to win a title.

Shame that O'Sullivan made many silly mistakes last night. He did better in the afternoon session but failed to hold a lead before last session.
I believe O'Sullivan will get back next season, he is still good enough to win a title. He can win over everybody if he wants to win.
Though O'Sullivan lost in quarter, but I am glad to see him play with a favorable attitude in the matches he played in WC.

I am delighted to see how Ding coped with pressure last night. He can win over Trump if he keeps this. :-)

kildare cueman said...

Thought O'Sullivan played well and produced some fantastic breaks, but just missed too many easy balls when in.
From 8-5 to 8-8 he had Higgins rattled but let him off the hook.
Think he would have beaten Williams but not sure Higgins will.
The other semi should be a potfest. Looking forward to it.
Trump is a refreshing presence in the tournament and may go all the way.

NewsBrain said...

Great to see Selby out? The guy knocked in half a dozen centuries!
Great to see dismal Dott out. Amazing that a kids has to show the pros how not to get sucked into dismal dott's unremitting negativity. All the other negative players out before the quarters too.

jamie brannon said...

Dott can't be classed as a negative player. During the match against Mark King he was averaging 18 seconds a shot.

The 'Pocket Dynamo' has evolved from his grinding days of 2006.

In fact, occasionally think he is not playing his very good tactical game as much as he should.

Excellent start to the first semi. Trump's cue power is a sight to behold.

Also great to see Stephen Hendry bring some gravitas to the commentary box.

And, despite my reservations, felt pleased by his annoucement that he is going to play on with full commitment to the new expanded calendar. I felt a twinge of the old affiliation for the great man. Partly, because fed of up hearing that he wasn't much good by people who never witnessed his pomp or just blindly think the game has moved to a level that in his day was weaker, which it most definitely was not.

Anonymous said...

dott can be very negative and has shown to be negative on many many occasions

i wouldnt class him as negative, but his all round game gives him the opportunity to win just by being negative....as well as playing swift attacking snooker if need be.


Hi Davi. Great Starts to both Semi-Finals yesterday.


Great news from Apil 28th, 2011, that the lrgend that is Stephen Hendry, is NOT retiring.


Hi David. To correct my previous comment, i meant to say "April 28th, 2011."

Anonymous said...

but you meant lrgend?