There was an extraordinary finish to Martin Gould’s comeback victory against Ding Junhui yesterday that served to underline the dramatically unpredictable nature of snooker.

Gould was snookered on the blue in the eighth frame but, coming off the side cushion, knocked it in and got a full ball contact on the black, which left him on the pink.

However, in doing so he pushed the black to the side cushion and was left with a really tough pot using the rest for victory.

And typically for Gould, he didn’t shrink from taking it on. There was nothing lucky about this winning pot. It was superb and capped an unexpected recovery after he had struggled so badly in trailing 3-0.

The packed house at the Grand Stage weren’t exactly delighted to see Ding go out but had witnessed the sort of theatre that has kept so many snooker fans coming back for more over the years.

Gould will now play Matthew Stevens for a quarter-final place after the Welshman beat Stephen Lee 5-2.

There was a time where Stephen Hendry playing on table three would have been regarded as sacrilege, but this is 2011 and the seven times world champion is struggling.

His 5-1 defeat to Robert Milkins effectively relegates him from the top 16 after 23 years.

Hendry doesn’t want any sympathy. He admitted that his game is nowhere at the moment and that he’ll have to qualify for the UK Championship.

(On a point of pedantry, he has had to qualify for various events overseas since joining the top 16 in 1988 because the elite group weren’t always seeded through to the venues.)

This will be tough for Hendry to take but maybe with the pressure of not trying to hold on to a top 16 place lifted he will find some form. Or maybe not. I don’t think the qualifying environment will provide him with much inspiration.

Anthony Hamilton has beaten Ronnie O’Sullivan only once in their nine previous meetings. He made three centuries against Stephen Maguire but he will have to beat O’Sullivan on a TV table in front of a partisan crowd, no easy task for the Sheriff of the well known mythical land of Pottingham.

One of the best matches of the day is likely to be John Higgins v Stuart Bingham. Higgins was efficient enough in dispatching Mark Davis but his concentration seemed to go walkabout midway through the match.

Bingham was superb in beating Judd Trump 5-1, making two centuries as he continues to ride the crest of a wave of confidence that has come his way since landing the Australian Open crown two months ago.

Neil Robertson, who beat Liang Wenbo, has never been past the last 16 of a ranking event in China, a strange anomaly he will be hoping to change when he tackles Michael Holt, who put away Graeme Dott in an encouraging result yesterday.


Anonymous said...

It's sad to see Hendry slip down the rankings but at least the qualification for the UK is taking place at South West Snooker Academy.
Hendry will no doubt be given the main arena tv table for his match and the fans can come and watch.
Not quite the Crucible but a much better situation than the empty booths in Sheffield.

jamie brannon said...

You say that Hendry won't want a Masters wildcard, but the question is: Will he recieve one?

Disappointed to see Ronnie exit but he went out to one of my favourites, who I now hope goes on and shakes his maiden tag.

Anonymous said...

Jimmy and Davis got wildcards year after year for it, so yeah, give Hendry the wildcard this season. If he doesn't get back into the top 16 by the end of the season he will probably call it a day, so it could be our last chance to see him on TV.