Ali Carter, the new Betfair German Masters champion, is one of snooker’s fighters. And he’s had to be.

He’s had to fight just to keep his career going in the face of a troubling medical condition which has affected him both physically and mentally.

Last season, Carter threatened to retire. This was not a kneejerk reaction to losing a match but the accumulation of years of struggle with Crohn’s disease. He had another operation recently in an attempt to control it.

He didn’t retire but snooker could not always be his priority. This is why his run to last year’s World Championship final was so impressive as it came in the face of much bigger problems than potting balls.

He said he hadn’t practised much for Berlin. He arrived in Germany only to find his cue hadn’t been put on the flight. He was reunited with it only an hour before his first match and found himself 3-1 down to Fraser Patrick.

However, Carter said the sudden realisation that he might not have been able to play at all, or at least only with a borrowed cue, somehow gave him a new lease of life and he came through 5-3 before embarking on a run to the final.

He played his best snooker of the tournament in last night’s final session. Trailing Marco Fu 5-3 at the resumption Carter made his first century of the tournament and then, in the next frame, promptly made another.

It put Fu under pressure and he failed to respond. Carter won six of the evening’s seven frames to run out 9-6. It was in some ways reminiscent of his recovery from 5-2 down to beat Joe Swail 9-5 and win the 2009 Welsh Open, his first ranking title.

Carter has won three ranking titles, the same number as the world no.1, Mark Selby, and the world no.2, Judd Trump, although he is ten years older than the latter.

He said afterwards that he sometimes forgets how good he is as he is rarely talked about in the front wave of tournament favourites – Selby, Trump, John Higgins and Neil Robertson.

But he can be very satisfied and proud of his victory last night, coming as it did against a backdrop of difficulties most players can only speculate about.

The final was not as dramatic as last year’s Ronnie O’Sullivan comeback against Stephen Maguire and the atmosphere thus not quite as memorable. But only not quite. The German fans, as they had all week, displayed huge enthusiasm. For them, the identity of the finalists was secondary to the experience of being there, watching live snooker.

Even the final referee, Olivier Marteel, was given a rousing reception usually reserved for rock stars.

I can recommend the trip to snooker fans wherever they live. Berlin is a fascinating, historic and welcoming city. There is much to see and do away from the snooker.

And the Tempodrom is a superb venue. It is widely assumed the World Championship will go to China if it ever leaves the Crucible.

Financially that makes perfect sense, but I suspect many players would rather it came to Germany, where a television boom has created a snooker-loving constituency who are already looking forward to the next time the game hits town.


John McBride said...

Firstly, I’m so pleased that Snooker players are starting to get the fabulous reception from crowds that they so thoroughly deserve. The Temperdrome really does come across a fantastic venue & fair play to the crowds for coming along & supporting this event & showing the players, & officials, so much respect. This can only bode well for our game & gives the up & coming Pro’s something to aspire too. Playing in front of such wonderful audiences is a wonderful motivation for them too.

I was also pleased to see Marco Fu reminding us of what a good solid player he is. He works hard & it’s great to see him getting the right rewards hard work brings.

As we all know, Ali Carter is one of the best cueists in our game & it’s great to see him back in the winner’s circle again. That, will certainly make him feel good. Good luck to him.

Finally, something that I have noticed in the past few tournaments is that lesser ranked players are becoming a lot more comfortable playing in the pressure cauldron that the latter stages of tournaments brings. This is obviously down to playing a lot more in these conditions & getting used to playing while ‘under it’. Our game really is in good shape at the moment & how wonderful that is to see.

kimball said...

To put the Wch ship on a rotating schedule would make more sense.Sheffield every 2nd year, then
Berlin and Beijing and eventually
China every 2nd year. Would probably make sense in eight years time with a new crop of chinese players making an
impact to keep chinese spectators on
their toes.

Anonymous said...

Thanks Dave.
When exactly during Feb does the deadline for WC applications expire ?

What is the word on Ronnie's plans ?

Ray said...

My utmost admiration goes to Ali Carter for not retiring 14 months ago. His determination helped him to carry on playing and now he's a winner again. And what a great place to win. The German audience is always very respectful and it makes me quite emotional for all the adulation shown for this wonderful game.

Carter should believe he's as good as anyone out there and there's nothing stopping him going on to win the World Title.

All the whingers should take note and grow up.

Anonymous said...

I find it only fair to treat players equally if they reach a semi or a final, independend of the name or ranking. And so I were among the frenetic audience, clapping my hands rough.

ATNotts said...

I absolutely endorse your comments regarding the Tempodrom and the World Championship. Notwithstanding that for reasons of tradition, the event is never likely to leave The Crucible, the Tempodrom would be a fantastic venue - probably far superior than anything China could offer, atmospherewise.

So much of the credit for German enthusiasm for Snooker has to be given to Eurosport, and in particular to Rolf Kolb, who's commentary and enthusiasm for the game is second to none.

It would be interesting for Eurosport Germany to run some sort of "reality TV" series to find the first German Snooker star. To do so would really cement the game in the hearts of the German population.

Anonymous said...

Having attended many Crucible finals, I plan to go to Berlin this time next year because the atmosphere seemed so good.

I was watching the feed before the evening session and even the Ref had his own walk on music !!!

And the Eurosport coverage is so much more rounded when the lads get to commentate from the venue rather than (presumably) the London studio.

Anonymous said...

I knew we couldn't have a thread without a mention of Ronnie.

Anonymous said...

The game is all about the moment Ronnie decides to unretire from the game.
Everything leading up to that is pure dross.
He will dominate the game in the way he did during previous years.

Anonymous said...

put your brown tongue away 11.28

Anonymous said...

The game is poorer for Ronnie's absence. The reality is that we will never see the game played better that the way he plays. Fact.
Whilst there remains a possibility of his involvement then it's only reasonable that his name will appear.

Anonymous said...

1128 is spot on. This whole season has been a poor B movie leading up to Lawrence of Arabia.

Anonymous said...

To be the best, you have to beat the best.
The best is out of the game at the moment.

Like tennis without Federer.

Anonymous said...

I'm not a Ronnie fan

I am a fan of entertaining snooker so I miss Ronnie.

Too many matches see the top players struck down by ?nerves? ?tension? I don't know what, but it makes for dull frames at times.

Anonymous said...

The proper events this season have produced less proper winner because of the absence of the current world champion.

The 2013WC will become an anti-climax to an already uninteresting season, unless Ronnie returns to defend his title.

Anonymous said...

The thing is, the comments here do reflect the mainstream media coverage in the UK: for about 15 years it has all been about Ronnie. At the weekend the papers and popular websites had lots of coverage of Ronnie getting engaged to some actress, but barely a mention of the German Masters (even though it was on TV in 80+ countries and probably attracted 20-25,000 spectators across the 5 days).

FWIW I and most snooker fans want to see Ronnie defend his title but I do mean defend (i.e. turn up and play at his mesmerising best, not just turn up). I think the key is whether Ronnie is spending any time with Dr Steve Peters?

Anonymous said...

After the Worlds this year it'll be a case of: could Selby have completed his triple crown if O'Sullivan would have been in the Championship.

Anonymous said...

To go with the "could Ronnie have won in 2012 if Selby was fully fit"?