If Neil Robertson or Matthew Stevens win the Haikou World Open – and one of them will be in the final – then it’ll be 13 different winners from the last 13 ranking tournaments.

In some ways the game has never been as open, but the titles are still shared around by a familiar group of names.

When the system changes next season and everyone comes in at the last 128 stage for all but three ranking events it will be interesting to see if this pattern remains or if some new faces start winning titles.

For the moment, it’s four players with major titles to their name in the semi-finals. The man to beat is surely John Higgins, superb yesterday against Ding Junhui.

Higgins had been in the doldrums since losing 6-5 to Mark Davis in the last 16 of the UK Championship in December but increasingly the top players are going through peaks and troughs in these lengthy seasons.

Higgins has roared back to form but Mark Allen, who has battled well without playing his very best this week, has beaten him three times out of eight.

One of these wins came in his second match as a professional at the 2005 Northern Ireland Trophy, which said a lot about Allen and his head for the big occasion.

Robertson will be favourite to beat Stevens despite the Welshman’s 5-3 St. David’s Day victory over Judd Trump.

The key moment of this match came before it had begun when Trump got his cue out of his case and found that the tip had become warped into a strange shape.

Quite how this happened isn’t clear. There was some suggestion he had put it in the case the wrong way round and it had gone into the join of his extension.

Whatever it was it certainly affected his performance, but Stevens still had to pot the balls and made a good break in the last frame to reach his first ranking tournament semi-final since last season’s World Championship.

It’s been a strange event: low crowds, cues going missing, a plague of flies in the arena, errant photographers putting players off and, in the Trump v Stevens match, flashing disco lights.

I wondered at first if this was leading to a return of the ghastly Harlem Shake from Newport but it seems someone flicked a switch by accident.

Snooker players have put up with a lot over the years and usually adapt to whatever is thrown at them but there’s been a surreal tone at times to the tournament.

Hopefully it’ll be a high quality finish.


Anonymous said...

The more I think about Trump's cue tip, the more uncomfortable I become.

Alan C said...

There sure has been a lot of oddities with this tournament, but i think it's refreshing to see so many top names playing well, or reasonably when it counts, unlike some recent tournaments.

As i can only see itv4 i was surprised today at just how clive everton got so many obvious facts wrong, like saying only John higgins has over 500 centuries in snooker, then been incorrectly corrected in saying that RoS does, but so does Trump.... For some a snooker factfile that Clive is, i was a bit shocked to say the least! think they need more rest!

Otherwise, i've actually enjoyed the quality and match make up a lot more than recent tournaments, set aside all the random peculiarities.

Anonymous said...

It looks to me someone definitely got to Trumps cue and tampered with his cue tip before his match today. Whether it was a practical joke or perhaps someone who doesn't like Trump for some reason, it amazes me the World number 1 didn't have a few mins practice before he entered the arena to be as sharp as possible from the very start.

Anonymous said...

Why do you think the Harlen Shake in Newport was ghastly?


Hi David, A great day's play, in today's Quarter-Finals, In my view.

Trump was unlucky that his tip was split. He got it changed. Stevens played well, to win, 5-3.

Robertson did well, to beat Selby, 5-3.

Allen played great, to beat Walden, 5-1.

Higgins was superb, playing-wise. He beat Ding, 5-0. Two century breaks, in the first two frames, were included.

I can't wait for more play, tomorow, thistime, in the Semi-Finals.

The line-up:

Robertson .V. Stevens.

Allen .V. Higgins.

It should be great. I can't wait.

The Blog said...

" low crowds"

I can understand some players frustration with the modern Barry Hearn-run era. I can't imagine there is much incentive in wanting to fly all that way to China to play in front of a few people. Mark Allen moaned about the World Open in Haikou last year:

"To fill his time at that particular tournament he told anyone who wanted to listen that the conditions were ‘horrendous’. He then went on to say: “Journey a nightmare. People are ignorant. Place stinks. Arena's rubbish, tables poor, food is horrendous. Other than that I love China.”

He went on to win the event! LOL

Janie Watkins said...

Could you up the font size on that article Dave, just for blind elderly journo!!


Anonymous said...

Anybody know what betting odds you could get on Stevens beating Trump, before the cue tip changed into a screwdriver head?

Anonymous said...

TV classic on ITV4 this morning as Jill & Neal collapse laughing after Neal recalls Clive Everton's fouling of a curry with his jacket sleeve the other evening ...

Anonymous said...

Janie, what browser are you using? You can alter the default font size if text in your browser is too small. Alternatively, you could install Opera browser that has a slide bar that you can simply move to change the text size in a web page if it's too small.

Anyway, this commentary in the Stevens/Robbo match is hilarious. Clive has spent the last nine frames calling Stevens a bottle merchant (or suffering from "clinchers disease" to use his vernacular). Foulds keeps trying to get off the subject and Clive keeps digging up an old result to make his point. This has the makings of a fine drinking game: down a single shot every time Stevens chokes on frame ball, a double every time Clive uses the phrase "clincher's disease" and a treble if Stevens loses a decider.

Anonymous said...

Two good semi finals, despite the ongoing pantomime.

Anonymous said...


Any idea where I can see this currygate incident as a number of people have commentated on it on twitter?

Anonymous said...

I swear, the way these cameramen zoom in to the pockets once a ball has dropped, they must think that one of these times, it's going to pop back up on to the table

Anonymous said...

9.35 - I'm sure there has been all sorts of naff stuff to 'warm up' snooker audiences (doesn't Dom Dale usually do a bit of Karaoke before the Welsh Open final?) but the BBC / World Snooker don't usually record and broadcast it like its some kind of big deal.

4.32 - basically Jill Douglas and Neal Foulds 'corpsed' (i.e. started giggling uncontrollably) after Neal compared a 'waistcoat foul' by Matthew Stevens to Clive accidentally dipping his jacket sleeve in curry earlier this week. Will probably appear in "it will be alright on the night" compilations for years to come...