Yesterday, we were treated with two great semi final: John Higgins beat Ding Junhui in a deciding frame, Ronnie got the better of Mark Allen by 6-2 with an outstanding performance.
Ronnie and John have played each other countless times and Ronnie is slightly ahead in their head-to-head. More importantly, maybe, is that they have met 16 times in a final, with Ronnie winning 10 for 6 to John, including their sole World Final in 2011.
Here are the official reports from the event website.
John Higgins progressed to the final of the Dafabet Champion of Champions, edging out Ding Junhui in the deciding frame of a high-quality best-of-11 encounter at Coventry’s Ricoh Arena.
Scotland’s Higgins will now face the winner of this evening’s semi-final between Ronnie O’Sullivan and Mark Allen over 19 frames tomorrow.
Higgins and Ding kept in touch with one another throughout the match, sharing the first ten frames to set up a decider. Ding made four centuries along the way, including a 135 in the second frame and a 142 to take a 4-3 lead after the seventh.
The Dragon’, at the Dafabet Champion of Champions as 6-Reds and Shanghai Masters champion, could have gone 5-3 up in the eighth. Higgins had taken a 60-1 lead but was pegged back to SCORE before eventually taking the frame on the pink.
In the decider Higgins rattled off a quick 28 before missing a blue he would normally expect to make, but the Scot took his chance at his second visit and wrapped the frame up at 69-1 with a closing 41.
The ‘Wizard of Wishaw’ only joined the line-up for the tournament last week, and the China Championship winner was delighted to continue his rich vein of form despite a classy performance by Ding.
“I am over the moon,” said Higgins. “The last three or four times I have played Ding he has played like that, so I knew I had to play really good myself to have a chance. It was a good game.
“I enjoyed watching Ding play – he made four centuries and he was totally flawless. Ronnie and Steve are the greatest break builders the game has had and Ding is probably like Steve Davis – he is never more than four or five inches away from the object ball in each break, and you just sit and admire it.
“I know how good a player Ding is, so to beat him in that way and the way he played, it is one of your best wins because we all know how good he is.
“I will try and ride this form as best as I can, and hopefully I will play well tomorrow. Ronnie against Mark will be a great game tonight, Mark is a player who isn’t frightened of anybody and with conditions the way they are, that will suit Mark Allen with the little touch shots, little cannons and little flicks – he will be deadly there tonight and it will be a great game.”
The Dafabet Champion of Champions continues with the second semi-final between O’Sullivan and Allen this evening. The best of 19 final takes place over two sessions on Saturday.
Ronnie O’Sullivan played mesmerising snooker as he raced into the Dafabet Champion of Champions final, beating Mark Allen 6-2 to set up a clash against John Higgins at Coventry’s Ricoh Arena tomorrow.
The five-time World champion scored breaks of 130, 124 and 109 on his way to victory – the sold-out crowd also treated to two tonnes from Allen, who will feel he barely had an opportunity to prevent ‘The Rocket’, who was displaying some of his very best snooker.
When the Northern Irishman did have opportunities early in the match, he took them. Breaks of 100 and 109 kept him level with O’Sullivan at 2-2 at the interval. But after the break the Essex man scored quick breaks of 73, 129 and 109 to speed to 5-2 ahead and in the eighth frame he confirmed his place in the final.
O’Sullivan raised a laugh from the crowd as he literally threw the towel in after a 59 break in the final frame saw him seal his place in Saturday’s showpiece. It will be the 17th time ‘The Rocket’ has met Higgins in a final but the first since the 2007 Premier League; O’Sullivan has won ten of the previous 16.
“I felt in control of my game, which was nice because it has been a bit of a struggle lately,” said O’Sullivan. “Mark is a really top match player and he has been cueing really well for a few years, so I had to play well tonight to beat him.
“The first four frames I probably wasn’t playing a good enough standard to win it, but I played well after the interval.
“John and I came through at the same time, so we will have played each other quite a lot between us and he is an amazing player. John is the man in form. He has played steady all season and took it up a notch and played brilliantly in China.
“He is at the stage at the moment where he is very comfortable with his game and he will want to ride that wave as long as he can. I will have to play good, solid, snooker tomorrow.”
Allen commented: “That is what it is taking to beat me right now, so I have to take the positives out of it. I don’t feel that I made that many mistakes, one or two loose safeties, but against the top players that can be the difference.
“He never looked like missing. It is a match I have lost 6-2 but I enjoyed it. That is what you want to play snooker for, to play the very best players, on the biggest stage, in the big tournaments. Sometimes you have to hold your hand up and say your opponent was too good. If he plays like that he is going to be hard to stop.”
The Dafabet Champion of Champions final takes place over 19 frames on Saturday, with nine frames played in the afternoon session from 1pm and the matched played to a conclusion from 7pm in the evening session.
Ronnie’s Cue&A feature before the match … and some banter about his new book.
Ronnie v Mark Allen Semi Final:
Ronnie’s naughty interview after the match:
Obviously, Ronnie is not a fan of the 128 at the venue, nor he is a fan of the conveyor belt type of snooker event. The way he expressed himself, I expected outraged reactions on social media. I didn’t happen: actually other pros, including lower ranked players, expressed their agreement with what he said.