With only one last 16 match to be played to a conclusion, and plenty of time on my hands thanks to two early finishes this afternoon, I decided to write a bit of a QFs preview after all …
Mark Selby v Neil Robertson or Marco Fu
I wasn’t particularly impressed with Mark Selby’s form up to now, but then, 1. I didn’t watch every ball he played, in fact I probably watched his worst session, the second of his last 16 match, 2. he did more than enough anyway and we all know how he can up his game when he needs to. Regarding Marco Fu and Neil Robertson, very little if anything separates them, and the current 8-8 scoreline reflects exactly that. Do they play well? Yes. Do they look unbeatable? No. So what do I make of this match? Well this will be the one revealing exactly how sharp Mark Selby is. If he is on form, there is only one winner, the defending champion. Between Marco and Neil I feel that, on form, Marco is most likely to cause Mark Selby problems. Predicted winner: Mark Selby.
Ronnie v Ding Junhui
Both of them played very well and looked focused in the last 16. It’s very difficult to call a winner here, based on what we have seen so far. History favours Ronnie who has won 8 of their 9 encounters in main professional events (non-league) and whose only defeat to Ding came in 2006 … Of course Ding has matured as a player and a man and reaching the final at the Crucible last year will give him confidence. Yet, I think Ronnie is the favourite in this one. Predicted winner: Ronnie
John Higgins v Kyren Wilson
John Higgins played impressively well against Mark Allen to reach this stage. Kyren Wilson may not have impressed as much, but he did beat Stuart Bingham fair and square and it came down to sheer will to win and keeping his calm and focus through the battle. Does he have a chance. Yes, definitely. Is he favourite, no, probably not, although Higgins hasn’t been the most consistent player through the season and has shown vulnerability under pressure at times. Would I love to see Kyren win? Oh yes. He’s the only under 30 player remaining in the field. Predicted winner: John Higgins
Stephen Maguire v Barry Hawkins
Now this is a clash of styles and personalities. Maguire can be absolutely brilliant but he can also be quite volatile and is prone to surrender to frustration when things go against him. Hawkins is solid, very solid, not spectacular but strong, in his game – one of the best all-round games on the tour – and mentally. He will try to the last ball whatever is thrown at him and he has a very good record at the Crucible over the last years. Therefore I’ll side with him. Predicted winner: Barry Hawkins
Other than that the media provided some bizarre pieces …
Mark Allen gave this post-match interview after his defeat to John Higgins only to claim that some of the things he said there were in jest after people raised doubts about his work ethic. I’ll leave it to everyone to make their own opinion …
The Daily Star published this article (maybe edited by now), allegedly by Hector Nunns. Which triggered this reaction on twitter
Tai is the assistant press officer at WPBSA and in charge of media when it comes to the Chinese press. Hector is a journalist I respect totally for the honest way he covers the sport. When I first read the article I was nonplussed: this is indeed not at all like the Ding Junhui I know. But going by this twitter snippet, it seems that the editor didn’t think that Hector’s piece was catchy enough and added some spice of his own… I totally loathe this type of press, and such twisted articles were the reason I started recording the players pressers.
Fans form an opinion on players based on the image the media give of them. Most members of the media I met are great guys doing their job properly, but I’m afraid it’s often the most sensationalist ones, the tiny minority, who catch the general public attention. And it sticks to players image for years. Shame!