Ronnie is 5-4 behind to James Cahill after the first session of their last 32 match at the Crucible. It was a bizarre and very disappointing session for Ronnie, and for his fans.
Ronnie started rather well, although he finished the first mini session all square:
As you can see from those stats Ronne had been the better player, but it didn’t show in the scores. This was due to the odd error here and there and to surprising shot selection at times. For instance, needing only the brown – that was on the baulk cushion – to win the first frame, Ronnie chose to power it in, likely trying to get position on the blue. Had he rolled it in he would have given it every chance. As it was he missed it and Cahill stole that frame. And this was only the first of many to come.
After the MSI it got worse. Ronnie looked very frustrated, and indeed like someone who didn’t want to be there. He was rushing his shots and his concentration was gone. It’s hard to know exactly why, but I think that part of it was the way the table was playing. Both players had many kicks, and splits didn’t work, more often than not leaving the white stuck in the pack. Hendry who was commentating on the match, along with Steve Davis, reflected on that a few times. Perfectly executed splits left players with little or nothing to go at, at least nothing remotely easy. Ronnie has often said in recent years that the most important for him was to enjoy his snooker and it was very obvious that he wasn’t enjoying it today out there! Actually it could easily have been much worse for than 5-4 behind!
James Cahill played well overall and above all, handled the occasion very well. He looked comfortable from the start. He was the more patient. He didn’t let errors and conditions affect him. He 100% deserves to be in front.
Here are the session stats:
The degradation in Ronnie’s game after the MSI is quite obvious. James Cahill himself made his fair share of errors, but Ronnie didn’t punish them.
Big thanks to Tai Chengzhe for those great pictures:
And the action
As you can hear, the pundits were a bit at loss at what happened out there. As Alan McManus stressed Ronnie HAS prepared well for this event. Earlier, during the morning session, he could be seen on the practice table with Steve Feeney. So what happened there is difficult to understand.
But, certainly after the MSI he didn’t apply himself the way he has done in the Tour Championship for instance. He looked frustrated, unhappy and … well, yes, quite tired as well. All we can hope for is that tomorrow is a better day.
If I’m honest, I’m not optimistic.