It was a day of “upsets” in Alexandra Palace yesterday, as both “underdogs” (sic Philip Studd) beat the upper seeds.
Ronnie was in the studio all day, and will be there for most of the week.
There is a new setup for the event, with a bar, and reserved seating for VIPs. The setup around the table is also different, and the players now sit in “formula 1” type of seats!
Overall it seems that those changes are appreciated are really add glamour to the event, which is good.
Anyway, here about the action …
The first match, Ding v Perry was very strange. Before the MSI Perry wasn’t playing well, he looked tense, Ding was outscoring him in all stats, he had a marvellous 135, up to now the only century of the event. But it was still 2-2 at the MSI. Actually, in my eyes at least, already then Ding’s body language wasn’t great. It reminded me of the Ding we saw early in the season. After the MSI, Perry started playing the way he can, very solid match play, and the match became very one sided. Ding had collapsed.
It’s bizarre because Ding looked in great spirit ahead of the event, if this interview (BBC) is anything to go by:
Masters 2020: Ding Junhui relaxed and ready for Alexandra Palace challenge
Yesterday, it seems that the old demons were back…
Joe Perry recorded a fine 6-3 defeat of Ding Junhui to book his place in the quarter-finals of the Dafabet Masters on the opening afternoon at Alexandra Palace in London.
The Gentleman is making his first appearance at the Masters since losing 10-7 in the 2017 final against Ronnie O’Sullivan.
Victory for 45-year-old Perry enhances his head-to-head record against Ding, but he still trails China’s number one 11-6 in their professional meetings. Next up he will face the winner of Tuesday’s first round clash between World Champion Judd Trump and Shaun Murphy.
Ding had come into this week having secured a fourth career Triple Crown title in December, defeating Stephen Maguire 10-6 in the UK Championship final.
This afternoon’s defeat for 2011 Masters winner Ding contributes to his already poor record at Alexandra Palace. He has now lost in the opening round in seven of the nine years since the event moved to Alexandra Palace in 2012.
Perry took a 25-minute opening frame this afternoon, before a sublime run of 135 saw Ding restore parity at 1-1.
Chatteris cueman Perry then regained his lead, but Ding made it 2-2 going into the mid-session interval.
When they returned, a break of 71 saw Perry edge 3-2 ahead. However, Ding once again drew level, compiling a 71 break of his own to make it 3-3.
From there it was Perry who took control and charged to the line. Contributions of 93 and 83 helped him to take three frames in a row and emerge a 6-3 victor.
Perry said: “The second half of the game was much better than the first. I felt good at the start, but then I missed a few easy balls and started thinking a bit too much. The interval came at the right time, because I felt like I was hanging on.
“He is one of the best players in the world and has been for a very long time. When he is on his game, as we saw in the UK Championship, he is pretty much unplayable. If you draw a top player like that and they are on their A-game you are up against it, but if they are missing the odd one or two you have to be there and take your chance.
“This tournament feels how it should. It is the absolute blue riband event on the circuit. You have the World Championship, but this is the showcase. It is the only event in London and the top 16 are here. I loved how there are supporters on sofas in front of the commentators now. It feels like the perfect venue.”
Ding said: “The match was a 50-50 one, but I didn’t take enough chances. I was losing position of the cue ball, trying to pot hard shots and missing every time.
“He did well today. Every time I missed, he took the chance and won the frames. I didn’t feel much pressure, but also didn’t quite have the concentration either. That is going to happen some days.”
The tournament and match preview:
The match review with Perry:
The evening match brought another upset. Mark Selby looked great at the Scottish Open, but apparently still struggles in the majors. He was pretty awful before the MSI, his highest break in the 30 something, and Carter without plmaying much better went 3-1 up. At the MSI, Selby was seen on the practice table with his good friend Bobby Lee. When they resumed, he won three frames in a row to lead 4-3. But then the match turned again, mistakes crept in in Selby’s game, Ali started playing well, punished them and went on to win 6-4.
Ali Carter defeated Mark Selby 6-4 in a pulsating Dafabet Masters opening round clash at Alexandra Palace in London.
Essex cueman Carter has never been beyond the quarter-final stage at the Masters, but will now compete in the last eight for a third time, when he faces either John Higgins or Barry Hawkins.
Carter earned his place in this week’s event by the narrowest of margins. Despite being ranked 17th in the world, he qualified after Ronnie O’Sullivan withdrew from the tournament.
Selby has won the Masters on three occasions, only Stephen Hendry and Ronnie O’Sullivan have won more. However, in recent years the Jester from Leicester has struggled in the event. Since 2015 he has only won three matches at Alexandra Palace and has failed to go beyond the second round.
Carter imposed himself on proceedings in the early stages this evening. A typically gritty opening frame saw him come from requiring two snookers to steal on the final black.
The Captain then claimed the second frame to establish an early 2-0 advantage. Selby pulled one back, but it was Carter who took the final frame before the mid-session interval to lead 3-1.
There was a dramatic frame when they returned, in which Carter appeared to be in the ascendency, but he broke down on a run of 61. Selby then produced a superb clearance of 74 to snatch the frame on the black. Selby clenched his fist in celebration as he kept himself in contention at 3-2.
Runs of 56 and 94 from Selby then saw him take the lead for the first time in the tie at 4-3. However, Carter refused to wilt and restored parity with a fine break of 82. He then moved one from victory at 5-4 and didn’t hesitate at the finishing line, securing victory with a contribution of 68.
Afterwards Carter cited Selby’s celebration in the fifth frame as a motivating factor on his way to victory.
“It did fire me up, big time. I don’t like any of that. He was looking at all of his followers in the crowd and gave it the fist. That was a little knife in the heart,” said 40-year-old Carter. “I am delighted to win. The closer I got to the finishing line the more focussed I got and the easier I found it, so that is a good sign.
“I felt like I didn’t play well before the interval and I was 3-1 up. All of a sudden after the break I ran out of position and before I knew it I was 4-3 behind. I thought I might have missed the boat, but I dug in and I’m really pleased to win.”
On his celebration following the fifth frame Selby said: “It was a big frame. If I was in that position and 3-1 up, I am sure he would have done it to me. It is a big tournament and you see it in other sports, so why not in snooker? It was nothing against Ali, I just knew that if I went 4-1 down I was massively up against it.
“The first frame was possibly a little turning point. I should have just potted the yellow and been 1-0 up, but after that the game never forgives you and it didn’t up until the interval. After that I felt really strong. At 4-3 up I had a blue into the pack and if I land on a ball I go 5-3 ahead and I think I win the match. After that I didn’t really get a chance.”
The match preview
The match mid-session
Ali’s post-match interview:
WST will match Neil Robertson’s contribution to the WIRES Australian Wildlife Rescue Organisation, in light of the current bushfires.
Australia’s Robertson has kindly offered to donate £100 for each century made at this year’s Dafabet Masters by all players, as well as contributing an additional £5,000.
This is a fantastic gesture from Neil for an extremely important cause and we would like to add our support by matching his donation.
The thoughts of everyone at WST are with all of the people affected by these terrible bushfires.
This is a great gesture. Thank you WST