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Ali Carter meets the Rocket

Ronnie

Ronnie O’Sullivan beat Ali Carter in the 2008 final by 18 frames to 8 in what was rather a dull final. I didn’t really get in to the tournament this year until the semis, mainly because it’s a tough year for us right now and I”m working so much. I would have enjoyed watching Hendry and O’Sullivan’s semi but missed all of it, even though I did have a wee wager on Hendry at 4-1. What I did see a lot of though was Ali Carter and Joe Perry’s semi and that for me was the match of the tournament; certainly it was far more enjoyable than watching Ronnie and Ali fumble round the table and miss shots all over the place. From the standard of play in the final it would be hard to believe that both players had a maximum during the tournament. And it must be the earliest finish I’ve ever encountered, at least as early as I can remember anyway (which isn’t saying much, admittedly, given the state of my memory these days). It was done and dusted by 8.30 p.m. and it just happens to the first final in some 10 years that I’ve actually been in the UK so wasn’t penalised by the hour’s time difference that I had to endure in Luxembourg. Last year’s was a late one, after 1 a.m. I think it was.

Ali Carter

I know I always say this when a long-odds player makes a final, but I’m sure we’ll see more of Ali Carter in future finals. Although nobody really seems to dominate these days any more, unlike during the reign of Steve Davis in the 80s and Hendry in the 90s so it could be that your Sean Murphys and Peter Ebdons are one-time champs only so in that sense it’s O’Sullivan’s era I suppose.

Joe Perry

Snooker

Well, what an epic the final of the World Snooker Championship was this year. Mark Selby had to qualify to play the tournament and got through no fewer than two former world champions to reach the final (Shaun Murphy and Peter Ebdon). He wasn’t on form on the Sunday sessions and the day ended with him 12-4 down to Higgins. I thought it was going to be rather a dull final, perhaps without an evening session on Monday, but I was wrong. Mark came out on fire and finished the first session of Monday’s play 12-10 down, winning six frames in a row before play finished. Incredible. He got right up to within one frame of Higgins at 14-13 but, in the end, the experience won the day and Higgins took his second win 18-13.

As finals go, this was a good one. Two frames lasted about an hour with one of the finest safety exchanges I’ve seen. They were some 20 minutes on the yellow ball; this was around midnight but neither player showed any signs of flagging.

For me, Mark Selby was the player of the tournament. To come back from 12-4 to reach 14-13 shows the kind of dogged determination of a future champion. I’ll be surprised if he doesn’t win it soon.

This was the latest final yet, finishing at around 1 a.m. (so 2 a.m. for me) and Higgins is pushing to have future finals start earlier. Rightly so, too. I was done in yesterday and ended up in bed at 10 p.m. with a pounding headache. Mark Selby may be 23, but I’m not!