Quarter-final action gets underway this afternoon at Alexandra Palace. Live coverage is introduced by Hazel Irvine.
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Good afternoon. The new Alexandra Palace, the people's palace, as it
was called in 1875, when it opened, and for the last 140 years, it's
been open to the public, the sort of fantastic entertainment for nearly
one and a half centuries. This is one of the main arenas. It's the
Masters. This week, we are going to be sharing Alexandra Palace, in
another part of the arena, with the model engineering exhibition. It's a
big event, and it takes all sorts, and there will be plenty of flasks
in evidence. It is called the finals day here in this fantastic arena,
which is filling up. We are going to have a full house of 2000 at the
start of the quarterfinals. The people's palace, and one of the
peoples champions, Ronnie O'Sullivan, is one of the star
attractions today. Many feel the defending champion was a touch lucky
to get through the opening round after a cracking match a final frame
finale against Liang Wenbo. He had a cold at the time and he will be
hoping that the remedies have kicked in. He words -- he will need a clear
head today to face the challenge of Neil Robertson, the 2012 Masters
champion from Australia. On paper, this quarterfinal is the pick of the
bunch. So it's The Rocket against the
Thunder. It could get pretty noisy in here. Marco Fu and Mark Allen
haven't met in almost four years. Joe Perry, meeting Ding Junhui. And
three-time Masters winner Mark Selby survived to play last year's
runner-up, Barry Hawkins. Stephen Hendry and Ken Doherty are admiring
the newly renamed Paul hunter trophy. For you, Stephen, after the
opening round, who is favourite come Sunday night to lift this? It's hard
to pick a winner for the event. Talking about today, if both players
play the way they did in the first round, Neil Robertson wins, but I
think today will be a different kettle of fish. I think Ronnie will
be up for it. We have had quite a few deciders in the afternoon. 17
centuries so far, and the record without a wild card round is 28.
What do you make of it so far? Incredible stamina and matchups. 17
centuries so far, it's unprecedented in round one, but I think there will
be more to come. The table looks superb, lovely and fast. There
haven't been many kicks and bounces. That helps, so the players have more
confidence playing on the wonderful table. I think we have got some
mouthwatering clashes coming up, and this match has to be the tie of the
round. Mark Selby, world number one, still in this, after another decider
yesterday. It's been a costly few days for the top seeds. We have had
a lot of numbers two, three, four and five. This is only a 16 man
event. -- we have had the loss of. Does it surprise you? You could make
a case for anybody winning this tournament at the beginning. Almost
anyone, in my opinion. The standard of play has been phenomenal. It's no
surprise to me that these players have done it. It's been great
watching. If this isn't a January blues Buster, then nothing else is.
There is no bigger occasion than playing Ronnie in the Masters in
London. I will have to be on my game and I know what to expect. Most of
the crowd will be on his side. I don't really have a strategy. You go
out there and play the balls as they live. You've got to concentrate on
your own game. He is a wonderful player and he has won everything in
the game multiple times. This tournament is tough but Niall has
probably had a lean spell. People appreciate good snooker and will
applaud your shots. The standard is so good that if you are not on your
game are a passenger. I'm trying to stab my mark on the game and win
these sort of titles. I'm sure it's a matter of time. I've got to go out
there and play my game. He's a dangerous opponent. Ronnie has
beaten Neil the last toys they met, including the Welsh Open final last
February, the last piece of silverware that O'Sullivan won. He
also whitewashed Robertson in Romania last October, but Robertson
remembers his dismantling of The Rocket two years ago. I know which
way you have plugged, Stephen, you say that Robertson should win. On
first round form. How much does first round form count? I don't
think that players will look at previous form. They will both be at
forest. Ronnie in front of his home crowd is always difficult. -- will
both be up for this. Neil may look back at the 6-1 demolition that he
had, but any time that these guys meet will be fantastic. There will
be great breaks, great safety play and it will be very close. Neil
Robertson was keen to stress how hard he worked over Christmas. He
still considers himself a top player, and he is, but his world
ranking has slipped to seventh, as low as for five years. I couldn't
believe when I heard that. He believes he should be competing
these big events. There isn't a lot of difference between number two and
number seven points wise, but he belongs in the top one, two or three
players in the world. Robber what her, all yours. Good afternoon,
ladies and gentlemen. These are the matches that makes snooker great.
Welcome to the first quarterfinal of this year's Masters. This could be
absolutely epic. APPLAUSE
Please welcome, a player who has taken the game by storm since his
arrival from Australia over ten years ago. Three times a Masters
finalist, winner here in 2012, twice the UK champion, he is also a world
champion. He is the Thunder from Down Under, Neil Robertson!
And his opponent, a player who won the first of his six masters title
as a teenager in 1995. He has been entertaining snooker crowds here and
around the world for more than two decades. Five times a world
champion, the defending masters champion, The Rocket, Ronnie
O'Sullivan! Practically a guard of honour for
Ronnie at the top of those stairs. In the commentary box this
afternoon, joining John Parrott is the 1987 masters champion, Dennis
Taylor, who is celebrating his birthday. Many happy returns,
Dennis. Thank you, diesel. We always say
what an atmosphere, but that introduction was something special.
-- thank you, Hazel. Ronnie looks relaxed. He doesn't usually smile
like that. Ronnie won the toss, and he will get this quarterfinal match
underway. Very difficult to predict the winner
of this one. Yes, we were talking at the top of the show about their
records coming into this. In the Welsh Open, Robertson was 5-2 ahead
before Ronnie put the afterburners on to win seven frames on the trot.
I don't think anybody in the game would win seven frames on the trot
against Robertson, but since then there has been the semifinal in the
European masters, where Ronnie beat him 6-0.
. That was interesting, because the table has been flying. This is a new
cloth on. Even if it is off the same role of cloth, it will be
interesting to see if this table plays as quick. It is the same table
but, if the cloth laid as fast as the previous one, we will find out
in a couple' time. Good safety from Neil. Might be able
to get past the yellow and blue for that red. Looking at that angle, no
value in taking that on, because he would be careering into the reds. If
it was straight, he could have a go at it and get the black. -- get onto
the black. Just the crucial plots have been
changed, so the bed of the table will play the way it has been. --
just the cushion cloths. Strange, why would you do that? They are not
ready bouncing at all. Probably the jaws of the pockets. Safety from
Ronnie, a bump on the middle pocket. I didn't see much of Neil's match
with Ali Carter, but apparently he played very well. I was chatting
with Neil the other day before he played and he was saying, scoring
wise, he felt he was back to his best. He made 13 century breaks in
the little mini league think he was playing in. But one of the things
you really need to do if you are playing Ronnie O'Sullivan in what
could be deemed his backyard is you need to have plenty of character to
stand up to it. That is where the Aussie grit comes into it.
Two fabulous players. An abundance of natural talent in O'Sullivan, the
best player I have ever seen with AQ in his hand, and then you have got
the Australian with a laser-like cue action, tremendous break-builder and
all-round match player with that Aussie grit. A great matchup.
I mean, what this player achieved in the 2013-14 season might never be
done again, to make 100 centuries in one season.
Extraordinary. Still got a red in the middle before he has to play any
cannons. So he can stun this in. He is coming up a little bit short.
Might just be OK. Having to go away from the black
here. But he needs to pull up a little bit. That's OK. And he could
play a little cannon into the five reds here. Quite thin on the blue.
This could really open things up. He went delicately into the reds.
Got to avoid the cannon on the reds near the site cushion when you what
that one. -- the side cushion. Robertson knows the importance of a
good start in this match. He looks tuned up and ready to go right from
the off. He started the season of pretty well, he had a semifinal
early on, a couple of disappointing results by his own standards since
then, but then starting to make all of those centuries in the last
couple of weeks and the hard graft he put in over Christmas... If he
gets back to his best, he will take some stopping.
Yeah, I was surprised he had dropped to number seven in the world. As
Stephen Hendry said, he should be in the top three, you would think.
But that is how tough the game is these days. You can easily slip down
the rankings if you have a lean spell. He is taking his time here.
He's got to try and get the next positional shot. If he can get
straight on this, it will be perfect. Doesn't really want to be
playing any cannons. That isn't straight.
Not surprised he came up off the shot.
He didn't want to risk the delicate little cannon to hold on the black.
Just forced it in. Hoping to drop nicely on pink or blue. But it's not
absolutely perfect. He's got to avoid the Borg colours and get back
up to be scoring end of the table. -- the baulk colours.
In and out of the baulk area. I think those two reds definitely pot.
He couldn't have it that much better. That was a lovely shot,
beautifully controlled. He got round on those two reds with
the aid of a little flick on the brown, as you can see. You can
expect this from these two players, I think. If the other makes a
mistake, the way they are playing, every chance they will finish the
frame of. It is so important to stick your marker down in a match.
Many times in commentary, we would say that Steve Davis used to be
brilliant at winning the opening frame. Very important to let your
opponent know that you are here to play your best. That is what Neil
Robertson is doing. Hugely impressive.
Very difficult to start with a century break, but he is almost over
the winning line already in this opening frame.
He will have to wait for the next frame now. Ronnie needs a smoker,
regardless of what happens. -- a snooker.
He'll have to play a double if he is going to have a chance of a century.
But the frame is well and truly in the bag. Just checking that, looking
at the scoreboard. He may as well have a go at the double.
Well, no century break, but what a start from the Australian. He got
one chance and that was all he needed. And that lovely break has
given him the opening frame. Well, you can't do better than
getting a chance and making enough to get a frame. Very impressive. He
is the consummate match player. Slightly surprising where he has
been for a futile and is, because I rate him as highly as the boys were
saying. -- for a few tournaments. Look at the focus on his face. He is
really tuned in. Ronnie made a slight error and that was all it
took. This was the one. Just doubled the rate. A bit unlucky to catch the
jaw and leave that over the corner. But it was a good opening pot. A lot
more difficult than it looks on the screen, but beautifully struck. As
you say, the rest is history. It's a pity the break-off shot has
put a red next to the black and put it out of commission.
Neither player will have liked to have seen that. It means that Ronnie
can't take this reds on the left corner because there is no colour
available. Can you believe it, John? 25 years
since Jan Verhaas came on the scene as a referee. One of the very best,
and a lovely man. We have all got older together.
Touching ball again. Ronnie might as well just stay where he is.
This time, Ronnie can't play back down the table. He can see the edge
of the pack. Ronnie's good friend, Damian Hirst,
the artist. He didn't think he would be back today, because it look like
Liang Wenbo would pot black and Ronnie would be out.
Doesn't want to leave a free ball here. And he hasn't, but he has left
a long pot on. I wonder how Neil will take this. Will he go round the
back? He just caught the blue. But Neil could play around on the blue
or he could play too much the red away from the black. -- he could
play in to nudge. Usually, Neil's cue action goes straight through.
Not a great chance, obviously, but he usually manages to find a way
round these things. This could develop the pink and
reds, because the black is tied up at the moment.
Might just be able to get through. It's tight though. It's very tight.
In fact, I don't think he can get through to it. A bit unlucky with
the split. It wasn't totally ideal on the blue. He couldn't get loads
of power onto that. But he'll be very disappointed if he
doesn't cover it. He wouldn't be playing to leave the red there.
Just caught the pink half ball. Full-ball contact would have been
better, but he was still a bit unlucky.
The difficult thing for Neil is he is playing off the site of the pack.
The red on the left is the one he's got to get covered. Cue ball
virtually in the same place he played from. Should be ideal. Well,
he hasn't done that. And, if Ronnie can pot this red and managed to get
the cue ball out, then it's a chance.
Quick glance at the pink, cot get through to that, but the main part
of the shot was plotting the red and so a medium length blue, normally
very reliable with this type of shot. He hasn't had much table time.
Right the way through, beautifully struck.
Not a brilliant chance, this, the way the balls are commissioned. The
black is out of commission and the pink will get tied up back on its
spot, it looks like. Is there enough room? That is the
ball marker that will tell the referee whether it spots. The pink
is now tied up. He will have to play up for the blue. He had a look to
see whether the pink would go into the left corner, but we will find
out, the way he plays the positional side of this shot, whether it pots
or not. Well, it does. The pink does pass that read, by the looks of
things. Well, maybe not. Otherwise he would have played it.
He did look at it, so Ronnie would have known whether the pink would
go. Just can't quite get position he
likes at the moment. Slightly off with each shot, and the bump doesn't
help, putting him straight on the blue. He would have liked to have
been topside. Another good medium-range pot. To
screw back and back for the blue again. Might get close to the left
middle pocket. He'll have to be careful.
Really well struck. The best thing there is, in that position, three
reds below the pink and two of the bottom one is definitely pot now. So
there is an area to play in. Straightaway, that's where he is.
He is making a terrific job of this. When you see them having to work
hard like this, very skilful indeed. He has got a slight angle. So he can
force this in. Both the reds might pot. Isn't he
taking these well? The table, when he first came to it, wasn't
brilliant, but so far this has been superb.
Both players in good nick. That is what everybody wanted at this packed
house at the Alexandra Palace. And everyone watching at home. They
wanted to see both these players playing well and it looks as if we
are going to see that. There is always something a bit special about
Britain playing Australia at any sport. -- England playing Australia.
59 on, and the lead is 60, so he needs to make sure of this red. Not
many players would have come to the table and a won the frame from this
visit, but O'Sullivan has, absolutely brilliant.
Robertson has signalled to the referee that that is enough, so
Ronnie O'Sullivan has returned. One chance was enough to win the frame.
Great stuff. STUDIO: Fast start, great start. We were talking about
Neil Robertson's victory in the first frame, that was his first
frame he has taken off Ronnie in 14, he had lost the last 13 in a row.
Noticeable difference with Ronnie from the first run, he knows he's
playing one of the best in the world today. Against Liang Wenbo, he
looked like he did not want to be there. But this is the quality you
would expect from two of the best players in the world. They both look
up for this. That was a great break from Ronnie, when he came to the
table it did not look like he would win the frame from that visit, but
he brought the pink interplay, in and out of baulk, a great example of
potting and break-building, and keeping the cue ball straight. It is
brisk and a lot of fun. COMMENTATOR: I like that, Hazel, it is brisk, and
also brilliant. I suppose Ronnie has got away with that break a little
bit. He hit that far too thin, and you don't see that very often.
Excellent. Off the side of the pack and opened a few balls out.
Attacking safety, that was. What a terrific return from the
Australian. I think this is going to play a key part in this match, the
safety, the tactical side of the game, who puts in the better safety
shot that creates the better chances? If he can sneak past the
yellow, for the Boston bottom red. He's double-checking on that, and
maybe it also rather tight. Maybe he can leave the cue ball up this end.
If he is taking this amount of time about it, it is clearly difficult.
Some very good safety shots from both players. Absolutely top-class.
That path is blocked off now, the one can't clip of the one at the
side of the pink. In a perfect world, he would dump the cue ball on
the top rail, but he can't do that either because he can't see the
right side of it. This is a problem. He will try to find the safety shot.
There is a possible red, but he could miss that. Can he find the
correct spot at this end of the table? That is pretty good.
Sometimes you are in that much trouble you have got to play what
you call a containing shot. He did well and got himself out of trouble.
He needs to get this right. He wants wrote to cover the one on the corner
pocket and he has judged that to perfection -- he wants to cover the
one. He needed a good length of the cue ball. He needed a good length,
otherwise Neil Robertson would have taken it on, but you can't pot them
if you can't see them. Yes, 4-5 shots have been top-class, all
putting their opponent in the maximum amount of trouble.
snooker like to see this type of game, -- a lot of people who watch
snooker like to see this type of game, as well as the frame-winning
breaks going on. He's trying to drop dead weight on the cushion at the
top, Izzy? He hasn't judged that as he wanted it and that is a big
mistake -- is a? Hmmm. Not close at all to what he
was doing. Good opening red but pink and black
tied up, but after the break we saw on the previous frame, that break of
63 from nowhere, absolutely nothing on. In a few shots time he might
have the pink and black in the play. -- in play.
Funnily enough, he did not hit that one very well at all. Just about
sneaked in-off the right-hand jaw. A bit too close for comfort, missing
that one. So, change of plan with his positional play. He has got to
find the gap, to get round for the blue here.
He's not mind his mind up yet, as to what shot he's playing.
He will be very disappointed at this contribution. He had the table at
his mercy after the first red he knocked in. It is a bonus, that he
can just get through to the blue otherwise he was in a bit of a hole.
That's brilliant. Once again, he cued beautifully, and where the cue
ball has finished Mike the ideal. -- might be ideal. Far from easy from
the top cushion, but the fact he has an angle. The long pot straight in
the middle of the pocket. Can he falls an angle out from the green up
the table? Then the scoring opportunity is his. -- can he force
an angle. Anywhere near the circle and then he can force the angle. He
is OK. Coming on past. Another couple of red is available, I think.
I thought he would have to force it, but that was a perfect angle where
he finished. No problem getting back down the table. Ronnie had a first
look at these reds and colours. What can Neil Robertson make from them?
If he screws back of this one, almost wrecked he could catch the
other red and go completely out of position. Funny situation, not ideal
for either of them, and when he came down the table he must've he would
be on something, and he is, but it requires more positional play. -- he
must've thought he would be on something. It is his turn to make a
mess of it, I don't know what that shot was, and so both players making
a positional howler. He needs a thin one here to avoid the middle pocket.
That has opened up the game substantially now that the pink and
black are in play. One mistake now could be very costly. If you had
told me it would be 6-5 after those two chances they were given, I would
never have believed it. Very rare occurrence for these players to make
mistakes position me. -- positionally.
Looking at this table, whoever makes the next mistake, they won't be
making too much position on these balls the way they are now because
they are spread rigidly. -- they are spread beautifully. So, a big break
will be in the offing if you get the chance.
There's a couple of roots back down the table for Ronnie, if he
conceived the one on the right hand side of the table, but I prefer the
one on the left-hand side, two double back towards the black and
then the white will head back towards the yellow and blue. It
depends how he feels. He is going for the thin one on the right side
of the table. Oh! This could be a nice flick. Yes, he's extremely
adapted that shot, the thin clip, there is a routine where he
practices and place those shots. -- plays. Hmmm
hit be read, but no great pace on the cue ball. -- hit the red.
Don't think he will play the pot on this. No. It was a very thin clip
and he didn't fancy playing the pot. He is looking for the focus today, I
agree with Stephen Hendry in the studio. -- he's looking fully
focused today. He did not take any liberties with that shot. The first
time lasted just over ten minutes, the second just over 11 minutes, we
are coming up to nearly 14 minutes and there are still plenty of reds
left on the table, that is just the nature of how this frame has panned
out. Still very entertaining to watch, to see who is going to make
the first mistake in this safety exchange.
Oh! That's the first mistake. Even though you are as good as
O'Sullivan, that is your reward for the last shot. He could have played
a thin clip, but he refused it and made a safety, and this is his
reward for it. That shot was always looking like trouble. He nearly
flipped the red in the middle. -- flute. Still, he is tight on the
cushion. The only thing with potting the
black, it looks like the pink is in the open.
He could win this frame with just potting reds and pinks because the
black is out of commission. Five reds nicely placed. If he keeps
staying on the pink. It is lovely to watch, when you play
these little screw shots, it is the secret of break-building.
Going back to the situation of how he got the opportunity, that is how
good Ronnie is amongst the balls and his break-building, but the safety
exchange from both players, it was Roddy who forced the mistake from
Neil with a safety of the highest quality -- Ronnie. I love to see him
play when he's fully focused. It is not great to play against, but when
you are watching and he is fully focused on what he's doing, the
concentration levels are there, and he wants to win the match, he is
very special to watch. What he's done well here, he's
hand-4-macro -- he's had four pinks and this is the fifth coming up, it
is getting more difficult now. Playing into a gap, and that is
judged to perfection. He's going to need one more the difficult reds and
he's got a nice angle on the pink and he might be able to get on one.
Just the one more that's available and that is all he'll need. 51
ahead. That's 52, with 51 remaining.
Fascinating frame. Some good tactical play from both players.
Once again, a wonderful break. The second phone, 63, wonderfully
constructed. Mrs the pink. -- the second frame. That has opened up the
reds, so Neil will be carrying on. That's in concentration, he thought
he was over the finishing line. If he had parted that read -- putted
that red, Niall would have stayed in his seat. So easy to do that. You
think you have won the frame, and a little lapse in concentration.
That is the shot Ronnie play, he misses the pink. Fix the black out
of the way and that puts the two reds in play. -- flicks. Hmmm.
Because of that he might have given himself a headache for the rest of
this frame. You can see where he wants to put the cue ball so he can
send the red around the angles towards the green and leave the
snooker. This frame is far from over.
I know it's the best of 11 and we are only in the third frame, but
this could prove to be a turning point, this frame. It is not always
winning the frames you should win, it is nicking the frames you
shouldn't. If Neil Robertson can win this after a brilliant 51 from
O'Sullivan, if he can win this and nick it, that will be a boost to his
confidence. Neil, that is a shocker. I can't believe that. That is not
like him at all. It is what you call quitting on the shot, you never
delivered the cue. He was hoping to be behind the black and then sent
the red up towards the green, but he walked away in disgust. There is
another nice little flick. APPLAUSE Getting a round of applause, he
missed the pot by a mile. Trick shot, but the swerve never took.
Still only two snookers needed. Quite fortunate, Ronnie, to miss
that. It always seems the way, when you are given an opportunity like
Neil was, the balls don't tend to forgive you for missing a chance
like that. It was a very good chance for getting a snooker. There's
another one. Neil feels he can just sneak this
one. Yes, excellent shot, Ronnie has got
to play a little swerve. Just be careful.
Make sure you get the swerve on, coming on like, just as it got past
the pink. -- coming on late. He's decided he's going to knock the red
in and take his chances, adjust the colours on the table. The brown is
not very good, is it? Looking at the scoreboard, he will
still need a couple of snookers. Sometimes if you get to the blue,
you only need D1 but that is not the case here. -- you only need the one
snooker, but that is not the case here. He needs to start looking for
a snooker now. It can go up behind the black. Has he hit that hard
enough? He has hit that one again. Yeah, once again, not like him. He's
not just a little bit out with that one, as well. He's quite a way. That
was a jobs. -- that was a chance. If he could get a chance to pot the
brown and blue, he might take it, because then he could tie with one
snooker. He had a glance at the scoreboard and he worked that one
out. Yes, but if you didn't do it the first time when he had the
chance with the brown before, Ronnie is going to do it now.
One good long pot and that should be the end of this frame.
He's probably thinking to himself, what am I doing here? This frame
should have been over about seven minutes ago.
That's a snooker. But I think he can get enough side to miss the black
and swing it and it brown. -- and hit the brown. Oh, only just.
Yeah, I mean, Ronnie thought he'd won the frame. Normally wouldn't
miss this type of shot. Neil would have stayed in his seat, had that
pink bombing. This brown was close. Now, we'll Neil think about potting
the brown and blue? Can he see the brown to pot it? He can.
It's a possibility, but you know what it's like, Dennis. You can
virtually guarantee you're going to get the snooker of pink and black.
You generally get one shot at it. If you don't get it the first time,
most players are pretty adept at keeping them away from each other.
He played to pot the blue and he missed it. I think he was thinking
about where he was going to leave the cue ball to give himself the
chance of a snooker. Can Ronnie finished the frame off?
Doesn't matter about the pink. We won't see many frames lasting as
long as that one, am up for 29 minutes. Some brilliant tactical
play at the beginning of that frame, but Ronnie made a superb break of
51, paving the way for him to lead 2-1.
Nearly 20 minute minutes, that. A real contrast to the start of the
match was a very interesting safety exchange in the battle to gain
control. One shot in particular showed a lot of patience from
Ronnie. Ronnie had a pot on to the left corner, but refused it. He
played an excellent safety shot, which consequently let him in the
51. The safety exchange is almost show more than the breaks on how
someone's appetite for winning is, because you are determined to keep
the upper hand. Ronnie O'Sullivan is always going to make breaks, doesn't
matter how bad he is playing, because it's his bread and butter.
But the determination to win the safety exchange shows he is up for
it. Do you sense how focused he is? Absolutely. He is underestimated for
how a safety player he is, Neil. There were some great exchanges in
that frame. It was cat and mouse. So clever about that shot, not only
refusing a red, but the position of the cue ball, over the left-hand
side of the table, which made it even more difficult to get back.
Never plays a safety shot claim ball, Ronnie. He is always
manoeuvring the cue ball, putting some side on the cue ball to get it
to the position that the most difficult. Sometimes you look and
say, where do I not want to play the shot from, and that is where he will
put it. There were a couple of shots that he played left-handed. They are
almost interchangeable. You hardly notice he is doing it. I don't know
how he does it. We both tried to play left-handed and look like full
is doing it! But he does it so naturally. There is no ripple of
applause any more. They think, oh well, it's just Ronnie O'Sullivan.
Pretty good length with the break-up shot, but Ronnie may attempt a long
red into the left corner. It's the only one he would leave and he'd be
on the back. We saw Barry Hawkins knocking two or three of these in at
the start of his match when he beat Shaun Murphy last evening. 6-1.
That was a surprise to everyone. Not a surprise to Barry, though,
although Shaun had beaten him eight out of the nine times they'd played.
The red was dead straight. Yeah, very difficult shot, those. The one
thing you are hoping you don't do is get the double case. -- double kiss.
In some ways, it's a bit easier to judge when you are just plain claim
ball. Plain claim ball and taking the cue ball up and down the table,
it's just difficult to get the pace right. Playing around angles and
using a bit of side, you are almost guaranteed to get close to the
question. You have to practice quite a bit. Trust me, he puts plenty of
time in on the safety play as well. He's got away with that. He made a
complete mess. You see him egging himself on, going, come on! He hit
that far too thick. But this will cut back.
Given himself a bit of a telling off.
The funny thing is, we were talking about him using the side, and that's
the one downside. Sometimes you push the cue ball in a bit thick and
that's what happens. Not like him. A big, big frame for Neil Robertson to
try and level, going into the interval. He might play for the blue
hair, get it back on its spot. The pink is tied up, the black is off
its spot. He could pot this red into the left corner and finish nicely on
the blue and get it back on its spot. That would certainly help
things. If he's got a good enough angle, he
could even play into the pink and reds, but having said that it would
be a bad idea to play for the red that's near the black spot. He seems
to have enough angle to do what he wants with this.
So into the pink and reds, and it is misjudged. That a wide target.
I thought he would play on the loose red, Dennis. But there you go.
He'll be disappointed, from where he was on the blue, not to have scored
more points. I showed you when Ronnie went back
to his seat how annoyed he was. He was expecting Neil to make a few
more, so he hasn't been punished. I like that safety shot. That
brought the pink into play for is that OK, he didn't want to can the
green, but that's opened the game up. But he might be in a bit of
trouble here, if Neil Robertson can get behind the green.
That's what he tried for, but his safety has been a little bit off
today. When he has been laying snooker is today, he's been a little
bit off with his pace. Not massively so, but enough to be magnified in
this company. Another beauty. 92% safety success,
Ronnie O'Sullivan. He had to get that right, and he
has. Pinpoint accuracy there, because he could have left one for
the left corner, one for the middle. And it's not touching ball, so
awkward to get back down to the baulk area. A bit of tapping going
on here, trying to see what else he can do here.
Was that a cap or a tip? I'm not sure which it was. -- a tap.
Touching ball has resolved the situation, thankfully. No more
tapping. That is usually his forte, but
goodness me, a long way off. I don't think I've seen him miss one by that
far before. Well, it's not an easy starter for
Ronnie. The pot isn't so difficult, but the position is more difficult.
That was a better shot and it looked, to have to screw that check
side. It needs another good positional shot. Straighten up, keep
it away from the reds. He made sure of the pot. But didn't
avoid the yellow. He almost parted the yellow. --
potted. Well, not an easy chance, but Neil Robertson will be delighted
he only got six points off it. He must have thought, when he missed
that one pot why a mile, he was in big trouble.
Is still little awkward. He's looking at the brown, but I don't
think he's got enough angle to get up off the brown and yellow. He
needs plenty of side tonic to get up, at least passed the blues spot
area. He'd like to get closer to the reds. He's got to get -- he's got to
avoid the pockets. A big shot, just get position. He is an one, but can
he get any position off this red that he's landed on? Very tight on
the cushion. No good, that one. Have to play something a bit special
to get on the pink from that red. Very awkward.
I'll tell you what, what an effort that is! I mean, that is as good a
positional shot as you'll ever see. Loads of top spin. That was bit
special. We won't see a better shot than that one. Fabulous.
Played that just to try and clear the black spot. The red is still
covering it. Truly brilliant shot, that was. He
might need another one here, looking at this. He has a slight angle to
work with. In a perfect world, he'd like to get half ball off that blue
and come down and split the pack with the black, but he's just the
wrong side. Just look at the cue power of the
Australian. Loads of top spin and left-hand side, but he's got to
finish a bit close to the cushion. That could be end of break.
And you can see, all covering each other.
In fact, the way they've finished, it is very awkward to get good
safety shot in. The last two frames, the balls have
gone a little bit awkward. That's why the previous frame lasted 29
minutes. The first frame was ten minutes, the second 11, but
sometimes the balls dictate what happens, and we are back to tipping
and tapping again. I tell you what, that was nearly a bit too hard. His
heart was in his mouth for a second. They are going to keep playing until
an opportunity arises to do so. He thinks he could screw down off
this with some side and get it back to the baulk area. Got to be careful
though. Could play a push shot. Yeah, a push shot is where the tip
of the cue ball and object ball and the cue are in contact at the same
time. Tough for the referee to decide what is a push shot, but the
player normally would walk away from the table and declare it themselves,
if they push it. But look at this for a safety. Yeah, great shot.
All covered up. Nothing too appetising down either side. Ronnie
was looking to see if he could drop on the red that is nearest top
cushion. He'd tried something a bit special
to try and hit the cushion first and swing the ball around the angles,
but it was very difficult. Just looking to see if the black goes
into the pocket, but he's going to take the red here. Not sure if it is
available. It would be a big advantage if the black goes.
He's the wrong side of the blue. Maybe the black is just that little
bit too tight. If you were in behind the black, it
looks as if you would be able to pot it.
We might have to see a Neil Robertson special. We talk about cue
power, if he takes his red to the right corner, he's got to get a lot
of action on this. Oh, he had an angle, so he didn't have to screw it
back. He's just scrapping for position at the moment. He can't
quite get them how you want them. Slightly wrong all the time. -- how
he wants them. It's a hard work break at the moment.
Mid-session interval coming up after this frame. I mean, the first two
frames, both players got one chance and made enough to win the frame,
but the last two frames, the balls have gone so awkward.
And this is the key shot for the frame. Plot the black, should play a
little cannon onto the red when he runs through. Should leave the other
red available. A big chance. No real reason now from this
position, other than bad fortune or a kick or something, why he
shouldn't win this frame. Really good for Neil Robertson, and a good
effort, because he missed one or two shots in this frame and lost the cue
ball a couple of times. One attempt at a long pot was a long way away.
If he will go into the interval 2-2, he will be delighted.
He won't be coming back to the table here.
Sometimes the interval can change things around. As I said, the last
two frames have been very awkward. And I suppose 2-2 is a pretty fair
reflection, JP? Yeah, I would think so. As I say, just because they are
awkward frames it doesn't mean they are not important. They all count.
Doesn't matter about that. Ronnie's on his way out of the arena. A
couple of awkward frames, two very good opening frames, and they go to
the mid-session interval 2-2. We are enjoying this and I am sure
you are, too. Beautifully poised, some great stuff from both of them,
and in that last frame Neil Robertson looked like he was getting
into his stride. There was a particular positional shot. One red
sums up Neil Robertson's cue action. Not many players could play this.
Just get right through the cue ball and brings it back into play.
Marvellous. He had to hit it perfectly because, if he didn't, he
would have cannoned the red. If Ronnie had played it, talking about
it for years, but it shows you what a fantastic cue man and player Neil
Robertson is. Thoughts on this, enjoying it? Very good. Both players
are up for it. It is tense and intriguing. A couple of scrappy
frames, a couple of good frames. They are battling against each other
to force that opening. The balls have gone scrappy in the last couple
of frames but the first couple... You can see both players are up for
it and they are cueing well. Should Robertson fans be concerned about
his safety percentage? Ronnie seems to be in charge in that department.
That could be a deciding factor as the match goes on. If you are
creating the most chances, you are going to win the match, so maybe he
has to look at that. The last two frames, completely opposite to the
first two. I think it comes to who takes their opportunities and wins
the frames in one visit. Bring on part two. Before that, let's have a
chat with Neil Robertson. One thing I remember from a couple of years
back, when I went to his house and we had an interview, what a
fantastic room he had with all of his trophies, lots of photographs,
very proud of his 12 ranking titles, and the fact he is the first
non-British player to achieve the Triple Crown. Also in that room is
all his video gaming equipment because, when not practising, he is
in a parallel world. He came out of it to speak to John Parrott.
The most important thing. Good players, how is the form? If you
asked me in October, November, not great but, since then, I mean, I
worked very hard over Christmas and, just before Christmas, I lost my
last 16 to Marco Fu 4-3 in Scotland and he went on to win the
tournament. A fantastic match and I could have easily got to the final.
The form is back. I played well in the championship league, a couple of
groups, heading into the Masters now. So I feel really good. And you
make a lot centuries in that. Yeah. The way I started the season, it's
probably not achievable to get 100 this season, but I racked up a view.
I think I had 12 or 13 last week. The scoring is back. I feel really
good. I have never practised as hard as I did recently. The season
started well, a win early on and a couple of semifinals. But generally
you have been consistent. Any reason why it hasn't been happening? And I
went back home to Australia, I was back home four weeks. A period of
time when other players are getting back into things, I was taken that
time off. When I came back, I was still not ready to get back into
competing at the highest level, so I went to China, had a bit of a
nightmare out there. I didn't want to play the game. I had some bad
results, and that sort of form continued for another couple of
events. You couldn't practice properly. You get back from prying
-- China and then you are up to Preston for qualifying, going there
or wherever. It's hard to get momentum. It's good to have a period
of to focus on practice on the practice table. Playing as well as
ever. The UK must have been a bit of a second, getting first round. I
thought you would be one of the favourites. -- must have been a
sicken her. Definitely, but it wasn't a reflection on bad form. I
can't really put that match down as bad form. I was outplayed. Which was
fine. And then the match against Marco Fu could have easily gone
either way. So the form has been there, but obviously people won't
stop talking until I start picking up trophies. This tournament has
been good, certainly this venue. Three final say. What do you like
about it? The tournament in particular, the top players love
playing here. It's been positive to move here. Great crowds every game,
one-table set-up. That is what the top players really want to play in.
It has such a fantastic history. As for those finals, you remember them,
but you lost in two of them. One was Shaun Murphy, and that wasn't you at
all in the final. Two unbelievable performances to get there. What was
your take on that one? When I played Ali in the quarters, that was his
first big match since recovering from cancer, so that was a big one
to get up for. The match against Ronnie O'Sullivan, semis at the
Masters, he's never lost a semi-here before, so I really got myself up
for that, played fantastically and beat him 6-1. It's not that I didn't
treat Shaun the same and it's impossible to match those kind of
highs. I had a slight dip and Shaun took full advantage. Played some
fantastic stuff. I a bit below par than where I needed to be, and Shaun
can get on top of anyone when he is playing like that. To get beaten
last year, I don't think I have seen anybody play that well and lose.
What a match! What did you take from that? I was sick to lose. I had won
the champion of champions, the UK championship, and this was the third
big one and I really fancied winning a third in a row. The pattern that
happened after winning the UK last year was people would play their
best against me, which tends to happen. Not many other players like
seeing one particular player winning all of the trophies. Judd was pretty
determined to stop me picking up the third. He played fantastically well.
That's what can happen in snooker. What what is your expectation for
this week? To play as well as I can. I have prepared as well as I can.
Whatever happens on the table, I can't be disappointed because I have
put in the work. Just looking for a good performance, like in previous
years. Some players, things not going right, they will ease off the
gas, but you graft harder. Yeah, especially over the last couple of
months, I have been practising so hard. I played in Norway over
Christmas and I've never done that before. So I feel as though my game
is in really good shape and hopefully it's not going to be too
long before I picked up another good one. Thank you, good luck.
It's 2-2 in this match. We are discussing more about Neil Robertson
and Ronnie O'Sullivan later. What can you say to the kids when
they want to start on snooker? Well, I think you have to say start them
young and small. What's the deal here, Ken.
Welcome all. Chris, the first time I've seen
these tables in the Cue Zone, they look fantastic. Tell us about them.
Well, this is about cue to the end of school programme. It hopes to
bring the children to play in ranking events and eventually to the
Masters. Jason, tell me about the
anticipation for the young kids and what the WPCA are trying to achieve?
This is key to our sports development. The one thing about
full sized snooker tables, for the beginner or the junior, it is too
difficult to get started on them. So the idea here is we can Trons port
these smaller tables into a sports hall, a centre, or a youth centre,
and this is the key here. As you can see, it is proving popular.
Since the day it's been introduced, they have been cueing up for the
tables. It is fantastic to see the lads into it.
We are really encouraged. There has been a cue here all week to g have a
go on the tables. Here is a full-sized table but here behind us,
the young lads are on the smaller table, really enjoying themselves.
And for the juniors, it is great for them to play here.
Any sport has to make their sport accessible to everyone. This is
about introducing this sport to disability centres as well and that
take-up has been terrific. Do you fancy a game? You and me,
Ken? Just like the old days. My dad made our first snooker table.
He made it! He made it quietly, he cushioned it, covered it, clothed
it, and we would stick it on our dining table and play when we were
kids, my brother and I. But that is ancient history.
Now, Barry, this is fantastic, isn't it, how do you rate the quality?
This is fantastic. The great players. For me, it has been
breathtaking. Especially in the afternoon sessions. And I dare say
we are going into another one. Four, to six consecutive results. It is
brilliant playing it is the cream of the crop. The top 16 players are
here because they are the best 16 in the world. With the number of
tournaments that they are playing, there are no excuses.
These are the best of the best showing.
And there have been more seats added. It is pretty healthy.
So far. We can't be too complacent. Next year a few more. As long as we
satisfy the demands of the fans and give those watching or buying a
ticket value for money, then we're in a good place.
You are always trying to promote recognition of the sport around the
world. It struck me as looking at the statistics, there is a Qureia
layings to be made with other sports, this fellow, Mr Hendry is
top of the pile when it comes to majors. In the snooker, the
official, Triple Crown, the Masters, the unchampionship and the World
Championship. It is extraordinary. Look at that 18, in tenny, Federer.
A more direct correlation, it's a head-to-head sport. Should we be
referring to the achievements of these man more often in relation to
these sports? I think we should. I think there is a loft correlation
between snooker and golf. There are 120 events in snooker, as
there are in golf, roughly. Maybe the other events to put into
that, when the BBC had four events, there was the Grand Prix,
equivalent, to, slightly less than in the UK but the three you have
now, the tournaments, I think is a fascinating list to look at. Selby
is coming up on the bottom but how long before he is five or six more
years, he could be challenging the greats of the golf.
Or indeed Ronnie. Ronnie O'Sullivan could conceivably win this.
Ronnie could go beyond if his career in politic, of course, doesn't
progress! We know he is think being being a member of Parliament next,
there is no limit to what Ronnie O'Sullivan can achieve on that list
or in the world in general. It is seldom that we make direct
comparisons with other sports, is it a fair test? We call the three
major, those were the three at the start of the season, if I didn't win
one, I would have been disappointed with my season. I always prioritised
these three events, the World Championship, then the Masters, then
the UK. Every other events, maybe it is too black and white to call them
practice, as there are huge amounts of money in the events but these
three it is right to call them majors in my view.
Exactly. I'm not suggesting that we redesignate them as major but it is
helpful for the public to know that these are our majors? For the UK
market, without a doubt. But we are a global sport. I dare say that the
friends in China are looking to push the prize money. They would
definitely want the fourth, fifth, sixth, and seventh major. But it is
good to talk about these things and compare the greats of the past with
the current greats. Sports is about promotion and perception, the
promotion of the sport by statistics like that and perception of the fact
that we are an ongoing growing sport in a much better state than other
sports currently. Is there a huge history.
The history is longer with every year! It's a plus for u Hazel! True.
With the three big events, you notice that the live audiences are
in a different league to the other tournaments. People want to come and
see these three. Ne that is true. The bigger events
get bigger and bigger and bigger. The medium-sized events are bigger
than the smaller events, they tick on. But the World Championship, the
Masters, those two, from a crowd participation, are light years away
from others. The UK coming up third. The other issue I have to speak to
you about is ongoing, we touched on it at the UK Championship, a feature
of the 128. The fact that there are increasing Muralitharanings and
grumblings if it is viable for the people at the bottom end of the 128
to make a proper career and sport out of this. Even Ronnie O'Sullivan
and Neil Robertson have had something to say. Have you thought
about that? I am zoontly value waiting the state of the sport. That
is what I do. I disagree completely with any idea
about restricting the number of players, I'm in the world of dreams.
I'm trying to create opportunities, not to reduce them. At the same time
acknowledging that there is a problem for the lower ranked players
in term of survival. Sport has to be brutal to be attract I have. That is
it in a nutshell. Only a few players get the to top. We have a
responsibility to give opportunity first and as the game grows and the
prize money has trebled in six years if it trebles in another six years I
will not be surprised but what I have to do is edge a little more of
the prize money down to the lower levels, to give them something to
breathe but I don't want them thinking it is easy. It will is not.
I have had criticism, Ronnie said the other day, he change, as he
always changes, one minute there should not be 128 but 64, and then
the next, more money into the last echelons of the game. You cannot do
both. It takes time to develop a proper prize money structure. We on
that journey. In the World Championship, I am sure we will talk
about how there is a shift towards the lower ranked players, I will say
not enough, I will say it is enough to keep you alive and hungry to try
to achieve what the greats have achieved. The day of sport where
there is no opportunity, you may as well pack up and go home. Always,
great to hear and interest to hear what you have to say. Now, what this
man is to avail himself of is the seniors. We may see him back at the
Crucible? It will be a pleasure. Steve and I have crossed swords a
number of times. I always feel, I still feel, that he packed up too
early. So I'm pleased to see him back in some shape or form.
Barry, we are getting on with this cracking second match. Always lovely
to see you. Back we go, then. Frame five.
Well, with the mid-session, and we have changed things around. Two very
good opening frames. The players waiting while the spectators return
to their seats. Thank you, ladies and gentlemen,
frame five. Ronnie O'Sullivan to break.
Two scrapping frames but intriguing. And talking about intriguing it is
always that to listen to Barry Hearn talking. And great to see that
Stephen Hendry is playing in the seniors, John. We are playing. I
would love to see Stephen Hendry back at the Crucible Theatre.
Yes, it should be a good tour and a bit of fun, which is what it should
be about. We have all been competitive all of our live but
nothing wrong with playing with something with a bit of fun
involved. I'm sure it will be. Well, the mid-session, and that may
change things around. Have a look at that for an opening
basmati. John, do you think he could drop on the red next to the black.
And he may have an angle up on to the brown to play on to that.
It depends on the angle on the brown, as you say. It is a natural
angle to split the back. But I'm sure he won't play that.
A loose red there. That's pretty good. He is on the
red. This opens the black up in play for the blue this time.
Still a few reds available but if he wants to, he could go into the pink.
The sort of shot that Ronnie would play himself. But other players tend
to do it slightly different. It depends on how he feels. The one at
the back of the pack, if he gets on that, John, then he can open the
reds. . Yes, he may play away from that
and leaf the cue ball low. Pots the reds and then the black. Depends on
how he goes about it. A lot more pressure on this shot
than there should have been. Excellent.
He must have read your book, John. That is probably the best play in
the game. Potting balls from being take on the cushion.
You can only just see the top of the ball.
Think being that first session, if I were the two players going into a
2-2, I would have been slightly happier had I been Neil Robertson.
Obviously 2-1 down in his match, so to level it, it is great. But on the
balance of play, Ronnie was better in the opening session but, what you
have done with Ronnie O'Sullivan, is to establish yourself in the match,
you have not let him runaway and kept the crowd fairly quiet. So 2-2
at the interval for Neil, would have been a pretty decent score. And he
started this frame like he started the match.
Still a couple of more reds available after that one.
He might leave himself with the black to cannon into the reds. He is
not that many pots away from securing the frame with one visit. A
visit that started with a Neil Robertson special.
as to whether he will win this frame at this visit.
He wants the cannon the red in the middle there. But he wanted to play
that with a bit of screw. He's stunned that in there. It
needed a bit of screw, so when he canoned that it would come from the
left-hand side of the table but he just stunned it in. He must have
thought when he played it, he was bound to be on one but if he had
played the screw shot, he would have guaranteed being in.
Now 59 points. A healthy lead but not with the way that the balls are
situated. That is far from being safe.
He could do with marking something on to a cushion if he is playing the
safety shot here as a little bit of insurance. But it will not be easy
to put the reds, to keep them safe, an guarantee a good position for the
cue ball. He's going to need a bit of help.
We have three types of spider under the table. That's the extended
spider. He can play this as a shot to
nothing but it's awkward cueing. He will need the extension and not
able to see the shot as he is so far away from the shot. He will have to
judge it. Yes! Very difficult that shot.
Certainly striking down, and also trying to get some safety with it.
It is a shot, where if you play all out for the pot, you have a better
chance. If you try a two in one shot, you don't get either, you
don't get the safety or the basmati Can Ronnie make a counter punch? And
after the all the hard work at the start of that frame for Neil
Robertson... Will he is set the frame up for Ronnie O'Sullivan to
come and steal it? The way that the reds are, they are lovely, aren't
they? Couldn't be better, John. Even the one next to the pink will be
available. Hang on... What has he played there?
Well, ways going to say it was a careless shot the one before. I know
for the player with visibility, a straight shot to the side but it
shouldn't have been straight. Such a margin for error here. To
overhit that. It is a lively cloth but that was very poor. Can he cut
this one in? What a shot this would be.
Nope! So that excellent opportunity has disappeared rapidly.
I bet Neil Robertson can't contain his excitement, being back at the
table. The way that Ronnie has been hitting
it this afternoon. When he has had chances, he's been cueing
beautifully. I whet can't believe he's back at the table.
I bet he can't believe he's back at the table.
Interesting to see how it affects Ronnie O'Sullivan. He's looked
focussed this afternoon. Inside, he will be seething as what
he's just done. If you want to give your opponents
any more confidence... Keep doing what you've just done.
Neil will be feeding off that. A complete contrast to the two
frames before the mid-session interval.
This has been going less than 12 minutes.
A little bit of an exhibition shot. So much side there. It looked like
the white was going to stop at the cushion behind the black. Then it
spun the table. There's another exhibition shot from
the Australian. That in? Yes. Two visit, Neil
Robertson. An earlier break. Ronnie had a chance to counterattack, he
didn't take it. The Australian leads. 3-2.
So, 3-2 in front and the Australians, Neil Robertson, a
fantastic red to get him under way. An interesting frame.
Neil played a poor position into the bunch. It broke down. Odds on it
looked like Ronnie O'Sullivan could clear up to win. He was favourite to
win the frame when he got in. Ronnie will be fuming. These matches
between two top players, this is what John mentioned in commentary,
it's the frames you shouldn't win. They can decide the winner
sometimes. When the players are so evenly matched. Ronnie will be
disappointed at the chance of that missed opportunity. And the chance
to give a psychological blow. It would have given Neil Robertson a
bit of confidence and taken the edge of Ronnie. That can snowball and
irritate him slightly. It will be interesting to see how he kicks on
from here and how Neil Robertson kicks on as well. Now he has the
upper hand, he has a bit more confidence. It has been very, very
interesting. It has. That indeed was Robertson's
best break since the first frame when he made a 74. He appears to be
in good stroke again. And that's the pretty good break-off
shot. I I mean if the red was not near the
black, Ronnie would have a go. But because of the red being next to the
black, you can't. He would leave that on.
So just containing this escape off the side cushion.
It could have been judged a little better. It doesn't want to be
leaving any sort of basmati For Neil, this is awkward bridging. He
is not contemplating that red to the left of the blue.
Well, he holds his hand up. That was a nice little flick off the brown to
fluke the snooker. And this is another careless one
from Ronnie... He just can't keep presenting opportunities. Not that
this is a gimme by a long stretch. You can't give up opportunities.
He is starting to look a little worrying in that frame, Ronnie, like
he was losing momentum in the match. I think he can drop on the black,
you know. Come around between the red and the black there.
Well, he decided that was risky. But he's the wrong side of the blue. It
looked as if he could possibly have held fob the black.
He's going to have to swing this around the angles again to leave
pink or blue. Now that's such a good shot. That's
beautiful. That's the type of shot you have to get loads of screw on
it, and then hit it softer than you think. He played that really well.
Now, how's your luck? Pretty good! Just OK. I thought that red was
going to block the path for the blue but it's easily possible.
Just wondering, that shot to the pocket that Neil Robertson missed,
how important is that in the context of the match? He got it down to 3-2
in the first opportunity. It is little things like that in these
matches that make all of the difference, certainly with the top
boys. The shot in the middle pocket, just
to the far jaw. Instead of it being your opportunity, it's gone to
Ronnie. Will it be costly? Pink out of commission, black a
little awkward. I'm not sure if it's available to the right corner, the
black, but he's got the perfect angle on the blue to get back into
nice position. Needs to be straight on this red, so
he can roll it in and leave that black. If he's not straight on it...
Well, he'll have to wait for another chance. Going up for the blue again.
A little bit pacey this time, so a slight change of plan again. One of
those shots where you probably are on the side of being a seat, just in
case you end up on a baulk colour instead. Oh! You don't want to be
missing the green. Wow. Well, all I can put that down to is
a lapse in concentration. Or maybe a little bit of the previous frame in
his mind. If he's not got position, he will
have been very lucky. Named two is looking at that red at the back.
Does it pot? Difficult to know. Well, that was your answer, but I
didn't expect named two to make such a poor attempt at getting the cue
ball in the baulk area. -- I didn't expect Neil to make such a poor
attempt. Not left any, but given Ronnie and easy way to come back.
Not the best, because you can't afford to leave Neil Robertson these
long pot. He's so good at them. Oh, and that's a useful cannon on
the blue. Let me show you this terrific long pot again. Wobbled a
few times but, without the cannon on the blue, he'd have been out of
position. He'll settle for that. You have to
say, Dennis, one or two worrying signs at the minute. Ronnie
O'Sullivan is looking second-best in this match. Green off the spot, not
expecting him to miss that ever. Yeah and, make no mistake about it,
the Australian Neil Robertson will pick up on those couple of errors
that Ronnie has made and it will give him an extra little boost.
As a competitor, you can remember as well as anybody, when you sense a
bit of weakness in your opponent, it's time to make the most of it,
and you can see that's what Neil Robertson's doing.
I wonder whether he can bring any reds out? Yes, forcing through to
bring a single red out. That was a good shot.
He could have done with getting a little bit more side on that. He may
have to go up the table. If the blue is available, you can play on that.
It would be nice to get the blue back of its spots, but not
essential, but that's what he's got in mind. Pot this read and leave
himself on the blue and get back to the scoring end of the table.
Neil had a little look before. Might be a chance of a plant, but I don't
think it's on. So there's nothing there. What does he do here? Does he
play for the single red or take a chance? If he's got a natural angle
to come off the side cushion, he could play a cannon into that pink
and free reds, but it's not a big target. He is looking at the single
red, but he's got a couple of options.
I don't blame him. If he can pot this red... I think he wanted the
cue ball to go a bit further. Quite an easy cannon off the blue into
that pink and three reds. Yeah, I think it was a little awkward. The
white was a bit too close to the question to risk potting the blue
and disturbing those three reds and pink.
He didn't cue that well. Just cued across that one slightly. For a
putter like Neil Robertson, you'd have to say that's a poor miss.
A nice little half ball on the blue, and it's all about the cannon here.
Just need these to open up and to land on one and he would be a
massive favourite in this frame. That'll do.
Nice to have enthusiasm, but shouting out at the wrong time can
put the player off. We mentioned earlier there would be slightly
worrying times, but there will be seriously worrying times if he
doesn't win the frame from here, because the are absolutely lovely
now. -- these are absolutely lovely now. Green to brown could be the
only slight pick-up, but we wouldn't expect it. We have had four or five
matches that have gone to a deciding frame already. This could be another
one of those that might go all the way, John. Yes, Neil Robertson will
be sat in his chair, kicking himself about the red he missed. OK, it
wasn't easy, but he was in command in the frame.
Just needs to make sure of the green. 24, the difference. This will
secure the frame. A good response from Ronnie and,
once again, we are all square. Great match.
Well, Neil Robertson had a chance for a two frame advantage. He didn't
take it. Ronnie O'Sullivan took his chance. We are all square, 3-3.
It's a cracking afternoon's play, isn't it? Three apiece, and a couple
of missed reds from Neil Robertson. There was one to the centre pocket
and a long one later. These type of reds for Neil Robertson are like
bread and butter. As the lad spoke about in commentary, when you sense
a bit of weakness in your opponent, it's time to step up and drive the
nail home and drive your advantage home, and that was a great
opportunity for Neil Robertson to establish a two frame lead. Your
assessment of the way this match is ebbing and flowing? The first two
frames, in terms of scoring, the standards have dropped drastically,
but it hasn't left the match left interesting. Lots of mistakes, which
you wouldn't expect from these players. Bring it on.
It's always nice to see the centuries flying in, but sometimes
it's nice to watch this type of snooker where both players are
missing the odd chance. I think they both want this one so badly, John.
There's a good, intense rivalry between these two. They both have
the ultimate respect for each others came.
Sometimes we say about Ronnie that some matches he played in are a bit
easy for him and he isn't getting tested, but he's going to get tested
this afternoon, that's for sure. You can see from his attitude that he's
enjoying it. Just come up a bit short. Ronnie
might be tempted because, if he can get round the back of the black and
red, if he takes the pot on here... That's OK. Hasn't left anything.
What's the angle like he's left for Neil? Has he got a pot at one? Yet,
here goes. You never know where the red you
play is going to go but it's finished up OK. A very attacking
shot on here. Whether he'll take it or not, I don't know.
Decided to play the safety shot. A good one it was as well. There's a
pot on the red on the right-hand side of the cluster where you could
play and screw back for blue. He wasn't having any of that. He is
taking this pot on, but keep your eye on the cue ball. It's going to
head towards the black and reds. Where will it finish up? He's found
the gap. Is he going to finish on the green? I mean, if he really
powers the green in, he's left-handed so he might be able to
reach round. He's over six foot tall, so he's got quite a stretch.
Even then, he'd have to force this, and he could miss the pot if he
tries to clock it too hard. It's tight on the question, so it's not
totally over the pocket. Not a complete gimme. Still got to cue it
well, just to the pot. Wright he's trying to get in behind it.
He had to use the jaw of the pocket, and he just misjudged it slightly.
A similar sort of shot for Ronnie. Neil found the gap. Where will the
cue ball go this time? You say you make your own luck. He
deserved it after that pot. That was brilliantly struck and controlled.
Perfect. Just feel with this match, the way it's been going, certainly
in the last few frames, the boys mentioned in the studio that they
haven't been one visit, winning these frames. One player could just
step up and grab hold of this match with some scoring. They could run
away with it. Still got that one red at the back
of the bunch that is available to him. Let's see how he gets it. He's
left it in such a way that he can develop a few more. But has to make
sure he doesn't lose position. A little is done there, the cue ball
running through. -- a little stun. Good cueing. That's exactly what he
got. That was beautifully struck as well.
He did the right thing, a bit like a golfer. He hadn't quite make his
mind up and he got back up off the shot and got back down again. The
worst thing you can do is change your mind when you are down on the
shot and continue. It was a lot better than it looked. Very well
pursued. -- very well cued. Striking down on it, right the way through,
and then screw back up for the brown. More difficult than it
looked. He can obviously play some sort of
cannon off the blue into the reds if he wants, but he is worried about
losing the cue ball. The single red on the right-hand side of the
pink... He is looking at coming round the angles off the ground.
He's trying to guarantee position here, as opposed to taking a chance.
-- coming round the angles off the brown. Well, he took too long on
that. Surely he's not going to fluke it... Well! No reaction from Neil,
but that is one of the biggest flukes you could ever wish to see.
He couldn't make his mind up. You wanted to take the blue and get a
little cannon. He didn't want to risk that. In the end, he got down
and missed the brown by a long way. How did he look into that corner
pocket? He's played a few strange shots.
It's as if he's lost his concentration somewhat. He just got
down... If the plant was on, you don't just get down and hammer it
like that. I wonder if he felt guilty for
getting the fluke. Well, it might come back to want
him, the way he played that plant. -- to haunt him. Just hit it that
hard, didn't give it a chance. But this was amazing. He couldn't make
his mind up. In the end, he missed by a long way.
And then, to see it go in-off the red...
Meanwhile, this is not a straightforward chance for Neil
Robertson. OK, so those two reds on the left-hand push on shouldn't be
as much of a problem to him as a right-hander. -- the left-hand
cushion. Nevertheless, not ideally situated.
He has the option. He could play this firmly and try and flick the
red out or try and drop in behind. Could have played it firmer to move
the red that's above the cue ball out. But chose not to do it that
way. Not the best positional shot at
Neil's ever played. He's probably already thinking about the two reds
that are slightly awkward, one very awkward, the one on the right side
of the table not too badly placed. Going back to that shot early on,
when he was on the black, he could have tried to flick that red out. I
know he's left-handed, but that's a tricky shot, where that is, halfway
up the cushion. It will have to be negotiated later.
He's got a slight angle on the black. He's left-handed. He can play
to drop in behind it or he can try to cannon it out. Not the perfect
angle. He'll have to really power this in. And he certainly powered it
in. But not quite far enough. So it looks like it will have to be a
safety, and Ronnie will be relieved. I think he felt that Neil might
finish it up there. Still in the balance, this. When Ronnie missed
the brown, he had an alternate shot. We might be able to show you...
I thought he could have taken the blue and played the cannon on the
two reds. He thought for ages and couldn't quite make his mind up and
he hammered the brown and missed it. That was a bit hazy. Oh, the blue
has come to his rescue. -- a bit pacey. Yes, Neil raised his eyebrows
slightly. Must have been thinking that was going to be a chance. OK,
the green is over the corner. That might have been stopping a pot.
Yeah, "Is nice he is saying. -- yeah, "Is nice blue", he is saying.
He's got to get the swerve on it. He could be knocking it towards the
yellow pocket. He's in a lot of trouble, and he will take that. He
might not like the next shot. Ronnie can get in behind the black here.
He hasn't hit it hard enough. He missed a trick there.
They are wearing normal ties, and you could see Neil pulling at the
time. That is why we used to wear bow ties, even during the day,
because a normal tie gets in your way slightly. Oh, that's right over
the pocket. I'm a massive fan of Neil Robertson, I really am, but I
think he's played two or three shots today totally out of character for
him. He never, ever does that, what he's just done.
For him to play that I mean, obviously the priority with that
shot is, do not put the object ball over the middle pocket.
Whoever loses this frame will be sore.
He overhit that, and now it's going to be awkward, because he also needs
the brown. Having a quick look at the scoreboard. 15 ahead. Needs
green and brown, and he's going to need a little bit of assistance to
get to this. I don't know if he can do it with the rest. Might just be
able to cue past the blue. But he could miss it if he gets it too
hard. He left angle. You could play with a bit of running side, just to
flick it in. That was the good news about that shot. Well, one good long
pot and we are right down the line of the shot. It's there.
Neil needs a snooker, as you can see.
Did that previously in the match, when he missed a pink in the middle
and had to wait for another ten minutes. We'll show you the miss in
the blue -- on the blue that would have kept Neil in his seat.
It looks like nothing, those situations, but it stops your
momentum. At 4-3 up, you could give yourself ten, 15 minutes of complete
aggravation for no reason at all. It's been a funny frame, this, it's
had a little bit of everything. With only needing the one snooker,
there is no way Neil would be potting the blue, if he had a
chance. More chance of the snooker with the paint the black on the
table. As well as playing for the snooker, you have to try to keep the
object ball safe. Well, he didn't mean to pot that. He's... He didn't
play to pot that. But it might be just behind the
black here but it's more difficult now with the one snookering ball on
the table. And the black is off its spot. The
closest to the cushion for the black is easier to get a snooker but where
it is now, you've got to be perfect. He's got one real good shot at it,
and it's not great what he's got any way, so, good luck with this one.
I'll tell you what, it's a pretty good effort if the pink pulls up...
It's just a bit too far but it wasn't a bad effort.
In or over is how you play that shot it's in! O'Sullivan... In the end
Ronnie O'Sullivan will be delight he gets himself into a four frames to
three lead. Intriguing but a strange afternoon.
At the start we had two big punches, we thought it would be crash, bang,
wallop, then suddenly, the nature of the match has changed.
You could argue in terms of standards, there has been the best
and the worst. It has had everything. But I expected, I know
that snooker is won in lots of different ways but I expected lots
of one-visit wins. It has been more scrappy than I expected. And the
moment of indecision, not for the first time from Ronnie, and after
the plant with the fluke brown, and one or two awkward moments from Neil
as well? And with the red, the last one on the table. He is trying to
play a container shot, putting the red on the left of the yellow in the
middle, and he butched it. Very, very disappointed with it. Some
safety shots you can play more aggressively and getting the cue and
the object ball safe but that was amateurish, for someone of Neil's
ability to play a shot like that. Especially when it looked like he
was getting to Ronnie. Ronnie was looking agitated. It looked like he
was getting on top. Then he let it slip and now he's thrown it back
into Ronnie's court. What is all of this telling about the pressure and
the desire levels of the two? There is no doubt that is very, very high
for the two. That is what is causing this lot, the misses.
And sometimes, the bake breaks of the ball. But it's making it very,
very interesting. A bit of a free pot for Ronnie. He
could go around the back of the black and take this on.
Yes, an interesting pot in that last frame. It ultimately went down to
the last red. A shot when Neil Robertson could have potted the
black and flicked the red up above his hand. If he plays it fair, and
that knock it is out, he could go on to win the frame but it was a bit of
a shot to nothing, really. I think he may have missed a trick there.
Ultimately, that red was the last he had to get, yet he couldn't get on
it. Right, that was what we call an
Aussie special! I mean, one of the greatest long potters the game's
ever seen without a doubt. Oh, he's just tremendous cueing.
Such a hard pot anyway but to knock it up to the top spot and get back
on side for the blue is just a wonderful shot. Yeah, I think I
mentioned at the start of the tournament how many great
left-handers there are in the game and what great potters they are.
Going way back there was only a few. Perry Mans, a great potter from
South Africa. But nowa day, I mean there's so many
great left-hander players. Then Jimmy White came on the scene. Mark
William, Judd Trump, Barry Hawkins... Well, he knocked in an
unbelievable opening red, how do you see him missing one like that? I
know. If anything, I was looking at Neil Robertson today and I've not
seen him play much but his concentration levels is not as high
as what it usually is. That's the only thing you can say, because he
would never miss a shot like that. A great pot from Ronnie. He did well
to avoid the cannon on that red there.
Ronnie's turn to sense weakness in his opponent.
Can he make the most of it? I agree with Stephenhandry,
standardwise, it has probably been one of the worst matches, although
it is still very, very exciting. But no century break.
The highest scores, 74, 63 but fascinating stuff.
Very similar to yesterday's match with Mark Williams and Mark Selby.
Mark Williams, played some fantastic match-play.
Oh, what's going on here at the minute. What is going on? Are we now
at the stage where both players are trying that little bit too hard?
Well, he got a heavy contact there. OK, the red's gone in but it's
spoiled the position outside of the shot.
I suppose in this year's masters, there hasn't been a great deal of
kicks. Unfortunately, like it happened
yesterday for Mark Williams on the blue, Neil Robertson's having to
take it on here, it was magnified but this is a big shot to take on.
Wow! Look at that. And to do it after the disapointment of the kick
and the loss of position is just fabulous.
I think he's still keen on winning this match, Dennis, after that shot?
As I say, they both want it so badly.
But it has to be said, Ronnie was in the balls, looking good.
And that's gone wrong. It's amazing, I was just about to say, with these
players, you expect these players to win with one visit. But there are
all sorts of little things going on. There's another one where it's ran
out of the red and on to position. I don't think it's desperate, he has
one insurance policy in the area over there. This could be going in.
So not all bad news there. He's got a chance here to pot the
yellow off the side and into the cushion for the pack. That's what he
played but he hit that so badly, he was nowhere near it! I don't know
about you, John but you sense, normally, you think they are in,
this will win the frame but you sense with what is going on, they
are not confident of winning the frame with one visit.
I don't think this will go in.ness there is a gap between the reds. If
those two reds are closer together it will squeeze it away to the
pocket. Let's see. Close together, the angle
he's got, he'll squeeze it away from the pocket, I think.
From that angle, maybe he could possibly make it. There is a little
gap between the reds. But he still doesn't fancy it.
25 for Neil. But he'll be kicking himself for that shot off the
yellow. The red over the middle there, it
was looking like a frame-winning chance but it's gone now.
It's good stuff, though, tennis, I don't know what's going to happen
next! You were on a programme, Question of Sport, you used to the
captain? What happened next? Well, he thought he could pot that.
The white needs to keep running otherwise he's left it. Yeah, I
think he can get past the blue. Someone shouted out "get in" we
don't need anyone like that shouting while the player is playing the
shot. It will put the player he's supporting off.
Once again, though, the position - it's not ideal for Ronnie.
He should be taking this one. Listen, you get enough bad luck at
time in the game, when you get a fluke like this, why not take full
advantage? It left the cushion and seemed to come back in. There was a
swerve on hitting the angles. I'm with you on it, you get a fluke,
you make the most of it. Wow, that's brown's been pretty good today,
hasn't it? It should have been in the other one but of course he
played a plant afterwards with not a lot of care. But what a fluke that
was. He didn't play that too well. That's
a bit careless there. He mist judged the cannon completely.
And he's just battling with himself a little bit at the moment. You can
see the abject disappointment on his face, when he cease the problems but
welcome to our world, Ronnie, that's what happens to most players!
Welcome back to Ronnie's World! Yep, for all the misses and bad safeties
and great safeties, you can't beat a little bit of luck. And what a fluke
that was. Still, Neil Robertson, very
focussed. A great temperament but that was hard to take. It means now
he will have to win the last three frames.
He's quite capable of doing that, as Ronnie overscrews the yellow. But
that doesn't matter. He will stay in his seat, or he might leave the
arena just to compose himself. Ronnie O'Sullivan, and no wonder
he's leaving the arena. He is now just one frameway from a place in
the semi-final. It's 5-3 to the Rocket.
Well, they say you make your own luck but Ronnie has had a coup of
slice there to take the two. Here, this came away from the
cushion. It got a little flick off the brown. But apart from the fluke,
Neil had his chance earlier on. He had a yellow. A target with the reds
around the pink. He didn't make it. He should have got in from that
position. It cost him. And it cost him.
And when Neil gets in, there are times he can't buy a positional
shot. Partly due to the pressure, maybe due to the fact he's not
playing so well in the last two to three months, so a lack of
confidence in the pit, as it were. So he's just not able to string.
Well, none of them are. And I wonder when you have had a
couple of pieces of luck go against you, as Neil has, does it confirm in
your head, you have to fight that feeling it will not be your day? You
are fighting against the elements and yourself. As Stephen says it
could be the lack of the edge he had before, the invincibility is a
little gone now. You do lose that little bit of edge.
He looks vulnerable out there. That is not normally what you say about
Neil Robertson. Normally, he loves this. This is the sort of occasion
he is made for. But he does not look comfortable.
And the route of this, at the start of the season he was thumped by
Ronnie O'Sullivan. And a year ago he was 5-2 up and lost seven frames on
the spin to Ronnie, so he's not had the best of times against Ronnie
since the semi-final Masters and he's really up against it now.
Yes, he certainly is. Ronnie a little short with the break-off
shot. He could do with a long pot here.
Just giving the cue a clean to make sure it's nice and smooth.
He could do with a couple of new Robertson "specials." He's at the
stage now where he knows he cannot afford many more misses.
That's a terrific opener in. Just having a look there, to see if
that back of the black is pottable at some stage. Obviously not playing
on it there but seeing if he can pot that and get it away from the black,
it will free it. But I don't know about that one.
Here he is again, checking to see. Those ones you have to keep the cue
ball high so when you pot the red you get the natural angle to screw
out for the black. But it's a tough pot in itself, that red, behind the
black. Certainly on these tables! He will be disgusted with that. You can
see him turn his head away, the one thing he did want to do is come low.
He's got into that a bit too much. It's very tight.
Yeah, not from that angle. If the white had been near and to
the right, slightly, it would have been OK.
Stephen mentioned in the studio he was struggling for positional play
today. Another example. Good opening pot.
If the red doesn't go in, have a look where the cue ball is, the fact
he potted it, he knew there would be a chance at the brown.
Boy, to hit it that hard and expect the pocket to accept the brown was
asking something... Oh, he's fouled it.
Janver Haas was looking, and Neil thought he was OK but he touched it
with his sleeve. Yeah, bad news on the foul.
Good news was, that came across and hit the black and didn't leave one
on! It could have been all bad for Neil there!
Interesting how Ronnie tapped the table a few times. He tapped the
table before the white got anywhere near the cushion. He knew where the
white was going to finish up. I don't mind him missing all
together with the first attempt... He'll have another go at it.
But he'll want to really make contact this time. Three misses from
this situation and you lose the frame. So can he get a thin enough
contact here? No! The referee will now warn Ronnie.
Is anything else going to happen in this match? Surely he's not going to
lose the frame from missing the reds three times.
Yeah, put plenty of chalk on the tip. The last thing you want to do
is miscue. Well, in the end it was a terrific
safety shot he played. But he is smiling there.
I tell you what, then, this is a big shot to take on.
Well, you were right, John, it was a big shot.
Don't be giving too many chances to someone like Neil Robertson. He was
in the jaws of the pocket. It was so close. But a very tough shot he took
on there. Yes, not a brilliant chance, this,
the blacks currently out of commission, the pink certainly is.
Brown's on the side cushion... Not perfect on the blue.
I suppose he could take the green, being left-handed. It might be a
natural angle back for the red at the bottom of the cluster, cos that
will pot. But is he hampered with his cueing?
Hmm, looks like it. He's looking at the blue to the
middle pocket. This is a thin cut. It could go out to the reds and open
the game up. That's a bit unlucky. It was a very
thin shot required. He got the main part of the shot. Didn't quite get
enough screw on it but to go off was unfortunate indeed.
And added unfortunate, I he he's opened the pink.
I think that the pink now goes. That red is removed from the pink. If
Ronnie can pot this side. He has pink or blue able. Well, he should
have had! What he needs to do is get that
focus fact that he had at the start of the match. It has to be said,
just a few little signs that he's getting a little frustrated with
himself. He sets himself such high standards, Ronnie O'Sullivan.
Didn't have much on. That was a good shot at Neil played. He knew he'd be
clipping the red towards the corner but as long as he could use the blue
to cover it up it was OK. A similar shot for Ronnie, but he has to be
careful. Has he covered it? Well, he's covered the one closest
to the pocket and the one on the side he's hampered by the yellow.
Not great from Neil. -- for Neil. I just noticed something with Ronnie
when he's down on the shots, it's as if he's moving around a little bit.
He never used to do that, rock-solid, but a bit of movement
when he was getting ready to deliver the cue.
Tough shot, viz. Yeah, not surprised he missed it, actually. On the
inside. He's not even looking to see about the red on the right-hand
side. Well, that, I suppose, he could have potted that and got on
the pink. He didn't even look at it, did he?
While they're replacing it, now, you see, there's where it is, nearly on
the brown spot. Looked as if he could take it on. Wouldn't have left
a great deal, but he had it replaced.
Now, it's Neil Robertson's turn to be warned. He won't even look at the
red this time. If he did this and missed it three times, it would be
frame and match, wouldn't it? It happened in the Irish masters, and I
think Ken Doherty was playing Steve Davis. Was it Steve lost the match
with three consecutive misses? You're dead right. That's what
happened. You can probably have a good bet that this will be too big
now. He'll be very careful. -- too thick.
Yeah, too thick, but he'll be glad when it's finished. The blue has
come to his rescue. Played that with a load of check
side. Needs to straighten the cue ball up. And he's played it very
well. Where the reds had turned up, he's had a bit of luck, of course,
covering those two near the corner pocket with the red that's further
up. So a bit of luck, but it was well played. First glance, looks
like a fair bit of trouble. Well, that's what he's faced with
there. As you can see, very difficult situation.
He'll have to give this one a little bit of thought, because he knows one
mistake here and he could be out of this year's Masters. Yeah, the two
reds near the top corner, the bottom one, Neil was looking to try and
drop on but if you don't get that right, you leave that red into the
middle pocket. He is seeing if he can go up dead weight and rest on
it, but you've got to get that right.
This is a very delicate. It's not going to reach.
That was the way he was trying to get in behind that red, and Ronnie
isn't having the one in the middle pocket, so the great difficulty with
that pot isn't something he fancies. But he's got Neil in a right load of
trouble here. Same shot, is it? Yeah. And he'll have to be warned
again, for the second time. That doesn't happen very often, where a
player's warned twice in one frame. REFEREE: I've got to warn you again,
if you play and miss, you'll the frame. And the match.
Well! He's given a foul away, seven points. Black would have gone. I
think it's the ultimate whammy. I think everything. -- I think
everything pots. He had to take on that possible pot. Some of the balls
were very awkward, but have a look at how the split up... To finish
like that and get the black on its spot, with everything in the open,
you couldn't ask for anything more, but the only thing is, the way it's
gone this afternoon, will it be over?
They've played each other twice in the Masters. Neil won 6-1 in the
semifinal in 2015. Ronnie won it 6-4 in round two in 2010.
Even that shot, Dennis, wasn't played up to his usual standards.
Down on the shot, he was like in two minds, how he played it. He should
be knocking this in, but little positional blips from Ronnie
O'Sullivan that you don't usually see. But these are spread lovely.
And no excuses now. I mean, before this match started,
we thought we were going to be in for century breaks flying in all
over the place, but Ronnie's highest break has been 63, Neil's 74, but
there have been lots of 50s and 40s and misses. We've had a bit of
everything. It's been great theatre this afternoon, that's for sure.
This audience this afternoon, OK, as you say, not centuries rolling up
every frame, but it's been fascinating right the way through.
It's been difficult to commentate on, because we haven't known what's
going on on occasions. People looking like they were going to
clear up, then if you missed pot -- then a few missed pots you wouldn't
get. But fascinating nonetheless. Neil Robertson had a chance to go
4-2 in front and, for me, that was the big turning point in the match.
The crowd here at Alexandra Palace have been very fair to both players.
A lots of Ronnie fans here, but Neil Robertson's had terrific support
also. But it's not going to be his year.
Just looked as if he had lost a little bit of focus, Ronnie. He was
very up for it at the start of the match, but just seemed to lose his
way. Probably because he set such a high standard. He's had a few flukes
here and there, which always help. Well, he will be delighted, Damian
Hirst there, his good friend. Interesting to hear what Ronnie has
to say about this match. The highest calibre. Both players, smiles for
each other. It's been a fascinating tussle between these two great
players, but Ronnie acknowledges the crowd, and he'll be absolutely
delighted. In the end, it was a comfortable win, 6-3 for the Rocket.
STUDIO: He is into his 13th master 's semifinal. He's only lost one
semifinal, which was a couple of years ago to Neil Robertson. What a
curious but nonetheless fascinating. Fascinating, intriguing. Not the
best standard that we've seen all week, but nonetheless engrossing.
Both players were missing. You saw how much it meant to both of them.
It was enjoyable in a sort of strange way, you know. In terms of
Ronnie's performance, how did it compare to the opening match against
Liang Wenbo? Similar bits and pieces, which is unlike him. But a
win is a win and he is in another semifinal. A winner once again, a
13th semifinal. A curious match was how edgy did it feel must I didn't
really care to be honest. The last much I played, I was so ill. Today I
felt at least I was physically OK. I know it wasn't great, but I tried my
hardest. I haven't been great all season but I'll keep trying my
hardest. That's all you can do sometimes. You looked focused. We
talked about the desire levels between you and Neil, because it's
always a big contest between you. I don't know for any of the top ten
playing each other, they are all tough matches. You've seen some
results this week, Hawkins beating Murphy comfortably. I haven't
watched much snooker. Judd Trump beating Marco Fu... Everybody seems
to be beating each other. I just keep trying. But I'm getting twitchy
now. I'm officially twitching. A better all was for violence in this
than against yen when both? -- a better or worse performance. The
other day, I was all over the gaffe. The last few days, I've been really
ill. This is the first day I actually felt normal. I was looking
forward to playing because I felt decent in myself. Were you surprised
with the misses that Neil Robertson was making? Sometimes it gets
contagious. And then you get to the table and you miss. I felt I dragged
him down, to be honest. That's what I'm doing, dragging them all down,
and they seem to be missing balls or something keeps happening for me.
That's all you can do sometimes. I've had a good 45 years of being
consistent. This has been not a great spell for me, but hopefully it
will turn around. -- a good four or five years. Everybody needs a bit of
luck. You had some of that. Loads of its! More today than I've had in the
last 20 years! I needed a bit of luck today to get through. When you
think back on silverware, it's been almost a year. You beat Neil in the
Welsh. You've been in three finals in the last few months. Does it
start to get twitchy customer at this level, clearly you'd rather be
winning titles and trophies, but are you feeling that another win is
coming your way? No, you have to win them. I played all right against
Selby, but the other two, I was a bit dodgy and didn't play well
enough to win. I missed two easy balls against Mark. Maybe that's
what happens as you get older. Sometimes I feel, you can just sense
you are missing too many easy balls. I need to cut them out. I'm going to
keep dragging my career out for as long as I can. That's all you can
do, isn't it? To be in the semifinal, not playing anywhere near
your best and still have a chance, it can only get better. It's nice to
know if your game comes back, but if I'm at that point where I'm
delusional and it's not coming back, and keep getting two quarters in
semis and keep getting beaten... You always think you are as good as you
were years ago. I don't want to waste ten years just playing and
thinking I'm good enough but actually not being. Hopefully I've
got three decent years. But you still believe you can win this? You
believe you can win it if you are playing well enough. I don't think I
am playing well enough to win it but a lot can happen in 24 hours. It
never comes back when it goes. But I'll just keep dragging it out. I'm
appreciative that I'm still playing at 40, 41, whatever it is. I
appreciate every time I get an opportunity to go out there. That's
what I'm saying, try and drag it out as long as you can. If the pension
fund was good enough, I'd have pulled myself... Absolutely!
Fantastic atmosphere. Amazing crowd. Does it give you a buzz coming out?
Yeah, but when you start playing a bit ropey, the pressure comes on.
When you don't play well, you feel you are letting down the supporters.
It can get it on top of you when you are playing well, you revel in it.
But I was a bit twitchy today. That's understandable. But you will
at least be aware of Mark Allen or Marco Fu. It's going to be a
fascinating match between them. What are your thoughts on Marco's
resurgence? He played me in the UK and I knew he'd changed his
technique. He looks so much aggressive. It's had an impact on
all of his game. As well as being clinical around the balls, he looks
confident. You'll find it a lot easier to get over the line. That's
the only thing that held him back. He played fantastic in Glasgow and
greatly against Judd Trump. I don't think he'd beat Judd Trump with his
old technique. Playing with that confidence, when somebody like Judd
is playing that well, you've got to go toe to toe and out punching and
stay in till the end and out bottle. Marco did that because he playing
more aggressive. To play that consistently, you need to play that
game, unless you are Selby, who can tie you up in knots. Mark Allen has
plenty of bottle, he's shown that. We saw in that final frame decider
against John Higgins, it's almost like when the pressure gets more
touchy-feely for him, he seems to respond better. Is that your view? I
always thought he was a great match player. Like Marco, you could
probably do with more of a power game to stay with the top guys. A
lot of these guys, they see one shot and that opens the game up. If you
can't do that comfortably, it's difficult to build momentum was a
lots of these guys can win six or seven frames on the bounce through
heavy scoring. It's unlikely you're going to scrap a tournament, you
know? You might scrap the odd match but at some point you've got to
start making 100s. Are you going to call that match? No, because I'll
end up getting it wrong! I'm just going to go and chill out. Whoever
it is, you'll meet them on Saturday. Speaking of that other quarterfinal
this evening, it's going to be between Marco Fu, as we said, and
Mark Allen. It was here in the Masters, the semifinals 2011, when
Mark was 4-1 up and Marco beat him 6-4, at a time when Mark Allen was
getting to semifinals in big events but really no further. Now he's got
three world ranking titles, the same number as Marco, but eight years
fewer as a professional. Mark Allen, he beat John Higgins to get this
point, and earlier he caught up with Stephen Hendry. I hadn't won a
decider in the Masters before. I don't think so. I just happened to
see a thing before I started one of the slats. I think I'd lost a six
designers in eight or nine years of play. -- six deciders. It's not
something you want going through your mind when you are playing. It's
hard enough as it is! But finally breaking the duck. We get asked who
we think are going to win tournaments, and you probably never
an -- mentioned. You have one isn't... To get these big events,
what do you need to do? I think I need to lose weight. I practised so
hard at work so hard at the game. There has to be something. It's hard
that tournaments eat properly. There is no excuse if you wanted to eat
well you would. I was never hungry before a match. I understand that.
Sometimes you come in after a late match and the only place open is a
takeaway and it's not ideal. At you have to go out of your way deep 12.
So you need to start looking a four in your mouth. Yes. I practice hard
and it's annoying when I am not competing against these big players.
I know I have the game to do it, I'd never questioned my ability, but I
need to start doing things about it. I'm doing everything I can on the
table so I need to get right off the table. I'm not comfortable with what
I'm doing technically. I practised hard at Christmas, a few days off, a
few drinks, but in general I practised quite a lot. I don't
normally do that, even though my results were pretty poor in the
championship league last week, I thought it was good for me to go and
play and play the top players in the world invest fives. I haven't done
that in five years before the Masters. You're known for not
mincing your words on Twitter, which I think is the right way to be. Are
you going to change that? Probably not. I have got a few fans in recent
months with my comments. But unfortunately for me some people
don't like hearing the truth. Just because I play snooker doesn't mean
I'm not allowed to have an opinion. I maybe go on about things the right
way. I've tried to get myself on the player's Forum. What's happened
there? Is such a drawn-out process for something so simple. I don't
know where I stand at the minute, but I am trying and I know that
Shaun Murphy has got on, Mark Williams is trying. We are the ones
who are more vocal on Twitter and we feel changes need to be done, so
people automatically feel I am complaining, but I'm trying to go
down the right channels. I think it's a no-brainer that you've done
that. I like to think I'm quite objective, looking at the whole
tour, not just what's best for me. I look at what's best for the game,
and changes need to happen, but it's a long road ahead. Interesting
thoughts from Mark Allen, as ever. As he said, he's toned down this
mode of communication. I think we all remember when he walked into
that press room in York with gaffer tape over his mouth to make a point.
He says he's doing things the right way. Is he being listened to? I
think so. He wants to come onto the players Forum, which is a good step,
as our Mark Williams and Joe Perry and Shaun Murphy. He has been vocal
and he has the game at heart, as we all do, but we all have different
opinions. It would be great to get around the table. We have a meeting
on Monday. We will have a chat, and with the powers that be as well.
That will be quite interesting. At the end of the day, we all want the
game to progress, not just from the top but all the way down to the
bottom. We want what's best for everybody. Hopefully when we get our
heads together some positives will come. Mark Allen the player, 2011,
that semifinal against Marco Fu, his opponent this evening and, in the
intervening years, he's finally converted that semifinal potential
into three world ranking titles. The changes he feels he has to make, he
wants to shed a few pounds. In your view, is that what's required? If he
feels it's not giving him the stamina he requires to go through
tournaments or whatever... There's no doubt, if you feel healthy or
feel good, you're going to play better. He definitely needs to, well
it's important to his snooker, but he needs to do something, because we
never think of Mark Allen as one of the favourites to win these events,
Selby, Judd Trump, Neil Robertson, he's never mentioned. He needs to
get into that company. It's not easy. If the game was easy to be a
winner, everybody would be winning. Maybe he feels something drastic has
to be done. He is just knocking on the door, just outside the top four
or five players, and you would probably put Ding Junhui in there as
well. Keep Robbie just needs a big win here or elsewhere. -- he
probably wins. That would give him confidence so, when he comes out on
the top stages, the feels like one of top men. With Ronnie, is
technique, sometimes his technique, he's not got the all-round, every
shot in his armoury, like the top players have. Mark Allen, there are
maybe one or two that he can't because of his technique. Maybe he
needs to tweak something there. These are the other fellows who are
in it. Let's have a look at the draw.
Ronnie is through to a 13th semifinal. The match this evening
will be live on the red button and online and on BBC Two for the first
hour or so. Joe Perry playing with real freedom at the moment, after
mauling Stuart Bingham, the former world champion, in the opening
round. Ding Junhui with his first win ever at Ally Pally. Barry
Hawkins, a surprisingly straightforward victory over Shaun
Murphy last night. That means he's up against the world number one,
Mark Selby. It's Kerry and Ding who will be on Friday evening, Selby
against Hawkins tomorrow afternoon. Selby against Hawkins will be
interesting, because they are both very gifted, and great ring craft.
Great all-round games, great match players. Somebody like Selby, they
will inspire sundry like Hawkins, but two top match players. You want
to pitch between them. Selby will be touch, but Hawkins played well.
Interesting lower half of the draw. I am sure we will see a great deal
more from Jason, because he will be on with our second quarterfinal at
7pm. It is Marco Fu against Mark Allen, and you can see that from 7pm
on BBC Two, and it will move onto online and the red button from
thereafter. It's been another day. The Rocket has come through. You
need a bit of luck, but he is there. From Ally Pally, goodbye.
To break someone physically... Agh! ..is not a problem.
Quarter-final action gets underway this afternoon at Alexandra Palace. Live coverage is introduced by Hazel Irvine.