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Our first semi-final started this afternoon. They only seem to meet
these days on the grandest occasions. Their last three have all
been finals, most notably right here 12 months ago. Since then the
Shanghai Masters Ding Junhui claimed. But then he was swamped by
Mark Selby. Now, they cross cues again under the Crucible's
Spotlight. They got under way at One and ding Junhui has forced in front
and we join them in the opening session. It's frame three being
watched by Ken Doherty. Danny Willet here with his manager.
Always lovely to see Danny about. He looks as thrilled as anyone when he
put the green jacket on, Sergio Garcia. Wonderful moment.
That is ok. He's got a red into the right corner pocket. That was his
thousandth ball potted. He's 101 behind Ding Junhui but, as we said
earlier, Ding Junhui's played a few more frames.
Potting this red, he'll open the part of the black into both pockets.
Prime position now on the red. That's below the pack of reds, open
into the same pocket where the black has gone. He wants to get on that
red. If he leaves it at a nice angle, which he has done, he can pot
this red now and bring some more reds into play from the pack.
Wonderful shot. That's the way to play or break build. Neckache red to
the edge of the cluster goes and it has. It's been played inch perfect.
Another 25 points required. He'll be at the snooker required stage.
Played the red to the right middle. Nice angle. Stung down for the black
once again. I don't know whether he can roll it through and play for the
pink. He's playing this other one here. He'll be running into another
red. He's got to be careful where the cue ball finishes. Watch the
middle pocket. Played it confidently. Hitting that red, as he
did, sent it back to the same end that the cue ball was travelling.
Looks very straight on this blue. Under-screwed slightly. Shouldn't
cause a problem. It's perfect. Blue will put him 63 points in front.
Still 75 remaining. Excellent stuff. This blue to go 69
points in front with just 67 remaining.
Yellow. Three blues, six blacks and now a pink.
We could see Mark make a century here. He's played it well.
Hasn't been out of position once. The way they're potting, you don't
expect them to miss easy balls. It's all about controlling the cue ball.
Already made four centuries. He gets on this red, you can see number five
coming up. Red for the century. Oh, just a
fraction off! Well, he can't be too disappointed. That break was
exemplary. A treat for four frames. All square. Two apiece. That was the
champion's response to having gone behind in any match for the first
time in the Championship. After the interval, Ding took two of the next
three to lead 4-3 as we head into what was their last frame of the
opening session. Back we go. Well, would you believe that. That's
amazing. Never expected him to miss the big
target. Hit the pink and leave this red on.
He's going to have to sit there now and wonder how many points that
mistake's cost him. Straight into them. Straight into them. Nicely on
one to the right corner. That was very positive. And boy did he play
that well. Yes, didn't want to hit the pink that time, wanted to hit
the red to the left of the pink. Played it to perfection.
The pink and blue available. And of course the black is available into
the right corner pocket. Could free up the black into both
corner pockets. He's played it. He's played it. Yes.
That's the beauty of break-building, you give yourselves options.
His cue ball control is just that little bit better than Mark Selby in
these opening exchanges. 48 points from that position to get
to the snookers required stage and take a two-frame advantage into the
second session tomorrow. Has the angle to go into the two
reds. Right above the black. That is what he's looking at. I'm sure the
top red of those two goes into this bottom right hand corner pocket.
Just got a wonderful touch. Makes the breaks look so easy because of
his position on the cue ball. When you watch where he puts the cue
ball, it's no more than six or eight inches from the next ball.
They say the best breaks are the ones where people say, well I could
have potted that! Well, the reason is, because he keeps leaving himself
inch perfect. Nice angles on every ball.
This is a big frame. Two-frame advantage.
A good afternoon afternoon's work. It all came from that split. He hit
the blue, couldn't go into the pink, had to hit the red full ball. Just
look at the reds that he opened up beautifully. Excellent shot.
Just a little hampered by the pink. I think he only has to roll the red
in to get position on the black. Didn't have to do too much with the
cue ball. We were talking at the start of the
match with Hazel in the commentary box about how he'd feel after
beating Ronnie O'Sullivan and Gary Baldry, remember he used to go
around with Ding Junhui a lot, in China it was always looked upon,
could he beat Ronnie O'Sullivan and, you know, I mean we looked at the
head-to-heads before he beat him yesterday and it was 10-2 to Ronnie.
The fact he's now beat Ronnie has proven to everybody that he's
capable of beating anyone in the game. I think he's taken that
confidence into this. APPLAUSE.
The applause tells you that he's past the point where Mark Selby
needs snookers. Not only beating Ronnie but beating him at the World
Championship as well, over the best of 25 frames. And Ronnie playing
well. Let's not forget that. Yes. We were a little bit concerned, would
he have a slight hangover from that win.
There's another wonderful positional shot.
It's had no effect on him. If anything it's given him that air of
confidence. This is going to be a cracking semi-final. Ding's going to
have the slight initiative. I'm sure Mark Selby will be coming back at
him. I'm sure we are in for a great match with both players playing at
the top of their game. Nine century breaks so far in the
tournament. Three in each match. The only thing we've missed this
afternoon is a century. Wonderful play by Ding Junhui.
His 63rd century break of the tournament so far. Remember, 86 was
the record. Lovely shot. He's not on the yellow. He's going to end on
110. He'll be very pleased with his afternoon's work.
He leads the defending champion. Mark Selby with a bit to think
about. Didn't Ding Junhui do well? He sure did. That was Ding's tenth
century of the Championship as you heard so far and it underscores his
lead as well. He'll take a two-frame advantage into the second session at
10am tomorrow. The defending champion joins us now, chasing the
game a little bit Mark and had a problem with the tip of the cue.
What is the latest? I managed to get a new tip on. Anything over distance
six foot and beyond, I didn't have any confidence the get any reaction
out of it. When playing safety shots, I felt as though there was no
throw-off, no life left in the tip. I thought if I was to go on and win
that match, the tip would get worse, so I thought I'm better making an
early decision. Brand-new one or another one in the bag with you?
Yes, brand-new one. I should have probably had an old one bedded in
but I didn't so my friend put a brand-new one on and I've been
playing a few hours with that tonight trying to get used to it.
How long do you normally take to bed in a new tip? Normally not too bad.
I'm not one of them after a few shots I take it off and put another
on, I try and grin and bear it and play through it. A lot of the time
with the new tip, it's when you are playing shots with slide. What we
are playing on tomorrow, for instance, the throw-off is going to
be different. So that is something I'll have to get used to. I'm more
confident now in the tip than I was before. I was going to ask if this
will help your confidence, rather than worrying about what it was
before? At least now I know I can have the confidence playing with the
shots. It's not an excuse why I'm 5-3 down, it's just a problem with
the tip. Similar circumstances with the tip last time. Fingers crossed
it will work again. We'll see in the morning. Thank you very much. Thank
you. We are going to take you to the second semi-final which began this
evening between John Higgins, the four-time champion and Barry Hawkins
who's made a habit of reaching this final four in the last five years or
so. If you were watching earlier on BBC Two, you will know that John
Higgins took a 2-0 lead. It went 3-0 and, for all the world it looked
like John was going to go in at the mid session interval four up.
You don't start thinking about a century break until you have made
enough to win the frame and he's not too far away from doing that. Just
this red. Oh, missed it. Can you believe that. That was frame ball.
All of a sudden, you miss an easy ball. He hasn't done that for ageing
and that was a lapse in concentration there -- for ages.
Still favourite for this frame but he should have been on his way to
the dressing room now. Barry is looking at a plant here, rather than
the one red that's loose. If he does get the plant, which it looks on,
the one just below the pink, this will give him a chance to pinch this
frame. 69 points behind. When you haven't made a break above
20 in the opening three frames, to suggest you can try to clear up is
hard to do. He knows now this would hurt John Higgins if he can do just
that. Mind, we had a few oohs and Ahs from the crowd there, he wobbled
that black there. And the fact that he didn't pot the
black cleanly into the pocket has left him slightly hampered here.
Good recovery. That was something John Parrot mentioned in the studio.
Every time he gets in, he seems awkward. Still is now. Awkward on
the black. I think the pink will pot. The one the bottom of the three
does but still he can't get on the ball properly at the minute. Could
work to his advantage because the red next to the pink is tied up.
This, as long as he judges the cannon correctly, will free the pink
and the red. He's got the pink but he's just
running away. I think he can avoid the yellow, you know, and get back
up to the reds. Another key shot coming up here. Playing ball will
take him past the yellow when he pots this pink. This is the best of
33 frames, but this could be a big miniturning point in this
semi-final. John will be sitting there kicking
himself thinking it was such an easy red for frame ball. Didn't have to
get so close to the black, just make sure you pot the red. Now the work
starts as far as Barry Hawkins is concerned. As Denis mentioned, being
a left-hander is not too bad. He's got to get on that last red
perfectly. Now, has it got the angle to get
over and put the other white up? He'd love to get somewhere there
being a left-hander. I think he can do that.
If not the pink, certainly for the blue, it would be easier to get to
the Iolo from the blue. -- yellow from the blue.
What a frame this would be, to pinch.
Yes, especially as he couldn't pot a ball in the opening three frames. A
high break of only 20 before this frame. Can he pot this six remaining
colours to pinch the frame? Not often you make a 69 break and
lose a frame. That could happen here, how has he
finished on the brown? Oh, it is awkward if he screws back, the white
is going towards the middle pocket. It couldn't have finished any
awkwarder there, just be careful of that middle pocket.
So he stunned it in, which means he has got to go up and down the table.
Well he is good with the rest, he will have to be here. What a roar
from the crowd if he can pot these two colours.
Such is the tension on the blue, you can see how he mis-hit that, he
wanted to be two feet further left so he didn't need the rest, he will
have to swing this round. Yes, that wasn't a bad shot, it was
the bad shot on the blue. John Higgins will by a mazed he is coming
back to the table with a chance to be 4-0 in front. What a strange
frame this has been Dennis. After missing the red 245 John missed, the
pink is not a gimme, a bit of pressure on this.
John Higgins. He trails by four frames to nil.
HAZEL IRVINE: It has been six years since John Higgins last finished in
a Crucible semifinal and that score line marks a perfect return for him
so far, Barry's highest break had only been 20, so could the Hawk find
his feet after their interval? The English man owns a small lead going
into frame five. He hasn't got a good cue ball.
Not only has he not got a good cue ball, he pushed that red near the
pocket. Black only available into one corner
pocket. And he has played this beautifully.
Very nicely controlled. Just got that white running loose a
little bit at the minute. This time he is perfect on the blue,
so Barry Hawkins should definitely win this frame from in position, he
is 17 points in front. The three reds in open play will be more than
enough to get frame on the board. It looks as if the mid-session
interval is going to change things round because it came at the right
time, because Barry should have pinched the fourth frame but he has
plenty of time to forget about that. John was in first, but split the
reds and didn't quite work out when he was on 30.
He said Barry could do with the four frames left, he will be looking for
three now he has won this one, of this little mini-session.
Not bothered about playing for the black. He will be absolutely
delighted he has got his first frame on the board but he still has a
little way to go in this opening session. He still trailed John
Higgins by four frames to one. HAZEL IRVINE: Hauss kips on the way. --
Hawkin, the necks two frames were shared so 5-2 to Higgins as he
rejoin the final frame of their evening. Higgins in the balls on a
break of 24. He has to make sure he gets tops out
of blue, he doesn't want to go into baulk to play position. He has
played for the pin. I think the pink spot appears to be
covered so he will lose the pink for a moment on to the green spot.
Maybe that little flick on the red there made the pink available.
Gone a little bit too far here. It is is a deft little touch to
knock that red in but should have held better for the blue.
Key shot coming up. He is going to use the reds as a stopper here for
the white. And that is a little awkward. He is
stuck on that red, he has a tricky one to the middle pocket. He is
bridges over that red. -- bridging over that red. He played
it well. It just stuck on that one red.
Not in ideal position just yet. If he takes the blue up into the
corner, it's the better shot for position, and that's his choice.
No, nowhere near. You could tell he didn't really want to play that. You
just sensed he didn't want to be taking that shot on.
Still he has left a chance to get the black free into corners so this
39 point lead shoulder sap rate very quickly from this position.
-- shoulder sap rate. He will probably need the yellow but he
would love to get right back into the frame at this visit.
If Barry Hawkins can take this frame, he will sleep pretty well
tonight, being 4-0 down, OK he got a chance when he won two in a row, he
has had a let off and he is going to make John Higgins pay.
5-3 down after being 4-0 down wouldn't be a bad result.
John has to hope that Barry can slip up. He knows he should have opened
up a four frame lead. You can clearly see he has four
easier reds, afrn the one near the middle pocket is going to be the key
ball in this last frame of this session.
He would like to pot the two reds either side of the pink and near the
red fear his hand to last, he will play the red now. He could have left
a half ball red and moved that red off the cushion. As Dennis said,
that is going to be the key ball. He is right back in to the frame
now. What kind of lead he has before he has to play the last red.
He mentioned the red near the middle pocket but the yellow is also going
to play a big part in it. Almost tight on the side cushion. If he can
get on the pink half ball here, he will move that red now, with him
being left handed, makes the other red OK, so he will be playing the
cannon on that red, so frame-winner if he gets it right, or you would
think he would have every chance of winning the frame. That is OK.
He has a nice angle on this red to bring the yellow into play.
He would be unlucky to knock the yellow in the pocket. He will have
to play it quite firm, to kiss it quite hard. He doesn't want the
white to finish on the cushion. That is very clever. OK the yellow
is in a lot better place. Although it is on the cushion, it's a lot
better position than it was before. He has to get himself up reasonably
close to this last red. And that looks just about perfect. OK, he
will have to use the rest, but if it's straight, you would screw back
to where the white is now, if he gets on the pink in that position,
he can get up to the difficult yellow.
That he did move from one cushion to another.
Well, he is screwing up and that is not a bad thing either.
Much easier to get to the yellow from the green, but can he stretch
over? And reach that? He, obviously yellow is going to be tricky on the
top cushion, he has to play to get on it and leave an angle on the
yellow to get to the green. Needs a bounce.
That might He needs the yellow, green and
brown. To pinch this frame. You don't want to have to be hitting
it too hard. This the biggest shot of the match
tonight for Barry Hawkins. We have talked about it, if gets out
5-3 he will feel delighted. A glance at the score board, he only
needs the brown. It is a great frame. Makes things
very interesting, ready for tomorrow.
It has been a strange session, it really has.
John Higgins did all the scoring in the opening four frames. Barry
Hawkins mostly scoring in the next four frames.
John Higgins will be taking a two frame lead overnight.
HAZEL IRVINE: And they will be back for their second session after a
good night sleep's at 2.30 in tomorrow afternoon's programme on
BBC Two. It's a big day in the other semifinal with two sessions to play,
morning and evening, and we will be ready to rock from 10.00 in the
morning for that. Ding Junhui returns against Mark Selby, who will
be back with a new tip on his cue, as he plays catch up for the first
time in the Championship. Jason is on patrol for that, in the morning.
But from me, and the evening team, thank you very much for your
company, and we will catch you again tomorrow.
Good night. You are not a fun person
to share a trishaw with.