Stephen Hendry beat Neil Robertson at the Welsh Open, his best result against a top 16 player for some time, but Hendry then fell cheaply to a 4-0 defeat to Mark Allen.

Such inconsistency has plagued him of late but I have been impressed by his attitude at the qualifiers.

Since dropping out of the top 16 last year Hendry has only once failed to qualify for a tournament (the German Masters).

The ultimate seen-it-all, done-it-all player, he could be forgiven for feeling thoroughly fed up in having to pitch up at the soulless qualifying environment after years in the big arenas.

In fact, Hendry has just got on with it and has got the results he has been looking for even if the performances haven't been vintage.

In this leap year it has been a leap into the unknown for Hendry but he has kept the faith. He still believes. This is half the battle in this game.

Robertson has lost early in his two events since winning the Masters and had a very poor record in China until he reached the Shanghai Masters semi-finals earlier this season. Frankly, though, he didn't do much wrong against an inspired Hendry in Newport.

The big shock yesterday was Ding Junhui's 5-1 defeat to Jin Long.

I wonder if Ding feels under more pressure when playing a fellow Chinese, as if he feels he is top dog and has to try harder to prove it.

Who knows? Snooker players are bedevilled by doubts and neuroses. This makes them no different to anyone else, the only difference being the rest of us don't have them so publically exposed.

Ding is the standard bearer of the Chinese snooker revolution but one day there will be a coup and he will be replaced.

Perhaps it will be by Lu Ning, the 18 year-old who beat Nigel Bond in the wildcard round and who now plays Mark Selby today.

What many people don't realise is the extent of the demands on Ding when he returns to China.

He is earning a good living as a snooker player and personal appearances, media interviews and dates for sponsors are all part of that...but his time is rarely his own in a way UK players don't have to deal with.

Finally some good news. Following my rant about scheduling on Sunday the China Open format reveals there will indeed be two first round matches played on the opening day in Beijing, the day traditionally set aside for wildcards.

I'm not saying I had anything to do with this but it is good news for the tournament: launching with top players and providing broadcasters with matches of interest.


Anonymous said...

it looks like your saying you had something to do with it, but you know what dave, i HOPE you did.

you (and many others who regulalry comment here) have the good of the game in mind and just sometimes its good to pay oneself on the back

so, if youre not willing to

well done!

kildare cueman said...

Funny about Ding playing the Chinese. I recall Ken Doherty used to struggle a bit against Irish players, and Im sure if we compared the Welsh and Scottish head to heads there would be more cases than usual of the lower ranked player winning.

We know that in football, when two clubs from the same area play, that reputation/status, counts for nothing. Its all on the day.
Perhaps Ding suffers from the "Derby syndrome"

Anonymous said...

Why is there no Brazilian masters this year?

kildare cueman said...

Dave. Theres two of you. Switched over to the billiards, which for some reason Eurosport showed at the same time as the snooker, and there you were again.

Anonymous said...

That change to the schedule was most likely the fourth thing Barry did that morning.

Anonymous said...

does anyone have a list of ranking events in asia that ronnie has failed to appear (medical reason or not)?

preferably with the "reason" included.


Anonymous said...

my problem with china events they virtually the same event played in different regions.

How About Best of 17s Semis or 2 Table Roll on Roll Off in some of them so they Look different.

Witz78 said...

Mark Allen is a total clown

if he doesnt like playing snooker he should find a different job.

All these extra tournaments on the calendar and he still cant win any.

It sickens me to hear players moaning about having to play and travel more. Selfish and ungrateful. Cant believe so many were happier in the Walker era of being part time pros.

Ruthie said...

This event needs something to make it sparkle soon... Certainly the tables seem to be playing very erratically, but there also seem to be banks of empty seats. The "lessons learned" session would make interesting reading I think. But I'm also disappointed to see Mark Allen venting his culture shock so badly on Twitter. Surely he knows that Twitter is a place for self-aggrandizing and posting pictures of your dinner?!