The Masters review

Twenty-year old Chinese star Yan Bingtao came the second youngest player to win in The Masters after beating former two-time winner John Higgins, in what proved to be a gripping final. Bingtao, who beat world number two Neil Robertson earlier in the tournament, showed he is a player for the future by displaying admirable battling qualities.

In other matches, the 20-year old won on final frame deciders, the final all though not going to a final frame decider was still hard fought. Former four-time world champion Higgins, who many thought was ‘past it’, silenced some doubters here.

On another day, Higgins would have come out on top. The 45-year old veteran did lead 5-3 and 7-5, but Bingtao won five of the remaining six frames to clinch his maiden rankings event title. This win in Milton Keynes, (the makeshift home of The Masters, due to the Coronavirus) will add to the Riga Masters title Yan Bingtao won last season.

World number six Higgins showed the snooker world, he still has something to offer, that brilliant win against Ronnie O’Sullivan a tournament highlight, but this win for Yan Bingtao, the world number 11 shows that he is a force to be reckoned with.

World number one Judd Trump had to miss the tournament due to Covid concerns, but sitting at home, he will be in the knowledge that he has a new challenge to over take his supremacy at the top of the world game.

Yan did come close to winning a ranking event in 2017, only to beat edged out ny former world number one mark Williams 9-8 in the Northern Ireland Open. So this win, three years on will be all the more sweeter.

Sports and COVID-19

For the past year, it’s dominated our lives and it’s dominated the news headlines too. I am not referring to Brexit, which in amongst itself has been a constant topic on everyone’s lips, I am indeed talking about the Coronavirus (Covid19). What started in December 2019 it’s believed (hence the name) has been a topic and an issue that’s still just as prevalent as it was over 12 months ago.

The virus has affected all aspects of life. From work, to shopping, to getting  a haircut and sports athletes too.  Supermarkets were rationing, which in turn lead to a Royal Rumble in its own right. In England and the rest of the UK is in yet another lockdown, where barber shops are closed and a lot of shops- recognised shops from the high street are closed. Here, I want to talk about the Coronavirus from more of the sporting side of things.

As mentioned, sports stars/athletes have been affected by Covid19 with many of these sports stars we adore and idolise suffering from Covid. So sports has been carrying on, but not with some of the worlds best and most known athletes. Football matches have been cancelled and rearranged and sports like snooker are just competing in one arena.

This year’s snooker masters tournament, just like with the other snooker tournaments that have been in a bubble environment. Cricket has been the same too, but in this article I want to talk about sports and is sports setting a bad example during covid?

Well, yes sport is but at the same time, I feel sport is unfairly targeted. Problems in the world, such as racism .. it seems like sport is solely responsible to sort the problems of society on the whole. The other side of this topic is, there’s been moments like football players clearly breaching lockdown guidelines, but at the same time the nations Prime Minister has fallen foul of the rules too.

Now if our leader isn’t following the rules, then how can we single out sports stars? There has been incidents such as India’s cricketers being seen at a Melbourne restaurant. Or the fact the Milijovic and Mitrovic been seen together.

But the one case which really took the biscuit was Manchester United’s women taking a trip to Dubai. This has caused a knock on affect in this current time for the women’s game. Sport has been seen by many as being some form of antidote to those who have mental vulnerabilities during this lockdown.

Snooker Masters Review

Sean Murphy became the 10th player to complete the "triple crown" when he beat Australia's Neil Robertson to win the Snooker Masters.

Sean Murphy became the 10th player to complete the “triple crown” when he beat Australia’s Neil Robertson to win the Snooker Masters.

One Of the three prestigious snooker events, on the snooker calendar came to a close on Sunday 18th January. The Snooker Masters, a week long tournament started with Sean Murphy who beat the reigning World champion Mark Selby – and ended with Murphy defeating Neil Robertson by a massive 10 frames to 2.

The Masters tournament itself did produce a lot of high quality matches, with each game having a century in it bar one. There were also a few surprise results, such as Northern Ireland’s Mark Allen beating Scotland’s John Higgins who has won this tournament in the past. Wins for Sean Murphy and Marco Fu against Mark Selby and Stuart Bingham respectively deserve a mention.

In fact Marco Fu in his match against Bingham made a 147, which for once was the only one of the tournament. Great news for snooker fans and Ali Carter fans in particular. The Essex who returned to the sport after a cancer scare, returned to action to a standing ovation in the first round.

Carter in his first round match was quite simply brilliant and took apart an out of sorts Barry Hawkins 6-1. Ali Carter’s tournament would end though in the next round with a 6-1 defeat of his own to world number 1 Neil Robertson, there is no shame in that.

Practice partner and pre tournament favourite Ronnie O’Sullivan started his campaign with a solid 6-4 win over Ricky Walden. The Rocket however in the quarter final defeated Marco Fu with a 6-1 demolition. The Rocket was gaining momentum it seemed and was seen as the man to beat by many.

Sadly for O’Sullivan fans, their hero’s quest for yet another masters title was over as the 39 year old lost quite convincingly to world number 1 Neil Robertson in the semi finals, it finished 6-1 to the Australian. The Australian was into yet another Masters final after having a monopoly on this tournament in recent years.

If commentators and analysts thought this tournament was a forgone conclusion they were wrong. Sean Murphy a former world champion and Uk champion winner came the man who was looking to stop Neil Robertson in this one.

Stop him he did, Sean Murphy was solid throughout the week with out catching the headlines like Ronnie O’Sullivan or Neil Robertson were. The Rotherham man won the masters final at a canter, winning it by 10 frames to two. Ironic to think Sean Murphy was planning to quit the sport when he quite clearly has more to give to it.

Sean Murphy And Mark Selby Kick Off This Years Snooker Masters With A Classic

Mark Selby's disappointing form in front of the Tv cameras of late, continued with a narrow 6-5 defeat to Sean Murphy.

Mark Selby’s disappointing form in front of the Tv cameras of late, continued with a narrow 6-5 defeat to Sean Murphy.

The first match of this years Maters tournament couldn’t have been more exciting as Sean Murphy and Mark Selby endured an epic battle in a match went all the distance and into a final frame which Sean Murphy won.

These two men have played each other many times before, in fact the two English men have played a record 34 times against each other. Sean Murphy came into this tournament rejuvenated, after looking ‘disinterested’ in last years semi-final of the masters. The man from Rotherham and a former winner of The Masters has won four titles, along with racking up three 147 breaks along the way this season .

As for his opponent Mark Selby has been in disappointing form of late, the 31 year old who did win the World Championship by beating Ronnie O’Sullivan was beaten in the Uk Championship first round, losing to David Morris. Selby was hoping for a better run in the tournament here.

With pleasantries out of the way the match duly got underway and it was Mark Selby who drew first blood, ‘The Jester From Leicester’ was quicker out of the blocks – and a century break from Selby after a poor break off from Murphy, allowed the former world number one to take the first frame.

Murphy obviously rattled, needed to get himself into this match especially with the quality Mark Selby posses, Selby is the defending World Champion after all. Sean Murphy, a former World champion himself drew level, all be it with a scrappy frame which lasted some 40 minutes – but I am sure the man who is from Rotherham wouldn’t care about that.

From that point on Murphy took control and reeled four frames off to move with in one of victory, with out compiling a truly big break. The break of 92 in frame four turned out to be the highest of the match for Sean Murphy.

Just when Sean Murphy thought he had done enough to win this game – and book his place in the quarter finals, World Champion Selby came roaring back winning four frames on the bounce as well. Sean Murphy was suffering from what most players suffer from when they are in a position of real dominance and with victory within ‘touching distance ‘ – and that’s crossing the winning line.

Breaks of 120 and 91 with in that four frame winning sequence, brought the 31 year old Selby right back into the match. From being 5-1 down – and seeming down and out, the match was all square at 5-5 with all to play for.

The final frame was understandably tight and tense, due to what was at stake ( a quarter final place at The Masters). It would be eventually Sean Murphy who would come out on top on this one, Murphy managed to hold on despite an onslaught from Mark Selby. Sean Murphy will no doubt be a relieved man.

As for Selby the 31 year old will be left to rue some missed pots, which snooker fans are used to seeing put in the pocket as the man from Leicester disappointingly exited again in the first round of the tournament. For Sean Murphy though however, he will be hoping to go far in this tournament.