SNOOKER - The Crucible.jpg

SNOOKER – The Crucible

THE OLD stagers; Davis, White, Hendry et al, turned out once more in Sheffield for the sport’s World Championships, but stood little chance of reliving days gone by, with one notable exception: 1985 world champion Peter Ebdon, who won this title in 2002.

Shorn of his trademark ponytail, the veteran was recently starring away from the green baize on the BBC’s Strictly Come Dancing, provoking some irritating guffaws amongst the audience, which enjoyed a spate of humorous comments from pundits via innovative earphones while watching the play. But his opponents did not see the funny side, as Ebdon reached the quarter-finals with a crushing 13-2 win over David Gray, to set up a return match with Shaun Murphy, who beat him 17-12 here last year on his way to the title. This time, Ebdon raced into a 7-1 overnight lead, before sealing a 13-7 victory over the 23-year-old holder. Next up was Marco Fu, who became only the second Asian player to reach the semi-final stage after James Wattana, with a 13-10 defeat of Ken Doherty. The Hong Kong Chinese started badly, trailing 15-9, but then came storming back to take the match to 16 frames all, in an extraordinary encounter. Ebdon however, showed guts and nerve to scrape into the final, in a final-frame thriller, tears of emotion streaming down his cheeks.

Waiting there was not world number one Ronnie O’Sullivan as widely expected, but number 13, Graeme Dott. The 28-year-old Scott overcame ‘The Rocket’ in their semi-final, inflicting only the third session whitewash of the Irishman’s Crucible career. O’Sullivan looked totally out-of-sorts as he crashed out 16-8, having commenced the second session level at 8-8. Dott continued his hot streak in Sunday’s first session of the final, taking an 11-5 lead into Monday afternoon’s decider and finally secured the Crucible crown in the early hours of Tuesday morning. Dott could not hide his joy after winning his first ranking event, the World Championship, following an 18-14 victory over Peter Ebdon.