The inaugural International Championship is down to its last four players as an enthralling semi-final draw gets under way tomorrow in Chengdu.
Unlike most ranking event semi-finals that are played out over a best of 11 match, and in contrast to what is becoming increasingly normal to shorten formats, the tournament in China is going retro with best of 17 matches in the last four – a heralded moment for snooker snobs the world over.
And with the line-up we could be in for a couple of treats just after the trickery of Halloween as first, Judd Trump accepts the challenge of Peter Ebdon before the battle of ex-world champs Neil Robertson and Shaun Murphy takes place on Saturday.
Earlier today, Trump overcame Mark Allen 6-5 in a titanic tussle that boasted an impressive nine breaks over 60 and further cemented the budding rivalry that the pair are in the process of building.
Ebdon had things more his own way as he whitewashed Ricky Walden 6-0 to continue his resurgence in form over the last six or so months.
Tomorrow’s clash between Trump and Ebdon is not only a clash in eras but also a clash of styles – and a major one at that.
While Ebdon prefers the more pedantic, patient, some would say laborious approach, his younger opponent is more of the entertainment mindset.
It will be interesting to see how the match will play out because while Trump will start as the favourite, Ebdon’s slow tactics may frustrate him.
Motivation shouldn’t be a factor for the 23 year-old, though, as a win over the China Open champion will ensure he becomes only the tenth person to become world number one in the sport.
At such a young age, it could be a spot that Trump grows particularly accustomed to for the majority of his career.
The Bristol basher will be equally motivated to banish the memories of the recent Shanghai Masters final when he threw away a 7-2 lead against John Higgins to lose in a nail-biting decider.
Either way, it promises to be a cracker and so too does the second semi-final the following day between two of the game’s most consistent performers.
My tip at the start of the week was Murphy and the Englishman has certainly not disappointed – coming from 3-1 down to oust Marco Fu 6-3 in confident fashion.
Murphy has steadily plodded along over the last few years, picking up the odd trophy here and there but he would testify to the fact that he simply doesn’t get his name of enough trophies.
Robertson, who ended 14 year-old Lu Haotian’s memorable run on home soil, doesn’t have that problem and is in fact known for an unbelievable success rate when he manages to reach a final (12-1).
The pair met in the Masters final at the start of the year and the Australian enjoyed much the better time, emerging victorious as a 10-6 champion, so Murphy will be keen to reverse the score this time and continue his quest for the £125,000 top prize.
The full draw can be viewed by clicking here.
Categories: Snooker News