Walden Proves Battling Worth

So the first ranking event of the season has come and gone with Ricky Walden emerging victorious at the Wuxi Classic in China.

It gave Walden his second ranking event title, four years after his maiden glory which also came in the Far East country at the Shanghai Masters.

Walden has been a difficult player to predict over the years. At times he has produced scintillating snooker deserving of a place in the Top 16 of the world rankings.

But at other moments, the Englishman has been perplexingly underwhelming, particularly during his times in the qualifying rounds where inconsistency appeared to get the better of him.

Now, though, Walden has risen to a career high of 10 in the ranking list and at 29 years of age still has an awful lot of time left to make a considerable impact in the sport.

Known in the past for his superb attacking prowess, Walden actually only compiled a brace of centuries en route to the final and didn’t even accumulate an 80 break in his 10-4 triumph over Stuart Bingham.

While not flash, if anything this adds more worth to his success as he evidently did it with the battling skills he has not always shown in the past.

This will undoubtedly give him the confidence to believe that he can go on and compete with the very best on a regular basis, especially at the major championships where last season he reached the last four of the UKs.

That said, worth mentioning is the fact that Wuxi was the first ranking event of a new campaign, quickly following a very long and intense 2011/12.

Taking nothing away from the excellent performances of Walden, Bingham and the two other semi-finalists in Mark Davis and Marcus Campbell, but several of the top seeds were clearly not up to speed and it is unlikely that will continue for much longer.

Once the Trumps, Robertsons, Selbys and Dings – to mention only four of a possible ten or so – begin to bring their A-game to the table it will be interesting to see how the likes of Walden and Bingham can cope.

As for Bingham himself, Sunday’s final was a moot point in what has otherwise been a remarkable June for the man they call ‘Ballrun’.

After victories in the Pink Ribbon Pro Am in Gloucester and APTC1 in China, the Englishman went within a whisker of repeating his feat of last season by lifting the first ranking event trophy of the year.

However, his consolation wasn’t too bad after he banged in a 147 break, becoming only the third player to do so in a ranking event final – joining illustrious company in Scots Stephen Hendry and John Higgins.

An interesting opening to the new season then. Perhaps not the players expected in the business end of proceedings but another sign that there is strength in depth in the game.

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