First, let’s clear some things up.
I haven’t been purposely slacking over the last week. As some of you may have seen via my tweets or Facebook updates I have been having some laptop problems over the course of the last week or so.
At first it seemed like it would be a rather simple repair job that would only take a couple of days but the faithful folk at Dublin’s Back From The Future store have assured me it will now cost three times the original price despite not even knowing what the problem is…
Yeah, no thanks, lads! So I am now in the process of purchasing a new laptop which will mean another spell lacking what I have now come to realise is essentially my pet.
With the amount of internet cafés that open late at a premium, I have had to forgo my regular daily reports – which couldn’t have really come at a worst time, could it?
The Masters has been in full swing so far this week at Alexandra Palace and there have already been five cracking matches completed in London.
Today almost saw the biggest shock so far – if indeed there really is such a thing as a “big” shock at this event with such a formidable line-up of Top 16 competitors – when Barry Hawkins came within a couple of balls of beating world no.2 Judd Trump.
Hawkins had apparently taken control of the encounter after trailing 3-2, confidently claiming three frames on the spin to go to within a frame of a memorable victory.
International Championship winner Trump responded with a century but was thanking his lucky stars in the penultimate frame when the ‘Hawk’ lost his eagle eye and he missed two gilt-edged opportunities to progress.
Trump played a lovely positional shot from blue to pink to force the decider, where he duly compiled another ton to complete the turnaround.
A rare expression of emotion from the 23 year-old showed how much the tournament means to him and indeed he admitted in his post-match interview that the Ally Pally is now his favourite venue to play in.
Two other clashes had already been decided by final frame thrillers with last night’s clash of the Tartans between Graeme Dott and Stephen Maguire ending dramatically in favour of the former world champion.
In Sunday’s opening contest, the last two champions went to head-to-head as Neil Robertson came from two down with three to play to edge China’s Ding Junhui 6-5 as well.
Robbo will play Mark Allen in the quarter-finals as the Northern Irishman won his first match on BBC since 2011 with a comprehensive 6-2 triumph over Mark Davis while one of the pre-tournament big favourites in John Higgins had far too much for Ali Carter – the Scot recording a 6-3 result.
There are three last 16 ties remaining, starting this evening with last year’s beaten finalist Shaun Murphy taking on friend and fellow Englishman Ricky Walden.
Tomorrow, two-time champion Mark Selby and arguably the game’s most improved player in Stuart Bingham do battle after the Welsh showdown between Mark Williams and Matthew Stevens.
Stevens had this to say ahead of the prestigious invitational event he emerged victorious in at the turn of the millennium.