Mark Williams, Ricky Walden, Michael White and Thepchaiya Un-Nooh all gun for the Indian Open title on Saturday in Mumbai.
The quartet emerged from their last 16 and quarter-final bouts on Friday to reach the final day’s action at the Grand Hyatt.
With £50,000 up for grabs for the winner, each of the four will be working very hard to try to win the last two short matches required to claim the title.
Aside from the prize money, for Williams it would represent a welcome return to the ranking event winners enclosure for the first time in four years – since his 18th title at the German Masters in 2011.
For Walden it would be a second victory of the season to underline his pedigree as one of the leading top eight players in the game, while White and Un-Nooh are bidding to become first-time ranking event winners.
Ben Woollaston came close to achieving that feat at the recent Welsh Open only to be denied by John Higgins but one feels there’s an even greater possibility of it happening on this occasion given the sprint format.
The semi-final remains best-of-seven frames – far too short for a ranking event carrying this much money – while the final is a paltry best-of-nine frames.
Because of this it’s even more difficult than it usually would be at this stage of a tournament to predict a winner.
Thailand’s Un-Nooh would appear to be the obvious outsider but has impressed in overcoming defending champion Ding Junhui, Luca Brecel, Jamie Jones and Mark Davis to reach this far.
The former world amateur champion takes on Walden, who will be seeking to add to the International Championship victory he notched up earlier in the campaign.
Walden’s experience will ensure he starts as favourite but a lot will depend on the outcome of the opening couple of frames.
In the other last four clash, the resurgent Williams takes on countryman White.
Both Welshmen tasted glory in Blackpool last week, first Williams in the World Seniors before White emerged from a pool of 64 players to win the single-frame Shoot-Out at the Tower Circus.
With narrow defeats in the semi-finals in Chengdu and Cardiff at the Welsh Open, Williams has been on the cusp of returning to the big-time for quite a few months.
His results, though, have all but guaranteed his place among the top 16 competitors who will automatically qualify for the Crucible in April – a relief I’m sure considering he missed out on Sheffield in 2014.
White, meanwhile, still has aspirations of breaking into that elite bracket before the World Championship cut-off himself.
The 23 year-old remains quite a long way behind but the top prize here, along with deep runs in the final two counting events at the Players Championship Grand Finals and the China Open, could see him avoid the horrid qualifying rounds at Ponds Forge.
First and foremost, White will be concentrating on achieving his maiden ranking event success, one that could spark many more for a player who has been tipped for greatness for the best part of a decade.
Either way, it promises to be an interesting conclusion to the Indian Open later today.
Categories: Snooker News