Assistant Editor in BBC TV Sport
12 Jan 08, 11:36 AM
Playing against the unpredictable genius that is Ronnie O'Sullivan is one of the toughest challenges in snooker. Turns out that covering him for television can be pretty challenging too.
'With most matches you can usually predict what's going to happen and plan your programme accordingly', said Graham Fry, who heads up our snooker coverage with TWI.
'But with Ronnie, you have to have a Plan A, a Plan B and a Plan C'.
The last 13 months highlight the point. Having controversially conceded the 2006 UK Championship quarter-final to Stephen Hendry, Ronnie then won the Masters title in another memorable final against Ding Junhui, a title he begins his defence of this Sunday (note of webmaster - ….and where he lost immediately in first round in exciting frame decider).
Ronnie's 2007 also included a fourth consecutive Premier League title, five century breaks, including a 147, in five winning frames while taking on Ali Carter in the Northern Ireland Trophy, before another eventful climax to the UK Championship in December - although even that came with the odd scare for our production team.
It was in the early stages of his semi-final with Mark Selby that Ronnie nipped out for what appeared to be a standard comfort break. We waited for his return, and waited…
'It was seven minutes before he came back' said Graham, who was helping produce the show that day. 'With most players, you think 'he's not well', but with Ronnie, you're never sure what's going to happen next'.
What did happen next was that the match went to a final frame decider, which Ronnie proceeded to take with another maximum - his eighth in competition - before cruising to the title with a 10-2 victory over Stephen Maguire the next day (note of webmaster – who was the player who beat Ronnie in the first round of the Masters 2008).
'That's the genius of Ronnie,' added Graham. 'With some 147 breaks, you look back and wonder how it happened. The one in that semi was one of those where he got to 32 and we all said 'this is on'.'
Maguire has an early chance of revenge when he takes on Ronnie this Sunday as part of our opening day's coverage, which also includes Shaun Murphy take on Allister Carter and Ryan Day against Barry Hawkins.
As the old maxim goes, 'expect the unexpected'. (note of webmaster – for example defeat of Ronnie :-) )
13 Jan 2008 19:34:00
Ronnie O'Sullivan, usually ice cool under pressure, faltered at the finish line in a dramatic match against Stephen Maguire at the SAGA Insurance Masters.
In a superb match between the top two players in the provisional rankings, defending champion O'Sullivan fought back bravely from 4-1 and 5-3 down, and from 51-0 behind in the deciding frame.
The Rocket looked certain to clear the table but missed a simple final blue to a top corner with the rest at 47-51. Maguire slotted in the blue and added the pink to progress to the quarter-finals at Wembley Arena.
The Scot gained some measure of revenge for his 10-2 defeat to O'Sullivan in last month's Maplin UK Championship final, as well as a 6-4 reverse against the same player in the semi-finals at Wembley last year.
Maguire took a scrappy first frame on the colours then O'Sullivan came from 47-0 down to take the second with a swift 68. The Scot then took control with 103 and 84 for 3-1, then snatched the fifth after O'Sullivan had missed the final yellow along a baulk cushion at 50-44.
Back came 32-year-old O'Sullivan with 112 and 72 for 4-3 but he failed to take advantage of two scoring chances in the next as Maguire went two up with three to play.
Runs of 66 and 64 got O'Sullivan back to 5-5. Maguire took control of the decider with a 49, then seemed to have lost his chance as O'Sullivan potted an excellent long red to set up his opportunity...but the Chigwell champ's legions of fans went home disappointed.
"I was a 100 per cent sure he was going to clear up," said Glasgow's 26-year-old Maguire, who will now face Stephen Hendry or Mark Selby.
"I didn't even see him miss the blue, it was just the crowd I heard. Then I just had to pot the blue.
"I don't see that as revenge, I'd have to beat him ten times on the spin to get revenge. I love playing him, he's the best in the world.
"I'm just getting over a bit of a cold so I was feeling a bit weak out there. I've got three or four days and hopefully if things pick up in the quarter-finals I know I can win it.
"It's the only tournament this season I've not fully prepared for, it's hard to practise over Christmas and New Year."
O'Sullivan, who had appeared in the last four Wembley finals, said: "I had my chance I didn't take it, so I can’t complain. There are a lot of 'ifs' in snooker and you can talk about them all day, but I’m out.
"I have to put this result behind me. You try to be inspired every time you play, if you can't inspire yourself you are not going to get very far."
11 Jan 2008 10:25:00
Ronnie O'Sullivan is hoping to reach a fifth consecutive Wembley final as he looks forward to the SAGA Insurance Masters.
The Rocket now aims to become the only player other than Stephen Hendry to reach five successive SAGA Insurance Masters finals. He has won two of the last four – beating John Higgins 10-3 in 2005 and Ding Junhui last year by the same scoreline. In 2004 he was edged out 10-9 by Paul Hunter and in 2006 he went down 10-9 to Higgins in another deciding-frame thriller.
"I love the Masters and I’m proud of my record over the last four years," said Chigwell’s 32-year-old O’Sullivan. "Even the two finals I lost, I don’t mind looking back on them because they were both great matches.
"It’s one of the top tournaments of the season for me and I’d love to make another final. The fans at Wembley are fantastic, I really appreciate the support I get and I hope I can put in some good performances for them."
O’Sullivan and Maguire stand No 1 and No 2 in the provisional world rankings and the Essex player believes that his emphatic victory in the UK final will not dent the Scot’s confidence. "Stephen will take a lot from that match and come back stronger," O’Sullivan added.
Peter Tudor, Wembley Arena’s General Manager, said: "We’re delighted to welcome the SAGA Insurance Masters back to Wembley Arena, and we’re looking forward to some classic confrontations after the nail biting climax to the 2007 tournament."
Shaun Murphy faces Ali Carter at 11am in the opening match on Sunday, with Ryan Day taking on wild card Barry Hawkins at 7pm.
All of snooker’s top stars will be competing for the title, including Stephen Hendry, Steve Davis and 888.com World Champion John Higgins. To book tickets call 0870 060 0870 or visit www.livenation.co.uk/wembley
17 Dec 2007 16:49:00
Ken Doherty and Shaun Murphy will officially launch the 2008 SAGA Insurance Masters on Tuesday.
The two former World Champions will release 100 Saga-branded balloons in Canary Wharf, London, at 11.30am.
Three of the balloons will have a special pre-paid postcard attached - if you are lucky to find one of those, send it to Saga and you will receive a pair of tickets to the final at Wembley Arena on Sunday, Janaury 20.
As well as Doherty and Murphy, defending champion Ronnie O'Sullivan, John Higgins, Stephen Hendry and Steve Davis will be among the snooker stars taking part in the SAGA Insurance Masters, which runs from January 13-20.
To book tickets call 0870 060 0870 or visit www.ticketmaster.co.uk
04 Sep 2007
Below is the format for the SAGA Insurance Masters at Wembley Arena which runs from January 13-20.
Cross reference match numbers to those on the drawsheet
Sunday 13 January 2008
11.00 am 6 - Shaun Murphy x Ali Carter (Ian Verhaas) - 6-3
2.30 pm 3 Not before time shown - Ronnie O'Sullivan x Stephen Maguire (Eirian Williams) - 5-6 :-((
7.00 pm 1 Not before time shown - Ryan Day x Barry Hawkins (Michaela Tabb) - 6-2
Monday 14 January 2008
11.00 am 2 - Steve Davis x Marco Fu (Eirian Williams) - 2-6
2.30 pm 4 Not before time shown - Stephen Hendry x Mark Selby (Jan Verhaas) - 5-6
7.00 pm 8 Not before time shown - Peter Ebdon x Ryan Day (Michaela Tabb) - 6-2
Tuesday 15 January 2008
1.30 pm 5 - Ken Doherty x Mark Williams (Eirian Williams) - 6-2
7.00 pm 9 - Neil Robertson x Marco Fu (Michaela Tabb) - 5-6
Wednesday 16 January 2008
1.30 pm * 10 - John Higgins x Ding Junhui (Jan Verhaas) - 4-6
7.00 pm 7 - Graeme Dott x Stephen Lee (Eirian Williams) - 5-6
Thursday 17 January 2008
1.00 pm QF1 - Stephen Maguire x Mark Selby (Michaela Tabb) - 5-6
7.00 pm QF2 - Ken Doherty x Shaun Murphy (Jan Verhaas) - 6-5
Friday 18 January 2008
1.30 pm QF3 - Stephen Lee x Peter Ebdon (Eirian Williams) - 6-1
7.00 pm QF4 - Marco Fu x Ding Junhui (Michaela Tabb) - 6-3
Saturday 19 January 2008
2,00 pm SF1 - Mark Selby x Ken Doherty (Eirian Williams) - 6-5
7.00 pm SF2 - Stephen Lee x Marco Fu (Jan Verhaas) - 6-2
Sunday 20 January 2008
2.00 pm Final (8 frames) Mark Selby x Stephen Lee (Michaela Tabb)
8.00 pm Final (possible 11 frames) - 10-3
*Start time may change to 2.00 pm - to be confirmed
All matches up to and including the Semi-Finals will be best of 11, the Final will be the best of 19 frames.