I’ve had the pleasure of commentating with Joe Johnson throughout much of this World Championship and he is better qualified than most to assess Ali Carter’s chances of causing an upset in the final.
Joe famously beat Steve Davis 18-12 to win the title in 1986. The official programme of this year’s tournament ranks it as the second biggest shock in Crucible history, behind only Davis’s humbling 10-1 defeat to Tony Knowles in the first round in 1982.
Most people seem to think Ronnie O’Sullivan will not only beat Carter but beat him soundly. World Snooker has been ringing ex-players in case O’Sullivan wins with a session to spare and an exhibition is needed on Monday night.
888sport.com has O’Sullivan as 1/8 favourite with Carter 5/1.
I agree that O’Sullivan is likely to win given his form during the championship but Joe has made a few good points to me that are worth sharing.
Firstly, O’Sullivan was highly motivated in the semi-finals because he was playing Stephen Hendry. There would have been no disgrace in losing to this great champion but the respect Ronnie has for him brought out his best snooker.
He’s beaten Carter all eight times they have played and, being such a heavy favourite, has a huge weight of expectation on his shoulders.
Carter, in a sense, has nothing to lose, just as Joe didn’t in 1986. He could enjoy the occasion while the pressure was on Davis.
However, Ali must not settle for just being in the final. He has to – and I'm sure he does – believe he can win.
O’Sullivan needs to go into the final with the same mindset he had against Hendry but this will be difficult because he knows everyone expects him to win.
Of course, Davis had the baggage of what happened against Dennis Taylor the previous year. O’Sullivan’s only real baggage is his notoriously fragile emotional state, but he appears to have been on a largely even keel throughout the tournament.
In short, I think both Joe and I expect O’Sullivan to win but not by as big a margin as many are predicting, and not with a session to spare.
As ever, though, we will only find out when the punditry stops and the action begins at 3pm.