The cream has not so much risen to the top as escaped from the Grand Stage as the Shanghai Masters prepares for what should be a terrific finale.

Four great players are left to contest the £75,000 first prize. Three of them are world champions and the other is a leading candidate for future Crucible success.

Mark Williams, no stranger to bizarre accidents, survived coming off a scooter to play Joe Perry and won their decider.

It is worth recording Perry's exemplary sportsmanship here. He potted a red in the decider but fouled, unseen to both referee and Williams. Perry immediately owned up. It is to snooker's credit that in our game this is the norm.

Williams has kind of ambled through the tournament as he ambles through life itself: apparently without a care in the world. But in all the events he has previously won he has stepped it up in the closing stages.

Williams has won 18 world ranking titles. Eight of these have been won outside the UK, including six in Asia and three in China. Some players rival Mr T for their antipathy for getting on planes but Williams is one of snooker's best travellers.

He faces Judd Trump in today's first semi-final after Trump finished off well with a century in the decider against Graeme Dott yesterday.

From 4-1 down, Dott played like a man possessed, going for everything and potting most. It was a great spectacle but he ultimately came up short, and Trump displayed great poise under pressure to take the match out in one visit.

Later, John Higgins will face Shaun Murphy, who is the only one of the four semi-finalists yet to win a ranking title in China.

Murphy would find it hard to gauge his game after yesterday's quarter-final because Stuart Bingham had a 24 carat gold shocker. It was one of those days to forget for Bingham and Murphy picked him off.

Higgins at times resembled a bloodhound so often was he sniffing, but a heavy cold did not unduly affect his performance in beating Ali Carter 5-3.

Higgins started superbly, making a century in the first frame. Carter potted his first ball in frame three and was ultimately left with too much to do.

So four of snooker's leading lights are left to battle it out for the title. This is a great line-up and the snooker will surely match the billing.


Anonymous said...

It must be the old Corinthian spirit in me but Joe Perry's honesty almost brings a tear to my eye. Magnificent.

Mat Wilson

Anonymous said...

This really is a good tournament.

I urge you to watch the final (Higgins v Trump) on Sunday if you can get the pictures

kildare cueman said...

Higgins was impressive. Himself and ROS are different gravy to todays players.

Anonymous said...

Great final, whoever wins will prove something for very different reasons.
In the case off Higgins, he hasn't looked the same player for over a year and Trump has given off vibes that he is too big for his boots if you follow twitter.
Someone has to win and the loser will still harbour doubts as to how things are going for him.
Didn't someone once say snooker is a frame of mind?
If they didn't they should have.

Anonymous said...

What a match between trump and williams!

Feels like the season has finally started now.

Gerard said...

Reaching a final, making a maximum and that frame Higgins stole to be 'just' 6-2 behind has proven he's still a major force (if people needed proof anyway). And now I see they're at 6-7! Great stuff from 2 players who still dominate, together with Ronnie and Robbo.

Anonymous said...

Brilliant Final

Makes the hours of watching worthwhile

Well done both