n MORNING: No play
GRAEME Dott is hardly snooker’s most charismatic character, but to be fair to the likeable Glaswegian he’s never afraid to speak his mind. I’ve always respected him for that.
Last year’s runner-up has made no secret of his desire for there to be a day off before the Crucible final with players often burnt out for the sport’s biggest match after 15 days of graft.
Dott discovered that to his disappointment 12 months ago when he was so tired that he failed to produce his best against Neil Robertson, the eventual champion from Australia.
He also found himself playing well after midnight back in 2006 when, dead on his feet, he somehow overcame Peter Ebdon to win the famous Crucible crown.
Yesteday Dott produced another trademark workmanlike victory, this time beating Mark King 10-7 to deservedly progress of the last 16 stage.
And whether he’s happy to quietly remain under the radar in his search for a second world title - and his fourth final - Dott must be taken as a serious contender.
“I love playing here, I always have,” admitted Dott. “I can win it, but it’s fair to say John Higgins is the favourite just because of the way he’s playing. But if you take John out of the equation you’ve got Mark Williams who is playing fantastic and a lot of other players who are serious contenders, the tournament’s wide open.
“Even if Ronnie [O’Sullivan] played left-handed he’d be a threat, he’s that talented.
“The one thing Ronnie’s got in his favour is that he’s completely fresh. I’ve always said whoever does well here has not had that busier a season.
“He’s certainly the freshest player here, so if he finds his game and a bit of form he’ll take a bit of stopping.”
Earlier in the day qualifier Martin Gould pulled off a great escape to upset Marco Fu, this season’s Wembley Masters runner-up, and set up a last 16 showdown with rising star Judd Trump.
Fellow qualifiers Rory McLeod and Ricky Walden were involved in a war of attrition as they first round clash painstakingly dragged on for over seven hours.
But it was McLeod who kept his concentration to sent Walden, the former Shanghai Masters champion, packing with a 10-6 victory.
Breaks of 62 and 65 did the bulk of the damage, but Walden snapped after defeat: “It was like a dentists’ appointment, absolutely painful from start to finish. If everyone played like that we wouldn’t have a game.”
MORNING: No play
AFTERNOON (2.30pm): Mark Selby (Eng) v Jimmy Robertson (Eng) - to a finish; Mark Williams (Wal) v Jamie Cope (Eng) - maximum of eight frames.
EVENING (7pm): Judd Trump (Eng) v Martin Gould (Eng) - maximum of eight frames; John Higgins (Sco) v Stephen Lee (Eng) - to a finish.