RESULTS - PHOTOS FROM TOP147.COM
2002 world champion and eight-time ranking event winner Peter Ebdon has had a torrid time in recent years, with his last big win coming many years ago in the 2009 China Open and to top it off he dropped out of the top 16 last season.
After failing to qualify multiple times for televised stages of tournaments this season and coming close to dropping out the top 32, everyone had started to write off the London-born pro but he proved his critics wrong today, beating the resurgent Stephen Maguire 10-9 in the final of the Bank of Beijing China Open.
He didn't have the easiest route to the final having to beat two fellow world champions in Neil Robertson and John Higgins and two other in-form players Matthew Stevens and home favourite Ding Junhui in the semi-finals. But he showed his class to come through a long fought final which eventually finished at 1AM Beijing time.
Ebdon Photos - Top147.com
After battling hard to come out on top at the end of the first session 5-1, it looked as if Ebdon would win the match with relative ease as former UK and China Open champion Maguire fought back to level the match 8-8 in the evening Session.
Even though it was a long final typical to Ebdon's more methodical style, he managed to score heavily when needed making four century breaks of 107, 124, 103 and lastly another 103, the 300th century of his 21 year career to go 9-8.
Maguire nicked the scrappy 18th frame to force the decider at 9-9. Both players had multiple chances but after missing a tricky red along the bottom cushion with the rest the Scot let Ebdon in to clear up to the pink to win frame and match 10-9.
After having came runner up to Higgins last year in the Welsh Open and more recently to Ronnie O'Sullivan in the German Masters, Maguire will undoubtedly be disappointed to miss out on the chance to pick up his first major trophy since winning the China Open in 2008 but it shows he is firmly back in the games top 8 and it bodes well for him for the world championship in a few weeks.
All credit to Ebdon this week though, having beaten many top opponents this week and performing strongly in the final it shows that one should never truly right off great champions and he will no doubt be trying his hardest to qualify for the Crucible next weekend. He also has taken a great step towards getting back into the top 16 as he sits provisionally in the rankings at 20th.
Another bonus for him is that he will be guaranteed a spot in the Sky Sports Premier League next season.Ebdon has been seen to play decently when he does play faster so I have no doubt he will give it his best go and could pull off a few shocks in the shot clock tournament.
Here are some post-match quotes from World Snooker;
Ebdon said: "I'm delighted to win. To be perfectly honest, I feel a little bit embarrassed because I didn't handle the pressure very well today, and I feel that Stephen played better than I did, and I feel that he deserved to win. I'm delighted to win, but disappointed with my performance and that I didn't handle things better tonight.
"I was really pleased with the first session, because I felt like I played solid snooker, I felt really good and I scored well. It feels weird because I had four centuries in that match, and yet I don't feel like I handled it at all. There's a part of me that feels very sorry for Stephen, because he made a tremendous comeback, and he was very strong, and he put me under a lot of pressure. Fortunately, I potted a really good red at the end, and managed to crawl my way back into it. I missed too many balls today, and gave him too many chances.
"I was feeling pretty tired at the end. I felt deflated because I knew I didn't handle myself very well out there. I'm not used to having leads like that. Obviously it's been a long time since I've been in a final, maybe it's to be expected. But I've been playing really well this week. My focus and concentration was good. My preparation has been really, really good. I just expected more coming into the final session this evening. But I'm absolutely delighted that I've won this fantastic tournament again. It's only my ninth professional ranking event win in 20 years as a professional.
"I'd love to get to the World Championship - I'm not in the top 16 anymore so I've got to play a qualifying match. So that'll be tough, but my preparation this season is coming along nicely. I'm just one of a handful of players that seem to be coming into form at the right time. It's fantastic to win the tournament, and I tried so, so hard while I was here. I'd love to win my qualifying match and get back to the Crucible. I think it would be my 21st consecutive appearance in Sheffield. That's something to be very proud of, if I can do it."
Maguire, gracious in defeat, said: "If I'd lost 10-1 or 10-2, it would have meant I wasn't even part of the match. I just tried hard tonight to make a match of it, to make sure Peter won it, not gift him the title. Which eventually I did. I can take a lot of fighting qualities out of it.
"At 8-8, I let him in first, and he missed an easy red, and he could have left me a chance. I was on a bit of a roll then, and had made a few breaks to go 8-8. And if I had got in, I would have scored, and scored heavy. But he didn't leave anything on, and then he made a good break to go 9-8 up. That settled him a little bit, but I did fancy it at 8-8.
"It's good that I've beaten three of four of the best players. It's obviously disappointing right now, but tomorrow when I look back at it, it's another final. I've lost my last three or four finals now and it's nipping at me a little bit, especially that one there. The way things are going, I'll get to the Crucible, get to the final, and get beat!
"Peter outplayed me, totally, in the first session. There was absolutely nothing I could do, and I seemed to be sitting in my seat for long periods of time. And when I did get a chance to come back, I was just so cold, I had no table time, the game felt really difficult. That was all just about Peter dominating the game, so fair play to Peter. I mean, if he's dominating the table, there's nothing I can do about that."
Peter Ebdon - China Open Champion 2012