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History Of The Shanghai Masters

We are just days away from the 14th running of snooker’s Shanghai Masters, as the professional circuit prepares to return to mainland China for the first time since the coronavirus pandemic.

The event has played host to surprise champions, as well as title match battles between all-time greats of the sport. We’ve decided to rewind to 2007 and take you through all of the Shanghai Masters finals from past to present…

2007 – Dominic Dale 10-6 Ryan Day

The Spaceman soared in Shanghai as he landed the second and most recent ranking title of his career. On the table Dominic Dale underlined his ability with a momentous week of snooker, beating the likes of Ken Doherty and Mark Selby on his way to the title match. Away from the baize he highlighted why he is one of the most colourful characters on tour, sporting peroxide blonde hair and treating the Chinese media to a rendition of Frank Sinatra’s My Way. The final saw Dale trail Ryan Day 6-2, before a superb sprint saw him claim eight frames in a row to secure the title by a 10-6 scoreline.

2008 – Ricky Walden 10-8 Ronnie O’Sullivan

One of the toughest draws imaginable stood between Ricky Walden and his first ever ranking title. However, the Chester cueman defeated Stephen Hendry, Neil Robertson, Steve Davis, Mark Selby and Ronnie O’Sullivan to capture silverware in Shanghai. Walden closed out the final in style, firing in a superb break of 105 in the 18th frame to secure the title. He has since added two further ranking event successes to take his title tally to three.

Walden said: “My personality has never been one to have amazing belief before I’ve ever done anything. I’ve always felt I had to achieve stuff before I could allow myself to be like that. I suppose I was just rolling with it in that event, I wasn’t overly confident before that, but once I achieved it I then knew I could win. The two tournament victories I have had since then are down to that day and getting the first one.”

2009 – Ronnie O’Sullivan 10-5 Liang Wenbo

Ronnie O’Sullivan made up for his defeat to Ricky Walden by claiming the title a year later. The Rocket dispatched the likes of Marco Fu and Ding Junhui on his way to the semi-finals, where he beat old adversary John Higgins 6-1. His opponent Liang Wenbo was competing in his first ranking final, but O’Sullivan was able to dominate the opening exchanges and lead 6-2 after the first session. The Englishman maintained his advantage in the evening and ran out a 10-5 victor. It was the 22nd of his 39 ranking event wins to date. “I was only able to play flamboyant snooker in two or three frames. The rest of it was steady, hard, match snooker and I needed patience,” said the Rocket.

2010 – Ali Carter 10-7 Jamie Burnett

Victory for Ali Carter saw him secure the second ranking title of his career. The Captain beat the likes of Stuart Bingham and Mark Selby to set up a dramatic quarter-final with Matthew Stevens. He clinched victory by depositing a daring black down the side cushion to win 5-4. Jamie Burnett was competing in his first ever ranking final and it showed in what proved to be a nervy encounter. Carter never led by more than two frames until he pulled clear at 8-7 to win 10-7.

“I just want to win as many titles as I can in my career,” said Carter. “If you keep getting to the business end of tournaments then you will have chances to win them and that’s what I’ve done. It wasn’t the best match, but those are the ones where winning is what matters.”

Since then the Essex cueman has added a further three ranking event wins to his resume, taking his total to five.

2011 – Mark Selby 10-9 Mark Williams

A thrilling final, perhaps best remembered for a controversial incident in the 17th frame, when Mark Williams led 9-7. The Welshman felt that Mark Selby had hit the pink when escaping from a snooker, but after studying a video replay, referee Eirian Williams judged that he had hit a red first, a decision which was later proved correct. Uncharacteristically Williams lost his cool and Selby pounced, taking the final two frames to run out a 10-9 victor. It was only the second of his 22 ranking event victories. The result also came alongside Selby becoming world number one for the first time in his career. Selby said:  “It’s a great feeling to be World number one, all I wanted to do was to get to the top of the sport. But I have to keep up the hard work because others will want to get ahead of me.”

2012 – John Higgins 10-9 Judd Trump
Another showpiece clash between two greats of the sport, which came down to a final frame decider. It hadn’t looked that way when Trump made a blistering start, which saw him establish a 5-0 advantage. Higgins responded with a magical 147 break, but still trailed 7-2 after the opening session. However, the tide shifted entirely when play got back underway, with Scotland’s Higgins storming to six consecutive frames and an 8-7 advantage. Trump recovered to 9-9 and had first chance in the decider but could only make 36, and had to sit in his chair as Higgins crashed in a do-or-die long red to initiate a match-winning 61. “To beat Judd from 7-2 down is unbelievable, I can’t explain how it feels because I’m shell-shocked,” said Higgins. “To beat Judd when he was playing that well must be one of my best wins ever.”

2013 –  Ding Junhui 10-6 Xiao Guodong.

A historic final lineup for the sport, highlighting the globalisation of snooker, with the first ever ranking final to be contested between two Chinese players. Ding Junhui took home the title to kickstart a remarkable run which saw him win three consecutive ranking events, adding further silverware at the Indian Open and International Championship. Xiao Guodong was playing in his first ever ranking final, but fell short and is still seeking a maiden professional win currently. “I had to let my emotions go after winning the tournament. This showed how much I wanted this title, I wanted it more than anybody,” said Ding. “There will be many more chances for the players from China. The young generation is growing up quickly so their days will come soon.”

2014 – Stuart Bingham 10-3 Mark Allen

Shanghai success for Stuart Bingham saw him secure the second ranking title of his career with an emphatic defeat of Mark Allen in the final. He scored a narrow 6-4 win over home hero Ding Junhui in the semi-finals, before mounting a more one-sided defeat of Allen. Bingham said: “Knowing that you can win a title brings different pressures and I have knocked on the door a few times since. It’s very tough to win a tournament these days but after I beat Dominic Dale here in the second round, and played really well, I thought it could be my week.”

The Basildon potter, now aged 47, had to wait until his mid-to-late 30s to regularly find the winning knack. Following his victory in Shanghai he would go on to end the season by securing snooker’s ultimate glory, becoming World Champion at the Crucible.

2015 – Kyren Wilson 10-9 Judd Trump

After a rocky first spell on the tour, which lasted just one season in 10/11, Wilson went away and did what was required to make his game more adaptable to the top level of the sport. Having completely rebuilt his cue action, the Warrior returned a different player and it all fell into place out in Shanghai. Wilson defeated Ding Junhui and Mark Allen on his way to the final, where he held off a Judd Trump fightback to secure the first ranking title of his career. He admits that it wouldn’t have been possible without the changes he made to his technique.

“I’d have flopped under the pressure, 100%. My cue action was too long. It wouldn’t have worked under that sort of pressure. Rebuilding it was a tough thing to do at first, but it has done me good in the long run,” said the now 31-year-old Wilson.

2016 – Ding Junhui 10-6 Mark Selby

Ding Junhui came out on top to become the first player to win the Shanghai Masters more than once. On the tenth staging of the tournament in China, fittingly it was the home favourite who lifted the trophy as he gained a measure of revenge against Mark Selby, who defeated him in the World Championship final earlier that year.

“I felt so strong in the last frame. Mark was coming back at me and he is so strong in safety so he was trying to get snookers. He made every shot so difficult for me, I was just trying to hit the red, that’s it,” said Ding.

“This is a special tournament in Shanghai, it was been going since 2007 and I have learned a lot from it. I’m always very happy to win anywhere in China.”

2017 – Ronnie O’Sullivan 10-3 Judd Trump

The Rocket landed his 30th ranking event win by thumping Judd Trump in the Shanghai Masters final. It was his second ranking title within a month having won the English Open in October, and he also reached the final of the Champion of Champions where he lost to Shaun Murphy. Defeat for the Ace in the Pack meant he had now appeared in the final of the event three times and failed to register victory an any of them. O’Sullivan did the bulk of the damage in the first session by going 7-0 ahead, and he shared the next six frames to secure the trophy and £150,000 top prize. “I have had a fantastic last four weeks. I feel a bit tired but I don’t mind that if it means winning tournaments. I’ve got my titles in the bank and I can build on that,” said O’Sullivan.

2018 – Ronnie O’Sullivan 11-9 Barry Hawkins

The Shanghai Masters transitioned into one of the most prestigious invitational events on the World Snooker Tour calendar, but the new format yielded a familiar champion in Ronnie O’Sullivan. The final was a repeat of the 2013 World Championship title match, with the Rocket being pitted against Barry Hawkins. The afternoon session saw Hawkins seize the advantage, emerging with a 6-4 lead. However, O’Sullivan surged ahead when the evening play got underway. He took the first four of the session to turn the match on its head and move 8-6 up. They traded frames from there as the match came down to the wire. With O’Sullivan leading 10-9, he closed out the win in style with a break of 122. “It is a very major and prestigious tournament,” O’Sullivan said: “There are a few like that now though. You have the Champion of Champions, which is a great tournament. This and the Masters are great tournaments, just because every player in it is very, very good.”

2019 – Ronnie O’Sullivan 11-9 Shaun Murphy

Ronnie O’Sullivan secured his fourth Shanghai Masters crown and won the event for a third straight year. That means he heads into this year’s event unbeaten in his last 15 matches in the city. It was O’Sullivan’s first appearance of the 19/20 season, which was heavily interrupted by the coronavirus pandemic, but ended with him winning the World Championship at the Crucible. After the first session of the Shanghai showpiece saw O’Sullivan and Shaun Murphy locked together at 5-5, it was the Magician who took the first of the evening to move 6-5 up. O’Sullivan then made a charge for the finish line and moved 10-7 ahead. While Murphy kept the pressure on and pulled within a frame it was O’Sullivan who got over the line with a break of 86.

“I always just try to hang in there. It is a bit like Seve Ballesteros or Tiger Woods with how they play golf. They are never out of it because every now and then they can produce a little bit of magic. That is the hallmark of my game really,” said Shanghai Masters champion O’Sullivan.