Peter Ebdon won the eighth ranking tournament of his career with a 10-8 defeat of John Higgins in an exciting final at the Bank of Beijing 2009 World Snooker China Open.
The 38-year-old collected the trophy and a cheque for £52,000 at the Beijing Students University Stadium after winning a ranking tournament in China for the first time in his 18 years as a professional – and his first title since the 2006 Maplin UK Championship.
It was a gripping final with a succession of frames going down to the last few balls. In the end, Ebdon was calmness personified as he compiled a superb break of 71 to win the last frame in one visit.
It’s a remarkable turnaround for the 2002 World Champion as he came into this tournament having won just two matches in the season’s six previous ranking events. Even his place among the top 16, which he has held for 15 consecutive seasons, was in jeopardy as he stood 17th on the provisional list. He now jumps up to 12th and his elite status looks to be secure.
Wellingborough-based Ebdon has often spoken of building his season around the World Championship to ensure his game peaks for snooker’s most important tournament – this year he may have got his timing just right. One of the toughest match-players and most determined characters the sport has ever seen, any question as to whether his days as a potential tournament winner are behind him has been emphatically answered.
Higgins, who may have felt destined for the title from the moment he turned a 4-0 first round deficit against Anthony Hamilton into a 5-4 victory, suffered a few strokes of misfortune over the match and will reflect that the scoreline could have been reversed if he had nicked two more of the tight frames. He misses out on his 20th ranking title – and first in Beijing – but must be satisfied with his form going into the Crucible, and has earned more ranking points than any other player this season.
Leading 5-4 after the first session, Ebdon won the opening frame tonight with breaks of 52 and 57 then Higgins replied with a 62 to take the next.
In frame 12, Ebdon needed a snooker on the blue and trapped his opponent behind the pink, with the object ball close to a baulk corner. Higgins missed the blue and went in-off, but Ebdon’s position from blue to pink lacked precision and he missed his attempt to a centre pocket. Higgins slotted it home for 6-6.
Ebdon regained the lead in a scrappy 13th and had a chance to steal the next after Higgins had broken down on 51, but missed the third-last red on 32. In frame 15, Wizard of Wishaw Higgins looked set to take the lead for the first time since 1-0, but missed the final brown along the baulk cushion and his opponent cleared to go 8-7 ahead.
More drama ensued in the 16th as Ebdon missed an easy black off the penultimate red and it came down to a safety battle on the pink. Both players failed to convert chances before a loose safety from Ebdon allowed Higgins to roll it into a centre pocket to square the match.
Once again Ebdon showed his powers of resiliance as he dominated the 17th, then knocked in a long red early in the next. This time only one opportunity was required as he built a run of 71 which proved enough.