MARK DAVIS’s 5-4 victory over Stuart Bingham in the Australian Goldfields Open quarter-finals on Friday was another good result for one of snooker’s late bloomers.
Davis is among a number of experienced players written off as journeymen just a few years ago, a group which includes Bingham, Barry Hawkins, Robert Milkins and Joe Perry. They watched professional snooker gurgling towards the plughole and with it the realisation that their own careers had not been as distinguished as they had wished.
When the game turned a corner, so did they. You don’t hear them moaning about ‘too much snooker.’ After years of toiling down the rankings, they relish the chance to play and they’ve got the results as some of the younger brigade have failed to make the step up.
Davis is a case in point. Two years ago he set off for three weeks of snooker in three different countries. He returned home to Hastings having been a semi-finalist in Wuxi, China, the winner of the six reds world title in Bangkok, Thailand and a semi-finalist in the Goldfields Open in Bendigo, Australia.
In this event he beat Neil Robertson in the last 16, not a popular victory locally but a deserved one. Robertson now stands in Davis’s way of a place in Sunday’s final.
The Wuxi Classic champion was not at his best against Milkins, as he had been on Thursday against Jamie Jones, but fought hard, concentrated well and, on a lightning fast table, got the result.
If he wins against Davis on Saturday he will return to the world no.1 spot, despite his scathing views on the new prize money list.
Judd Trump will play Xiao Guodong in the other semi-final after coming from 3-0 down to beat Ricky Walden 5-4, another strong performance, this time in adversity.
With their mutual penchant for fine footwear, this is something of a snooker shoe-down. Xiao is dangerous and a good bet to get in the top 16 this season. Trump just wants another ranking title. It’s been nearly two years since his last.
For Davis, it’s been 23 years on the circuit. Most players decline by this point. He has improved beyond all recognition. A ranking title would be the icing in the cake.
Photographs by Monique Limbos.