Mark Allen did himself a lot of credit after what must have been a difficult defeat to Stuart Bingham in the Shanghai Masters final for all sorts of reasons. First and foremost he looked flat from the start, gave himself a big mountain to climb and then missed chances to get back close to Bingham and put some real pressure on the world No11.
In addition to not playing to his best, Allen became frustrated with some worsening table conditions but made very little mention of that in his post-match press conference. And then there was losing to a player who he has not always seen eye to eye with after labelling Bingham a “bottler” and triggering something of a war of words three years ago.
But there was clear evidence in the arena afterwards and in some respectful comments that there has been a thawing of relations in that department. And while standing under such circumstances as the loser in the arena for a very long time before the presentation ceremony would test anyone, Allen made use of the time to force a smile and go round the arena signing autographs and posing for pictures with Chinese fans, with whom he retains a strong following.
Photograph by Monique Limbos