On the face of it not a great deal should be read into Mark Davis’s 3-2 defeat of Ronnie O’Sullivan in the final of group 5 of the Championship League last week but a win is a win and it may be in the back of his mind as he prepares to take on O’Sullivan at the Tempodrom today.
O’Sullivan spent most of Wednesday taking part in British Eurosport’s coverage of the German Masters but playing is of course his first love and this tournament has meant a lot to him in the past.
He arrived for the 2012 staging in Berlin looking for form and found some, playing superbly to beat Stephen Maguire in a high quality final. Two months later he triumphed at the Crucible for the fourth time.
Davis is one of a number of experienced professionals who has suddenly developed some consistency late on in his career. He is solid in most areas but, like so many before him, has the added pressure of playing O’Sullivan on a big stage to contend with. There is no audience at Crondon Park but there will surely be a big one this afternoon at the Tempodrom.
Davis has beaten O’Sullivan in a ranking event but that was back in 2001 at the Scottish Open. However, at least the Hastings man is match sharp. He played in three groups of the Championship League and it was apparent how a similar amount of match-play had hardened Peter Ebdon against John Higgins yesterday.
O’Sullivan, though, will start as clear favourite. He seems to have taken to his studio work but he remains the player to beat. His game rather fell away against Neil Robertson in the semi-finals of the Masters last month but it has been dependable in the game’s big events this season.
Davis, then, knows he will have to cut out all unforced errors if he is to cause an upset this afternoon.
Photographs by Monique Limbos.