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The 2009 World Snooker Championship took place in The Crucible Theatre, Sheffield, between April 18 and May 4. 888.com dropped the sponsorship, and Betfred.com took over.
The pre-tournament favourite was undoubtedly Ronnie O'Sullivan. The World Number 1 had secured his status for another season, despite not playing in two events, and was the defending World Champion. The season had been very open, however. While O'Sullivan had won two ranking events, the rest were spread around. Ricky Walden, John Higgins, Neil Robertson, Shaun Murphy, Allister Carter and Peter Ebdon had all won events during the season. Making their debuts at The Crucible would be Rory McLeod, Martin Gould, Andrew Higginson and Walden. The field contained a rich list of World Champions. 6-time World Champion, Steve Davis, had qualified for the World Championship for the 29th time, aged 51. 7-time World Champion, Stephen Hendry, was making his 24th consecutive appearance, aged 40. There were in total, 8 former World Champions on show.
The first round draw saw many notable ties, including the first ever all-Chinese match, between Ding Junhui and Liang Wenbo. The big match however, saw Stephen Hendry play double World Champion, Mark Williams. The Chinese matchup was won by Ding Junhui, the higher ranked of the two, and won 10-8. He would play Stephen Hendry in the last 16, who went from 4-1 up to 6-4 down against Mark Williams, before winning 10-7. All of the big seeds made it through, although the World #3, and UK Champion, Shaun Murphy, was made to struggle against Higginson. There was rumour of him being issued with a writ from his recently divorced wife during the middle of his match. With his mind elsewhere, and being naturally taken aback, Murphy did well to prevail 10-8. Stephen Maguire beat Jamie Burnett 10-5, a match which caused controversy and allegations of fixing back at the UK Championship. There was no joy for Davis, who played terribly to lose 10-2 to Robertson. He nevertheless improved his ranking after a string of good performances. Mark Selby brushed aside Ricky Walden 10-6. John Higgins beat Michael Holt 10-5. The only shocks were Peter Ebdon's 10-5 loss to Nigel Bond, and Joe Perry's 10-6 loss to Jamie Cope. For the first time in years, all the big names were through to the last 16.
Ronnie O'Sullivan was favourite against Mark Allen, but failed to play as well as he could. Allen took all his chances, and won 13-11. Cue all of the usual talk from Ronnie about how he hates the game etc. The #1 seed was out though, and suddenly the Championship was wide open. Allen would play Ryan Day in the Quarter Finals, who beat Bond 13-5. John Higgins played excellently against Jamie Cope. Coming from 12-10 down, Higgins won the last three frames to win 13-12. The final frame was even interrupted by fans being taken ill in the arena, half way through his break. Mark Selby beat Graeme Dott 13-10, but the match was not without incident:Murphy was back to full fitness, and beat Fu 13-3. Hendry advanced to the Quarter Finals after a 13-10 win over Ding Junhui. Robertson and Carter were evenly matched on paper, but the Australian won 13-8. Stephen Maguire was the last Quarter Finalist, beating Mark King 13-6. The Quarter Finals saw all of the leading players - bar O'Sullivan. The tournament had far from lost its spark, however. Mark Allen reached the Semis after a 13-11 win against Ryan Day. Neil Robertson played terribly, but thanks to great clearances, managed to hold his advantage throughout the match, eventually winning 13-8. Stephen Hendry was far from favourite in his match, but he was in great form: This shot, was the shot of the Championship, in my opinion. However, from there, Hendry lost his focus. He went from 5-2 up to lose 13-11. The John Higgins-Mark Selby match was a rematch of the 2007 Final. Selby led 3-0, Higgins led 4-3, then 4-4, Higgins led 7-4, Selby led 8-7, then 8-8, and then advancing to 12-12. Eventually, things got underway. So then we were down to the 1-table situation at The Crucible. In the opening Semi Final, Allen was 13-3 down to Higgins, but made a comeback, eventually losing 17-13. His time will surely come. Neil Robertson was clinging on to Murphy all the way through his Semi Final, eventually losing 17-14. Still no true Australian World Snooker Champion. Robertson had been the first Australian Semi Finalist since Eddie Charlton in 1982. And so, the Final. Michaela Tabb became the first woman to referee a World Snooker Final. The 2005 Champion against the 1998 and 2007 World Champion. At 4-4, Murphy never turned up for the evening session (metaphorically) and went 11-5 down overnight. Indeed, John Higgins nearly couldn't go home: Higgins completed the formalities the next day. The presentation ceremony: Best shots of the Championship: John Higgins, then, is a three-time World Champion. His status as an all-time great of the game is assured. How many more can he win?