Hearn hails ‘fabulous British sporting occasion’
PUBLISHED: 17:29 17 April 2015 | UPDATED: 17:29 17 April 2015
Supremo excited about World Snooker Championships
Barry Hearn admits he cannot wait for the World Snooker Championships to get underway at the Crucible in Sheffield.
Mark Selby is looking to defend his title, but will have to buck the historical trend of recent years to do so.
No first-time winner has been able to add a second successive crown the year after and Hearn feels the field is open.
He said: “The qualifying has been an event in itself; it’s been amazing. Sixteen players have come though 128 to qualify to play the top 16 in the world and the biggest show on earth starts on Saturday.
“It’s huge, it’s a fabulous British sporting occasion and I can’t wait to start.
“There are four or five really big names that are going to be up there, but you get the feeling this is the sort of climate and the way the game is expanding so much, that this is the year for shocks? I don’t know.
“Ronnie O’Sullivan is 2-1 favourite with Bet Fred. He’s there because he is a genius, but is he consistent enough to win over 15 days?
“Mark Selby bis ang in form, back after winning the China Open last week. Hard as nails when it comes to match play. Neil Robertson is the same.
“Shaun Murphy is going to be right up there. Judd Trump’s had a fantastic season, playing against Ronnie in three finals, winning one of them and looking like he might be the new Ronnie O’Sullivan.
“Ding Junhui has had a terrible season, but he would love to bounce back in time to win the big one. There’s 32 players and all are in with a crack at it.”
Hearn has been going along to the championships for almost four decades, famously overseeing Steve Davis on his way to six titles.
And he says the Crucible is still a mesmerising venue, which could see Ronnie O’Sullivan cruise to another title – or go out early – such is the unpredictable nature of the sport.
He added: “It’s unique. I’ve been going there since 1977. It just produces on a slow boil. It doesn’t just hit you straight away.
“It’s a slow boil to build moments of amazing drama. You get involved in the whole soap opera of it. Characters are playing, the drama of the game, swings and roundabouts of outrageous fortune. It does seem to produce it year on year and long may it stay there.
“I don’t think Ronnie knows what’s going to turn up. That is the brilliance of a genius. People say it’s a shame Ronnie doesn’t do this and doesn’t do that. If he was ordinary he would be an ordinary player
“But he’s extraordinary and he’s an extraordinary player. He could win this at a canter or could go out in the first round – you just don’t know.”
*Barry Hearn will return as chairman for the day as a star-studded Men United XI take on Leyton Orient Legends on May 31st, as O’s youth coach and Prostate Cancer UK ambassador Errol McKellar hosts a charity match at The Matchroom Stadium.
Harry Redknapp’s return to management will see him lead Men United against the O’s promotion-winning side of 2005/06 managed by Martin Ling.
“Errol’s a special bloke,” said Hearn. “He’s one of those guys that you can’t do enough for, because he’s always got a smile on his face.
“When something like this comes down which is obviously for a great cause, but also built around the old Orient squad with Martin Ling, I wanted to get involved. I was supposed to be in Dubai for the Dubai Duty Free Masters, but I cancelled it straight away. I’m not missing this day for anything.
“Prostate cancer is something we have all got to be aware of. We have all got to be aware of certain health issues because it’s stupid not to be. It’s common sense isn’t it?
“Get checked out, talk about it, don’t have any secrets, because there are a lot of people that didn’t years ago and they paid the ultimate price.
“There is such great progress being made with prostate cancer, but it needs financing the same as anything else. In today’s age you can’t expect hand-outs for free. “The fact that men have got involved and are doing things like this around the country can only be good news; not just for us having a good day out, but for general wellbeing. I’m coming up to 67 and am probably at the age to benefit from it as much as anybody.”
Tickets for the Men United XI match are priced at £10 adults and £5 concessions, and are available from www.lofcdirect.co.uk
People are being urged to search Men United, and do something great with their mates via www.prostatecanceruk.org/menunited.
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