Ebdon edges Maguire
Peter Ebdon held off a spirited comeback by Stephen Maguire to clinch the 2012 China Open title in a nail-biting 10-9 decider.
Trailing by five frames to one after an overrun opening session, Maguire at one point appeared resigned to defeat but bounced back in the final session – which ran a whopping 13 frames – to take it to the wire.
Ebdon was able to hold his nerve in the decider, however, as the two traded mistakes before the qualifier managed to run all the way to the final colours to clinch his first ranking title since winning the same tournament three years prior.
The victory also made history, with the 41-year-old now boasting the longest stretch between his first and last major victory, a record previously held by fellow comeback king Jimmy White in 2004.
The two methodical tacticians were only able to complete six of the scheduled nine frames before their break ahead of the climax later in the day, but two century breaks from Ebdon and a host of unforced errors by Maguire proved the difference and put the Englishman halfway to victory.
Ebdon’s opening frame was nullified by the first half-ton of the match from the Scot for 1-1, but that would be Maguire’s final contribution to the score in the session as the 2002 World Champion took control.
A 107 restored his advantage before a 64 was followed by a stubborn resistance from Maguire in search of snookers in an effort to draw level a second time.
Ebdon was able to fend him off, before winning his third on the bounce in a foul-filled frame which lasted over an hour.
The overrun meant that the session had to be cut short to ensure both players were able to take a reasonable break going into the final stretch, but Ebdon finished in majestic fashion, clearing the table with a 124 to take a four-frame lead heading into the evening.
It looked as if Ebdon would continue to extend his advantage as his grinding style moved him ahead early in the seventh, but Maguire took his chance well when allowed back onto the table, roaring to an 84 to pull one back.
And though it appeared that his confidence would be damaged irrepairably by Ebdon’s immediate half-ton reply for 6-2, a dramatic late surge at the end of the ninth came out of nowhere for the Scot before a 98 brought him back within two frames.
The final interval of the match came and went, leaving a potential nine consecutive frames of arduous play – and that’s exactly what the two delivered in their quest for a long-overdue title.
Ebdon put in his fastest major break of the match with an efficient 103, but couldn’t shake off Maguire who replied with some of his best potting in the final on his way to a 65 for 7-5.
The Englishman hit a 65 of his own for the three-frame lead once again after Maguire missed a crucial routine black, only for Ebdon to do the same in the next frame to allow a 70 from the Glaswegian.
Two mini-breaks in frame number 15 were followed by another near-miss in a quest for three figures, a 97 bringing Maguire level for the first time since the second frame.
But while the 31-year-old never did find a century throughout the final, Ebdon’s fourth brought him within one frame of the title: a more meticulous 103 which took half an hour to construct was his 300th career ton.
Each man broke over 40 in the penultimate frame before Maguire took control on the final red to force a decider, and with local time in Beijing nearing 01:00am, Ebdon crept over the finish line in an error-filled finale to complete a fairy-tale return to prominence.