Ali Carter doubled his tally of ranking titles with a 10-7 victory over Jamie Burnett in the final of the Roewe Shanghai Masters.
The 31-year-old from Tiptree in Essex pulled away from 8-7 to win the last two frames of a hard-fought contest which finished close to midnight. It’s the second ranking title of his career and first since the Welsh Open 19 months ago when he beat Joe Swail 9-5.
“I just want to win as many titles as I can in my career,” he said. “If you keep getting to the business end of tournaments then you will have chances to win them and that’s what I’ve done. It wasn’t the best match, but those are the ones where winning is what matters.”
Carter, who takes home the trophy and a cheque for £60,000, is up to second place in the world rankings with only John Higgins, banned until November, ahead of him.
The qualified pilot, nicknamed the Captain, has seen his career take off over the past two years, after a long period in which he was considered one of snooker’s under-achievers. After bursting on to the scene with a run to the semi-finals of the 1999 Grand Prix, he failed to reach the same stage of a ranking event again until the 2007 Malta Cup.
His confidence swelled when he reached the final of the World Championship in 2008, making a 147 along the way, and he is arguably now the sport’s most consistent competitior, having reached at least the semi-finals of the last four ranking events. His record in China was once a weakness, having won just three matches in five events prior to this year. But he got to the semi-finals of the Sanyuan Foods China Open in Beijing in April and has now gone all the way to the top prize in Shanghai.
Glasgow’s 34-year-old Burnett enjoyed the best week of his career, having never previously been beyond the quarter-finals of a ranking event, but had to settle for the runner-up prize of £30,000. He moves up to 29th in the rankings.
Leading 5-4 after the first session, Carter went two frames in front for the first time in the match by winning a scrappy opener tonight. He started the next with a break of 52 but Burnett battled his way back and, after a long safety battle on the pink, capitalised on an accidental double-kiss from Carter to pot pink and black for 6-5.
A run of 72 saw Carter move two in front again but another fragmented frame went the way of Burnett as he potted an excellent long brown and added the blue to make it 7-6 at the interval.
Carter got the better of a low-scoring 14th frame, Burnett’s chances ending when his left the last red in the jaws of a top corner. The 15th saw Carter open with 49 before missing an easy pink. Burnett might have cleared but rattled the final green on 37, then got a reprieve when Carter missed a long brown, and dished up to draw with one again at 8-7.
Burnett was first among the balls in frame 16 but missed a red to a top corner on 31. Carter made a calm 64 which proved enough as his opponent was unable to force snookers on the yellow.
The 17th hung in the balance until Carter trapped Burnett in a tough snooker with two reds left at 36-26. The escape left him the chance he needed and a smooth 41 saw Carter over the winning line.
He later revealed that he had struggled throughout the final with a problem with his right arm. “I slept awkwardly on it last night and when I woke up it felt numb,” he said. “I had very little feeling in it all day.
“It was a tough match and a couple of times frustration got the better of me. I know how well I can play and just wanted to win so much. The fluency wouldn’t come and I kept trying to regroup and get myself together.
“The conditions were different to the way they are in the UK. Usually I play with a bit of side but the heavy cloth throws the ball off if you do that here, and I missed some silly balls trying to play with side. After that I played centre-ball as much as I could, then I strung a few breaks together. That was the key for me.”
Burnett said: “I found it hard from the start, I never got into my stride or felt comfortable. There were a lot of close frames that could have gone either way and I won the majority of those, but Ali scored much better than me and he showed his class. There were a couple that I threw away when the balls were there. I tried to hang in there and find a bit of form but it never happened for me.
“I’m happy to have got to the final but disappointed with my performance today.”