We are down to the semi-final stage of the International Championship with the opening match of the two taking place on Friday when two men have a huge chance to make a major final when Jordan Brown takes on Tom Ford.
These two will meet over the best of 17 frames for a place in the final and with just three proper ranking event finals between the two in their career so far this is clearly a huge day for both men which should make for a competitive match.
I think Jordan Brown will begin this match with the slight advantage that he has already put a trophy on his mantelpiece in the past. That takes the pressure off him a little in that everyone wants to win a title and he has done that. It also gives him the knowledge that he has the experience to get the job done which doesn’t appear in the other corner so it will be interesting to see if he can use that to his benefit over the course of the day.
The one thing we can say about Brown is he has hit a rich vein of form over the last month or so. He beat Neil Robertson at the Northern Ireland Open and this week his four victims have been Dave Gilbert, Kyren Wilson, John Higgins and Stephen Maguire, so he certainly hasn’t had the easiest path to this semi-final. Brown repelled something of a fightback from Maguire in the quarter final to win in a deciding frame and that might tell us everything about the belief he has in himself.
Tom Ford has yet to win a major title in his career so for him this is a huge weekend as it could change both his life and his career. He would be comfortably inside the top 16 if he wins the title and with The Masters cut off just around the corner that would be massive for him. A win here would also get him into the Champion of Champions for the first time and he would automatically qualify for all the Players Series events towards the end of the campaign.
Ford has already made a final this year when he lost to Ali Carter in the German Masters so he knows how to come through the semi-final. Much like his opponent here, Ford has had to do it the hard way this week. He has seen off Cao Yupeng, Marco Fu, Mark Selby and Barry Hawkins to make it to this stage so he fully justifies being in this match. Ford has got better the longer the tournament has gone on and he’ll hope to continue that impression here.
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Incredibly, these two have only met once in their careers despite them being of a similar ranking for a good while. That came in the Indian Open in 2019 where they met in the first round and Ford won that match in a deciding frame. That was only the best of seven and four years ago so it remains to be seen how much relevance that has given that this is a two-session match over the best of 17 frames but it might be something Ford takes in with him given that he came out on top.
I’ve a hunch that Jordan Brown is playing even better than when he won the Welsh Open and when you consider that he beat Ronnie O’Sullivan in the final of that event he was clearly playing well that week. In saying that, there are sure to be plenty of nerves around in this match and that puts me off getting involved in the outcome of the game. There is one way in that even though it is a short price I do think will pay out.
That comes in the form of over 14.5 frames so we need this match to finish 9-6, 9-7 or 9-8 to either man. I don’t think either of these players will have come this far to let this one go without giving it everything they have got. Both men know their way around the table should it get scrappy but they have both scored pretty well this week and I suspect that will ensure this stays pretty close. Their only previous meeting went the distance and although that was only over the best of seven, if this one is 4-3 after seven frames you’d imagine it coats to frame 15. I like the over here.
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