CAN HENDRY REGAIN A TOP 16 SPOT?
Stephen Hendry faces a battle in China and at Sheffield as he attempts to regain a top 16 spot in the Professional Snooker Elo Ratings. The Scot is currently in 17th place in the rankings, just 7 rating points off Mark Allen in 16th spot. However, with 15th placed Matthew Stevens failing to make the last 32 in China and at The Crucible, Hendry must see both of these fothcoming tournaments as a chance to retain a spot in the elite 16 - being just 8 rating points behind the Welshman.
The China Open may see Liang Wenbo fulfil his early promise and join his countryman Ding Junhui in the elite. Wenbo still has to play a possible two qualifying matches in China, and wins in both of them would set up a potential make or break match in the last 32 against Hendry - however should Wenbo beat Rob Milkins then he will need to get past Joe Swail who must have gained quite a bit of confidence after his appearance in the Welsh Open final and his 10:1 victory over Matthew Couch to get to Sheffield.
It is also quite interesting at the top of the ratings. Ronnie O'Sullivan is still top but is just 36 rating points ahead of second placed Ali Carter - and the top spot at the end of the season will depend on how these two perform in Beijing and Sheffield. However, we can't dismiss the other players lurking in the top 5, as good results fro John Higgins, Stephen Maguire and Shaun Murphy coupled with early defeats for O'Sullivan and Carter could see any of them pinch the top spot at the end of the season.
The race for the Player of the Year title is also hotting up with Ricky Walden regaining top spot ahead of Judd Trump due to the fact that Walden has now qualified for Sheffield, with Trump failing. Both of these players have also qualified for the China Open, but it could be argued that should both players get past their Wild Card matches, then Trump would have the easier draw as he plays Peter Ebdon in the first round with Walden potentially facing Joe Perry. Neil Robertson, however, is still in contention just behind the top 2 and good runs in China and the World Championship could see him eventually snatch the title. The top 5 currently standing as follows:
And here are the current Professional Snooker Elo Ratings after the final qualifying round for the World Championship:
(Note: The "Prev." column in the table below shows that player's Previous Elo Ranking following the 2009 Welsh Open, whilst the "+/-" column shows the change between the previous ranking and the current ranking.)