Ebdon's clowning paying dividends

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The Independent Online
Peter Ebdon has a record coming out on 20 May, the title of which - "I am a Clown" - some regard as inappropriate, as they would insert the word "total" in there. Then again there are others who regard him as a welcome splash of colour in a sport where grey is the vogue.

The 25-year-old 10th seed at the Embassy World Championship provokes a reaction. Be it with his exuberant screams of "Come on!" when he wins an important frame, or his rolling round the floor when he defeated Steve Davis. "It's just an explosion of tension," Ebdon said of his celebrations. "I get really involved in the match, I'm really trying, summoning up anything I can to achieve my goal. It's not something I do deliberately.

Ebdon had something to shout about yesterday because, in his first World Championship semi-final, he gained a 4-3 lead over Ronnie O'Sullivan in the opening session of their best-of-31-frames contest. Playing at The Crucible with one table is a different experience to the claustrophobic conditions when two tables and a screen have to be shoehorned into the venue. Neither player had felt the full width before and, inevitably, neither shone in the opening exchanges.

The first frame was a shambles which O'Sullivan put out of its misery with a break of 27. Ebdon got back into the match with a winning break of 76 in the second frame. With his confidence massaged he gained his advantage with a break of 109 in the final frame.

Stephen Hendry, attempting to win his sixth title, slipped 3-1 behind against the player he beat in last year's final, Nigel Bond. True to form in this championship, however, he got better as the session progressed and by the finish was 4-3 ahead.

n The broadcaster "Whispering" Ted Lowe is to retire after 50 years involvement with the World Championship. Lowe, 75, will commentate for the last time in Monday's final.

EMBASSY WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP (Sheffield): Quarter-finals: P Ebdon (Eng) bt S Davis (Eng) 13-10. Semi-final: Ebdon leads R O'Sullivan (Eng) 4-3; S Hendry (Sco) leads N Bond (Eng) 4-3.