Fairy tales sometimes happen at the snooker table. At the start of the German Masters at the Tempodrom in Berlin, 45-year-old Anthony Hamilton was ranked 66th in the world, had never won a ranking title, and had last year only kept his place on the professional circuit by the skin of his teeth. After an impressive series of scalps, he defeated Ali Carter 9-6 in the final to become champion.
After developing his talent with his snooker cues, Anthony Hamilton turned professional in 1991 and has spent five seasons ranked in the world top 16, reaching 10 in the 1999/2000 season. He’d played in two ranking finals before this year, losing to Fergal O’Brien in the 1999 British Open and Mark Williams in the 2001 China Open, and also four times reached the quarter-finals of the World Championship.
Hamilton has always been a popular figure on the professional circuit, and has often been tagged as the best player never to have won a major title — though no longer.
The Road to the Final
The German Open line-up was star-studded, but many big names went out in the first round, including Jimmy White, Peter Ebdon and last month’s Masters champion, Ronnie O’Sullivan. Ali Carter proceeded serenely through his rounds, knocking out Stephen Maguire, Zhao Xingtong and Tom Ford before defeating the defending champion Martin Gould 6-2 in the semi-final.
Hamilton had a tougher route, his scalps including the two top-rated players in the world, Mark Selby and Stuart Bingham. He also defeated Barry Hawkins and (finally getting revenge for the China Open) Mark Williams.
Hamilton went into the final against Carter very much the underdog, and at first the match seemed to be going to form. With one more frame to go in the afternoon session, he was trailing Carter 5-2, but he won that frame and then the first four of the evening, with breaks of 49, 118, 73 and 74, to go 7-5 up.
Carter looked set to take the next frame but missed an easy black, and Hamilton didn’t give him a second chance. Although Carter took the following frame, Hamilton crossed the line at 9-6, thanks to a break of 57 and a difficult plant, after which Carter failed to get the snookers he needed.
Anthony Hamilton, whose parents were present to see his victory, said of the title, “I stopped wanting it so badly and that took the pressure off.” Ali Carter was generous in defeat, commenting that “Anthony played really well. He thoroughly deserved it. I'm delighted for him.”