After a high quality day of quarter finals we are down to the semi-finals in the European Masters in Lommel on Saturday. We’ve got to the point of the tournament where the format increases and with that so does the prize money so it should be a tantalising day of snooker.
Two of the semi-finalists may have been predictable prior to a ball being hit this week but two of them were much harder to predict, although we managed to pick out one of them! That ensures a degree of intrigue to proceedings too. These semis will be played over the best of 11 frames.
Judd Trump vs Cao Yupeng
The opening semi-final sees a man experienced in being at this stage of a tournament in the form of the defending champion Judd Trump, taking on a man at the opposite end of the scale in Cao Yupeng. This will be Yupeng’s maiden major semi-final.
I don’t expect nerves to be a factor in this match. The Asian players show time and time again that they either don’t have them or are capable of overcoming them which is often good to see. That allows us to tackle this match on the form of the week so far.
I have to say I remain convinced that Trump is not on top form this week. He went 3-0 up on Mark Allen in the quarter final but that was down to some unusual misses from Allen more than anything. Even then he nearly let it slip. Yupeng looks to be here on merit. He’s been tested and come through and he has scored well and come through too.
I’m unsure whether Cao has it in him to win this match given the magnitude of it and the opponent he is facing but the evidence of the week thus far suggests he is going to get chances. If he can take one early to settle down he can definitely keep this closer than the handicaps suggest.
Stuart Bingham vs Zhou Yuelong
The dynamic of the second semi-final very much follows the path of the first one with the experienced Stuart Bingham taking on the Chinese youngster Zhou Yuelong, who like his compatriot in the other semi, is in his first match at this level.
Bingham finally ensured Mark Selby’s luck ran out in the quarter final with a pretty convincing win but that was nothing compared to the performance that Zhou produced in whitewashing Anthony McGill. The Scot could have won the second frame but once Zhou hung in and won that he finishes with back-to-back total clearances to announce himself as ready to land a title.
I predicted before a ball was hit that he would threaten a major title this season and I’m on him this week so I’m delighted that the stars have aligned to give me the chance of a huge priced winner. I’m effectively on Zhou at 40/1 for this match which is a position I’m happy with. I’m not betting on the match as a result but anyone not on Zhou could do worse than back him at the prices as he looked very good in the quarter final and still remains under little pressure here.
Back C.Yupeng (+3.5 frames) to beat J.Trump for a 4/10 stake at 1.83 with Ladbrokes