The third round of the UK Championship draws to a close on Tuesday when the final eight matches in the round are played out inside the Barbican Centre in York. At the end of the play on Tuesday we will be left with just 16 men and only two tables as we head towards the business stage of the tournament.
We lost two very big names on Monday when Neil Robertson and Judd Trump were dumped out of the tournament so the draw is beginning to open up which adds to the intrigue in the remainder of the competition.
Two of the biggest names in the game are on show in this afternoon session and they both face stiff tests. Ronnie O’Sullivan will get the bulk of the TV coverage when he faces the Paul Hunter Classic champion Michael White while the Indian Open winner John Higgins will go up against the Northern Ireland Open finalist Yan Bingtao.
The outside tables aren’t lacking in talent in this session either. Luca Brecel is in action on one of them when he faces the former winner in Northern Ireland, Mark King, while Martin Gould will look to keep his Masters hopes alive when he goes up against Hossein Vafaei in a big match for the Englishman.
The Champion of Champions winner Shaun Murphy is the headline act in the evening session. He looks to take a step towards a second UK title when he goes up against the talented Jimmy Robertson. There looks to be a close battle on the other TV table when Kyren Wilson takes on a Ricky Walden who has shown a return to form.
Barry Hawkins is surprisingly on the outside tables although he is still in the main arena in this session. He goes up against the lowest man left in the competition in the form of Thai player Akani Songsermsawad. There is an all-Asian battle on the other table when Xiao Guodong plays Noppon Saengkham.
I’m going to go with two bets on Tuesday and while this hasn’t been a tournament for favourites I do expect a couple of favourites to come through with a little in hand over the course of the day.
The stakes are beginning to get high for Martin Gould. We lost Neil Robertson from The Masters race on Monday night so a win for him against Hossein Vafaei will boost his chances. I like Vafaei and he’s done well to come through here but it has all been a battle and after a series of tournaments in quick succession I wonder how much he’ll have left. Gould is scoring really well in this tournament. He has seven 50 breaks and a couple of tons from his two matches and if he can keep scoring like that he should have too much for Vafaei over this distance.
Xiao Guodong is another who has looked really good in this tournament. He has only dropped one frame in his two matches and has taken on some decent opponents so far in Chen Zifan and Tom Ford. He now faces a Noppon Saengkham who is battling to stay on the tour and has taken advantage of a kind draw thus far but I fancy his run ends here. Guodong is the first form horse he has come up against and the way he is scoring I expect the Chinese player to win with a fair bit in hand.
WON – Back M.Gould (-1.5 frames) to beat H.Vafaei for a 4/10 stake at 1.80 with Ladbrokes
WON – Back X.Guodong (-2 Asian Handicap) to beat N.Saengkham for a 4/10 stake at 1.88 with Bet365