The second round of the China Championship is played out across two sessions of action in Guangzhou on Wednesday as the 32 men remaining in the tournament are whittled down to just 16 players.
By and large the majority of the big names have made it through to this stage and much like tennis this is the round of the tournament where top players collide for the first time which should make for a cracking day.
There are some big names on show in the morning session of the tournament with John Higgins probably the pick of them. As such he is on one of the TV tables. He goes up against the Chinese outsider Mei Xi Wen while Shaun Murphy is back in the spotlight on the other table. He takes on the dangerous Xiao Guodong in the pick of the morning battles.
As ever some big names are on the outside tables with Judd Trump being out there. He takes on Jamie Jones while Stuart Bingham faces Yan Bingtao in what should be a cracking contest on one of the other tables. The other matches see Martin O’Donnell taking on Tom Ford, Liang Wenbo facing his countryman and stablemate Zhang Anda, Joe Perry faces Lyu Haotian and Jack Lisowski goes up against Scott Donaldson.
This session is absolutely loaded with stellar names but it is Mark Selby and Ding Junhui who will occupy the TV tables once again. Selby goes up against the talented Chinese youngster Chang Bingyu while it is a Chinese opponent for Ding too. He goes up against Yuan Sijun for a place in the last 16 of the tournament.
That means the world champion Mark Williams is on one of the outside tables. He faces a tricky test in Gary Wilson while The Masters winner Mark Allen is another reduced to the outside of the hall. He meets Mark King with two former world champions meeting as Neil Robertson faces Graeme Dott. Barry Hawkins takes on Noppon Saengkham with the other two matches seeing Ryan Day face Hossein Vafaei and Fergal O’Brien going up against the youngster Zhao Xintong.
I’ll go with a bet in each session on Wednesday. In the morning session I’m happy to ride the wave of Xiao Guodong once again. He was excellent in dismissing Mark Davis in the first round, scoring heavily and restricting the chances of his opponent and I think he can get the better of Shaun Murphy. Murphy saw off Liam Highfield’s challenge on Tuesday but he only made one break over 55 in the entire match and that isn’t Murphy anywhere near his best. Guodong is in the middle of a good patch. He has already made one quarter final in China and he can go another step towards another here.
Fergal O’Brien has two wins over Zhao Xintong already in their careers including in the World Open this year and I think he can make it a hat trick of victories when they meet on Wednesday. O’Brien was in fine form in beating Ali Carter in the first round on Monday and if he can repeat that performance he should have enough for Xintong who never really scored all that well against Anthony McGill in the first round. If the Chinese youngster doesn’t score here you wouldn’t give him much of a chance against O’Brien’s tactical nous so the odds against on the Irishman looks attractive to me, especially if he scores like he did against Carter.
Back X.Guodong to beat S.Murphy for a 4/10 stake at 2.38 with 888sport
Back F.O’Brien to beat Z.Xintong for a 4/10 stake at 2.38 with Betfred