The third round of the UK Championship gets underway at the Barbican Centre in York on Monday and with just the main arena being used from here on in there is a feeling that the tournament is ready to crank up a notch.
Plenty of big names have failed to make it through to this stage but despite that there is a stellar cast list on show on Monday including the defending champion Ronnie O’Sullivan and the world champion Mark Williams.
O’Sullivan headlines the afternoon session of play when he looks to put two indifferent performances behind him as he takes on Zhou Yuelong for the second ranking event in a row. That is on one of the main tables with Kyren Wilson going up against another talented Chinese player in Yan Bingtao on the other one.
There are two matches away from the cameras in this session as well. Luca Brecel will be looking to continue his run to the latter stages of the tournament when he also plays a Chinese player in Lu Ning. The other match in the session sees Alan McManus looking to build on his win over John Higgins when he goes up against Tom Ford.
Two great matches are on show on the main tables in the evening session. The world champion Mark Williams is in action when he takes on Noppon Saengkham but the bigger match could be on the other table where Ali Carter meets Stephen Maguire in what is a huge clash in terms of the race to The Masters. Carter must win and if he does Maguire’s place will be extremely vulnerable.
Joe Perry is the biggest name on the outside tables. He will be looking to end the dream run of Joe O’Connor who has already taken two decent scalps this week already. The other table sees Martin O’Donnell looking to continue his good form. He takes on the Chinese player Tian Pengfei in what could easily turn into a huge battle.
I’ll go with three bets on Monday with them all coming in the evening session. In the big match of the night I think Ali Carter is good value even at 4/5. He has a wonderful recent record against Stephen Maguire with six wins in their last seven matches away from the Championship League and the one Maguire won was in a deciding frame. Carter has won both their meetings this year and this match means a whole lot to him. Maguire hasn’t really hit the heights expected of him this week whereas Carter has played pretty well. I think the Englishman can win through here.
Mark Williams has come through the draw comfortably so far but neither of his opponents have played to their capabilities so far and he should have a much tougher time of it against Noppon Saengkham. The Thai lost to Williams in a deciding frame in the World Open semi-final earlier this year having led 5-2 before losing 6-5 and I think he can run him as close here if not beat him. Saengkham has been one of the form players this season with that semi-final run and a trip to the quarter finals in the English Open. Williams has not really played well this season. He might win this but I don’t think he will win before Saengkham gets four frames.
Tian Pengfei and Martin O’Donnell both have the chance to do their ranking no harm whatsoever on Monday night with a win worth another £5,000 and the chance to play for a lot more and as such I think we are in for a tight battle here. Both men have played a lot of close matches this season, not always coming out in the right side of them but they won’t be adverse to a battle. Both have shown some decent nick this week as well so 6-4 or 6-5 either way would seem to be the likeliest outcome in this one.
Back A.Carter to beat S.Maguire for a 4/10 stake at 1.80 with Betfair
Back him here:
Back N.Saengkham (+2.5 frames) to beat M.Williams for a 4/10 stake at 1.90 with BetVictor
Back T.Pengfei vs M.O’Donnell – Over 9.5 frames for a 4/10 stake at 2.20 with William Hill
Back it here: