It is a busy day to kick off the World Open on Monday with three full sessions of play taking place out in China as the biggest event of the season so far gets going. Whoever wins this week will have earned their corn especially if it is someone who is having to play a held over match.
It might be the first day of the competition but that does not mean the big names are hiding away. Both the defending champion Ding Junhui and the world champion Mark Williams are in action right from the beginning.
Early Morning Session
The majority of the held over matches get the competition underway in the first session. Neil Robertson is the biggest name on show and he takes on Chinese amateur He Guoqiang while Yan Bingtao meets Ashley Carty in another held over game. The others in this session see Mike Dunn taking on Luo Zetao, Ben Woollaston playing Bai Langning and Jimmy Robertson facing Chang Bingyu. In the main draw Robert Milkins meets David Lilley and Lee Walker goes up against Matthew Selt.
Later Morning Session
There are two more held over matches in the later morning session and both occupy the TV tables. Liang Wenbo meets James Cahill in one while Mark Williams goes up against Lukas Kleckers in the other. The other matches are all in the main draw and see Thepchaiya Un-Nooh playing Stephen Maguire in a good match, Zhou Yuelong taking on Jamie Jones in another while Rod Lawler meets Noppon Saengkham. Fergal O’Brien faces Zhao Xintong, Dominic Dale meets Ricky Walden and Marco Fu goes up against Peter Ebdon.
The final session of the opening day sees the defending champion Ding Junhui competing in the final held over match. He faces James Wattana on a TV table while the other televised match comes from the first round as Barry Hawkins plays Akani Songsermsawad. The other matches are all on the outside tables and sees Ali Carter playing Rory McLeod, Scott Donaldson up against Luca Brecel, Gary Wilson playing Tom Ford, Ryan Day taking on Robbie Williams, Jak Jones against Zhang Anda and one of the matches of the opening day in Jack Lisowski against Chris Wakelin.
I’ll take a couple of handicaps to get things going in this tournament. Zhao Xintong fell off the tour last season but he is certainly making good strides to ensure he doesn’t drop off again. Already this season he has beaten Graeme Dott and Shaun Murphy, the latter dispatched 4-0 and he appears to be playing well. Usually I would suggest that Fergal O’Brien would grind the youngster down but I’m not convinced he’ll be able to here. I think the Chinese player will get in and get the balls open and do some damage so I’m happy to take him to cover 1.5 frames.
The other bet I like is for Akani Songsermsawad to stay within a couple of frames of Barry Hawkins. Hawkins is a notorious poor starter to the season and we saw that in Riga when he went out in the first round. These two men have met just once in the past and the Thai won it 6-0. I don’t think he’ll be that emphatic here. He might not even win but he has enough about him to be more than competitive and if Hawkins isn’t up to full speed just yet then that should be more than enough for Akani to make it to three frames.
Back Z.Xintong (-1.5 frames) to beat F.O’Brien for a 4/10 stake at 2.00 with William Hill
Back A.Songsermsawad (+2.5 frames) to beat B.Hawkins for a 4/10 stake at 1.73 with BetVictor