The opening day of the English Open in Crawley sees half of the first round play out on what is always a busy start to these Home Nations events. There are three condensed sessions of play for us to enjoy.
One of the beauties of these Home Nations tournaments is that we don’t have to wait a few days for the big names to come up and get stuck in. On Monday we have Barry Hawkins, Shaun Murphy, Ronnie O’Sullivan and Mark Selby among others.
Seven matches make up the morning session and both the televised tables are in action in it. Barry Hawkins will have the TV table honour when he takes on the largely unknown Moroccan player Amiri Amine while on the streamed table Yan Bingtao will take on his fellow Chinese player Mei Xiwen for a place in the second round.
The other five matches are on the outside tables with the pick of them probably being the one between Ben Woollaston and Andrew Higginson. Matthew Stevens competes in this part of the hall when he goes up against Xu Si while Gerard Greene takes on Tian Pengfei in what might be hard fought battle. Si Jiahui goes up against Soheil Vahedi in an all-Asian clash while Duane Jones plays Lu Ning in the other match in the session.
We have two full sets of matches in the session and then a couple held over for extra matches on the live tables should they be needed. First up on the TV table the world champion Judd Trump will be in action when he takes on Peter Ebdon while on the streamed table Joe Perry will go up against the English amateur player Mark Lloyd for a second round spot. Elsewhere there is a good match between Kurt Maflin and Noppon Saengkham while Martin Gould against Sunny Akani is another appealing match on the outside tables. Tom Ford plays Peter Lines in another match while Fan Zhengyi meets Riley Parsons and Anthony McGill and Chris Wakelin face off against each other.
The second televised match in the afternoon session sees Stuart Bingham begin the defence of his title when he takes on Kacper Filipiak from Poland. Mark Selby will be on the streamed table when he faces off against the veteran Barry Pinches. There are some big names on the outside tables in this session too. Xiao Guodong is one of them and he meets Rod Lawler while Ali Carter faces Alan McManus. We also have Anthony Hamilton playing Zhang Jiankang and Ryan Davies meeting Lei Peofan with Mark King and Robbie Williams meeting in the other game.
The two matches that will go on the main tables will see Ding Junhui on the TV table when he meets the ever popular Dominic Dale while on the streamed table we will be treated to what looks like a decent match between Xhou Yuelong and Michael White, two very talented players.
Ronnie O’Sullivan begins his title challenge in the evening session. The 2017 winner goes up against Jamie O’Neill in a match he should win with a fair bit in hand. The streamed table sees the European Masters champion Jimmy Robertson facing Robert Milkins in another interesting opening day battle. Away from the spotlight we have Harvey Chandler facing Mike Dun while Joe O’Connor meets Ian Burns. Michael Holt faces the World Championship star James Cahill and the other two matches sees Alfie Burden playing Andy Hicks and Andy Lee meeting David Lilley.
Two more matches will be saved for second games on the main tables. China Championship winner Shaun Murphy will go on the TV table after O’Sullivan when he meets Chang Bingyu while over on the streamed table Luca Brecel will begin his quest for another ranking event title when he takes on Adam Stefanow for a place in the second round.
Two bets will get us going on the opening day of the event. Barry Hawkins should have everything in his favour to do a right good job on the Moroccan player Amiri Amine who has got something of a baptism of fire on his hands here. Not only is he making his debut on the tour here and taking on one of the best players in the world but he is on TV where the conditions are even more alien to him. That isn’t the case for Hawkins and it would be a huge surprise if he doesn’t come through this one 4-0. I’m surprised we are getting a price as big as 8/11 but I’m happy to take it. It should be around 1/3 minimum.
Kurt Maflin is having a very good season at the minute and I fancy he can continue that when he goes up against Noppon Saengkham in the first round. I like Saengkham and respect him a lot but Maflin made the semis in Riga at the beginning of the season and the quarters in China recently when he ran into the eventual winner Shaun Murphy in pretty hot form. Earlier that week Maflin beat John Higgins and you don’t do that if you’re holding the wrong end of the cue. Bookmakers have this as a pick ‘em and I understand why but on form so far this season I’m with the Norwegian here.
WON – Back B.Hawkins to win 4-0 for a 4/10 stake at 1.73 with BetVictor
WON – Back K.Maflin to beat N.Saengkham for a 4/10 stake at 1.91 with William Hill
Back him here: