We move into the last 32 of the UK Championship on Monday and with the remainder of the tournament inside the main arena at the Barbican Centre in York, there is a feel that the event truly begins here.
Most of the top names are through to this stage and given the nature of the draw this is the first time that players in the top 32 can play each other and there are some decent matches on the schedule as a result.
Judd Trump will continue his quest for the entire Triple Crown collection to be in his belongings at the same time when he headlines the afternoon session after two easy wins in the competition thus far. He faces the former world finalist Nigel Bond who is capable enough of keeping him honest. The other televised game in this afternoon session sees the Champion of Champions winner Neil Robertson looking to make progress at the expense of Mark King.
The other two tables has a couple of good matches on them as well. The former world champion Stuart Bingham is on one of them and he’ll go up against the classy Chinese youngster Zhao Xintong, who make no mistake about it is a serious challenge to him. The other match sees Li Hang going up against a Marco Fu who just quietly looks to be coming back to something resembling his best form after a period of struggle.
John Higgins is the main star on show on Monday evening as he looks to take a step closer to winning this title once again. After losing just one frame to this stage, the Scot will be a warm favourite when he goes up against the lowly ranked Ian Burns, who is turning his season around with his run here. Mark Allen is the main man on the other TV table. He will continue his quest for a second Triple Crown title when he takes on Ben Woollaston for a place in the last 16.
The other two matches in this session are intriguing in their own right. They see the former winner Matthew Stevens taking on the experienced and in form Anthony Hamilton while on the other table the man who took out Barry Hawkins in the last round, Alan McManus, meets a Kurt Maflin who is continuing an excellent first-half of the season with his run in this tournament.
This is a tricky little card with a number of one sided matches in terms of the odds but none of the outsiders really inspiring me into a bet on the handicap so I’m keeping bets at a premium after a couple of winners on Sunday to get me back closer to being level for the tournament after an indifferent beginning to the competition. I’ll go with just the one bet over the course of Monday.
I mentioned when I previewed the action on Saturday that Marco Fu is beginning to score like we know he can again and that is always a telling sign of his form and how he is feeling. He backed up my words with another six breaks over 50 in his win over Kyren Wilson and I expect him to have enough to beat Li Hang on Monday afternoon. Hang is a dogged and determined character but a trait of his career so far is that whenever he comes up against the really good players he gets found out. Fu is very much one of those in current form so even at 8/11 I’m happy to get on him here.
Back M.Fu to beat L.Hang for a 4/10 stake at 1.73 with Boylesports
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