As is always the case with a Home Nations event, it is a busy fourth day of action at the Welsh Open as the third and the fourth rounds of the tournament take place inside the Motorpoint Arena down in Cardiff as the competition cranks up a notch on Thursday.
Wednesday saw some high profile casualties with Shaun Murphy, Mark Williams, Judd Trump and Kyren Wilson all exiting the event which will put the big names on edge on Thursday. As ever time restrictions will deny us the chance of previewed the last 16 in the evening but we can get stuck into the last 32.
The arena is full in the morning session on Thursday, with Ding Junhui gracing the main table when he goes up against a Joe Perry who has lived a charmed life this week already coming through a pair of deciding frames. Jack Lisowski takes to the stage on the streamed table when he goes up against the competent but lowly ranked Sam Craigie.
The two remaining Welshmen will be on outside tables in this morning session. Jak Jones takes on Joe O’Connor and Duane Jones will look to build on his fine win over Judd Trump in the previous round when he meets Robbie Williams. European Masters champion Jimmy Robertson faces the talented Zhao Xintong with Lukas Kleckers meeting Hossein Vafaei. Scott Donaldson goes up against James Cahill in a good opportunity for both men and the other match in the morning sees Mike Dunn facing Kurt Maflin.
It is all about Ronnie O’Sullivan first up in the afternoon session. The Rocket once again dons the TV table when he goes up against the Swiss number one Alexander Ursenbacher. The streamed table match hasn’t been determined yet but form wise it could be the match between Stuart Bingham and Martin O’Donnell.
That would mean some big names are on show on the outside tables with Mark Allen up against Ian Burns and Barry Hawkins taking on Michael Georgiou. Neil Robertson will be looking to continue his good form against Paul Davison and Elliot Slessor will take on the man who beat the world champion in the last round in Zhang Anda.
There are two matches saved for the two main tables to formulate two TV matches in the afternoon. On one of them John Higgins will continue his title defence when he takes on Craig Steadman while on the other table world number one Mark Selby faces Noppon Saengkham for the second tournament in succession.
Michael Georgiou has looked in fantastic form in this tournament. Where his form has come from I’m not sure but he has scored really well and has only dropped one frame to date in this competition. He goes up in class in terms of opposition to take on Barry Hawkins in this match but I think he is primed to give the Hawk a decent battle here. Whether he wins the match or not I don’t know but he can certainly trouble Hawkins. Hawkins is the better player without doubt but he’s under all the pressure here having not had the best of time of it in the UK this season. I fancy the Cypriot to win a couple of frames in this one.
Elliot Slessor had a decent win in the second round on Wednesday when he thrashed Tom Ford 4-0 and I fancy he could be overpriced to take care of Zhang Anda in the third round. The Chinese player took care of Mark Williams on Wednesday night which was a good effort but Williams handed him the match with some poor shots. Slessor has a decent enough record in Home Nations events with two of his three runs beyond this round in ranking events coming in previous stagings of this series. Zhang’s ranking shows that consistency is not a strong point because he has got all the tools to go well in the game. That lack of consistency can be exploited by Slessor here.
WON – Back M.Georgiou (+2.5 frames) to beat B.Hawkins for a 4/10 stake at 1.73 with BetVictor
WON – Back E.Slessor to beat Z.Anda for a 4/10 stake at 2.25 with Coral