We have a busy Friday at the World Grand Prix inside the Centaur Building at the Cheltenham Racecourse as the quarter finals conclude and the first semi-final takes place across what should be two excellent sessions of snooker.
It would be fair to say that the quality on the main table on Thursday left plenty to be desired but that shouldn’t be the case over the three matches on the card on Friday. Four huge names grace the stage over the course of the day.
Mark Selby vs Judd Trump
The main table quarter final on Friday sees the world number one Mark Selby taking on the winner in Northern Ireland and The Masters in Judd Trump in a last eight clash for the second time in as many months. The pair met at Alexandra Palace last month when Trump ran out a 6-2 winner.
I predicted that Trump would win that match and I think he will win this one as well. While he hasn’t played to quite the same standard that he did when he won in London last month, Trump has played well enough this week whereas it all just looks a bit of a struggle for Selby at the minute. He’s too good for it not to turn around at some point but I don’t think that will happen here against this opponent.
Kyren Wilson vs Barry Hawkins
On the second table while that above clash is going on, two seasoned campaigners at this stage of big tournaments will go at it when German Masters champion Kyren Wilson takes on a Barry Hawkins who has won this event before.
It needs someone better than me to know how Wilson is still in this tournament. He was utterly useless against Matthew Stevens in the first round yet somehow escaped from 3-0 down to win 4-3 and then he was no better against Stuart Bingham on Thursday but won that 4-0. I fully expect his run to come to an abrupt halt here however.
Hawkins has looked in pristine form so far this week banging in a couple of tons in his first round win over Ryan Day and then outscoring Marco Fu in a pretty comprehensive performance against him on Wednesday evening. If he can score like he has so far in the tournament then unless Wilson finds a significant improvement Hawkins wins this.
Ali Carter vs Xiao Guodong
The first semi-final takes place over the best of 11 frames in the evening session when Ali Carter goes up against Xiao Guodong for a place in the final of the tournament on Sunday. Not only would they play for a place in the final here but the winner of this match should find his way to Preston for the next event in the Coral Series.
Both men look to be in good touch this week. Carter has beaten Mark Allen, admittedly in controversial circumstances, and Dave Gilbert while Guodong has put paid to Neil Robertson and the exciting Yuan Sijun so far in the tournament and you get the feeling both men will give this a real good go with the possibility of making a ranking final. Carter hasn’t been in a ranking final since the German Masters two years ago while Guodong’s last one away from the Shootout was the 2013 Shanghai Masters.
This is a big match for both men, so I don’t expect either to let it slip without a real fight. Guodong wasn’t at his best in the quarter final but he was playing a good mate and that is never easy. He should be much better here. Carter looks up for the fight so I’m expecting more than 9.5 frames in this one before the conclusion.
Back J.Trump to beat M.Selby for a 4/10 stake at 1.83 with Boylesports
Back him here:
Back B.Hawkins to beat K.Wilson for a 4/10 stake at 2.10 with Coral
Back A.Carter vs X.Guodong – Over 9.5 frames for a 4/10 stake at 2.20 with William Hill
Back it here: