The third day of the English Open takes place inside the bio-secure setup at the Marshall Arena in Milton Keynes on Wednesday as the remaining 63 players all take to the green baize looking to secure their spot in the last 32.
Big shocks were threatened in the first round of the tournament but they never really materialised. It will be interesting to see if the household names offer up some better form or whether they finally meet their match.
The tables are full in the morning session and we have possibly the best match of the day on the TV table when Ding Junhui meets the Championship League winner Luca Brecel in a cracking looking clash. The streamed table also has a leading Chinese player on it as Yan Bingtao takes on Steven Hallworth who had a good win over Martin Gould in the first round. There is another top Chinese player on show on the outside tables too when Liang Wenbo meets Martin O’Donnell. Jamie Clarke’s reward for beating Ali Carter is a clash with Liam Highfield while David Grace meets Andy Hicks. Andrew Higginson faces Sunny Akani and Farakh Ajaib plays Zhou Yuelong. The other match sees Joe O’Connor taking on Rory McLeod.
Two other matches have been saved in case the TV tables need a second match. The pick of them sees Tom Ford in action when the Leicester potter goes up against a Jamie Jones who is looking to make the most of his return to the tour. Another Welshman is also in action in this slot when Matthew Stevens plays his second round contest. He meets Zhao Jianbo who will be looking for his second Welsh scalp having beaten Michael White in the previous round.
There are two sets of matches on the main tables on Wednesday afternoon with the televised offering seeing Neil Robertson looking to continue his progress. He takes on a Mark Joyce who tends to deliver his best against the big names. Kyren Wilson will be on the streamed table when he meets the Chinese teenager Gao Yang. The other two matches in this slot sees Nigel Bond meeting Alexander Ursenbacher and Xu Si taking on Matthew Selt.
The second TV match in the afternoon session sees Judd Trump looking to make the most of his second life when he goes up against Yuan Sijun while over on the streamed table Mark Allen will be up against Robbie Williams. The other two matches in this slot sees Jimmy Robertson meeting Luo Honghao and Ben Hancorn facing the tough test of Thepchaiya Un-Nooh.
There are a bunch of other matches being saved as third games. Stuart Bingham will face Ben Woollaston on the TV table if a third game is needed on there while Jack Lisowski will meet Jak Jones on the streamed table. The remaining matches sees Gary Wilson facing Ricky Walden. Joe Perry taking on Hossein Vafaei and Allan Taylor plays Simon Lichtenberg.
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It is all about the world champions in the evening session as the current holder of that title is first up on the TV table when Ronnie O’Sullivan takes on a rejuvenated looking Ryan Day while over on the streamed table Mark Selby will meet the impressive Chinese youngster Chang Bingyu. The other two matches in the first part of the evening sees Kurt Maflin facing Jordan Brown and Barry Hawkins going up against Lei Peifan.
The TV match in the second half of the evening session sees Shaun Murphy looking to continue his bright start to the season when he takes on David Lilley while over on the streamed table John Higgins will look to continue his progress when he faces the amateur player Connor Benzey. The other two matches see Michael Holt meeting Lu Ning and Zhao Xintong facing Mark Davis.
I’ll go with a couple of bets over the course of the day on Wednesday with both of them coming in the afternoon. The first one sees Alexander Ursenbacher up against Nigel Bond in a match where I fancy the improving Swiss youngster to come out on top and not only to do that but to cover a 1.5 frame handicap. Usenbacher is clearly still inspired by his run through to the World Championship as he has come out of his Championship League group and made it past Graeme Dott in the first round here. Nigel Bond did well to edge out Ashley Hugill in the first round here but he’ll need to up his game to come through this one against an opponent on the up. In these matches of age against youth I always like the scorer and that is Ursenbacher. I think he can cover the handicap here.
The second bet I like comes in the shape of Hossein Vafaei, a player who I always think is well suited to the challenge of the Home Nations format. He has a stiff task against Joe Perry but not one that he can’t overcome. Vafaei has won their last two matches so he will have a good deal of confidence in this match off the back of that and given that Perry hasn’t really got going this season he looks there for the taking. Perry doesn’t really convince me in the Home Nations events and that is evidenced in the 16 tournaments he has played he has only been past the last 16 once and only reached that stage another two times. This format is much more up Vafaei’s street and I fancy him to cause something of an upset here.
WON – Back A.Ursenbacher (-1.5 frames) to beat N.Bond for a 3/10 stake at 2.10 with Coral
WON – Back H.Vafaei to beat J.Perry for a 3/10 stake at 2.50 with William Hill
Back him here: