It is what they call ‘Moving Day’ at the English Open on Thursday when the last 32 and the last 16 are played out on what will be a busy day for those who progress to the quarter finals inside the Marshall Arena in Milton Keynes.
In the man the big names have all made it through although we did lose Mark Allen and Shaun Murphy among others on Wednesday. That means we’re set up for some good matches on Thursday. As always time restrictions will deny us the chance to preview the last 16 but we’ll get stuck into the last 32.
All the tables will be in use in the morning session and there are two particularly good looking matches on the two main tables. The TV table will have the European Masters winner Mark Selby on show. He meets a former winner of this English Open title in Liang Wenbo. It is also China against Leicester on the streamed table as well as the reigning UK champion Ding Junhui takes on Tom Ford in what could be the pick of the third round matches.
There are some decent looking matches on the outside tables on Thursday morning as well. One of those sees Hossein Vafaei taking on Jamie Clarke while Robbie Williams meets Kurt Maflin in another. Anthony McGill finally has to get his cue out in this tournament on Thursday having had a couple of byes to this point. He meets Steven Hallworth while Barry Hawkins takes on Joe O’Connor. Alexander Ursenbacher faces Ben Woollaston and the other match sees Kyren Wilson going up against Xu Si.
The world number one is the man up first on the TV table in the afternoon as Judd Trump looks to find an easier way through to the last 16 than he has managed so far. He meets Michael Holt while on the streamed table John Higgins goes up against Jimmy Robertson. Four outside tables are in use as well with David Grace facing Andrew Higginson, Zhou Yuelong taking on David Lilley, Allan Taylor meeting Gary Wilson and Ben Hancorn playing Jak Jones in a match that presents a huge opportunity for both players.
Two matches have been saved for second games on the TV and streamed tables to form a full afternoon of TV coverage. On the main table the world champion Ronnie O’Sullivan will be the centre of attention when he takes on Matthew Stevens while over on the streamed table Neil Robertson will be looking to book a last 16 spot. In order to do that the Australian will have to overcome the veteran player Mark Davis.
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I’ll go with a couple of bets on Thursday in the last 32 with the first one actually taking on a man who was good for us on Wednesday in Hossein Vafaei. He plays Jamie Clarke who had a good win over Liam Highfield on Wednesday and banged in a ton and two 90s in the process. Having backed Vafaei to beat Joe Perry I naturally watched all of that match and apart from a 136 break the Iranian didn’t really score all that well. I marked Clarke down as one to watch this season after his World Championship run and he hasn’t disappointed me so far. He has beaten Ali Carter in the first round here and looks a shade big to come through this one.
The other bet I like comes in the afternoon where I fancy Andrew Higginson to get the better of David Grace. Although he didn’t get the results in the Championship League last month, I noted that Higginson looked to be speeding up a bit and was break building much better as a result and I’ve a feeling that a more positive approach will yield dividends for Higginson this term. He had a good win over Sunny Akani on Wednesday where he scored very well from 3-1 down and will fancy his chances here. Grace has done well to make it to this stage but we have to accept that the draw has been very kind to him. Higginson will be the best player he has faced so far in the tournament and I expect him to be found out here. It is Higginson for me.
Back J.Clarke to beat H.Vafaei for a 3/10 stake at 2.05 with Betfair
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WON – Back A.Higginson to beat D.Grace for a 3/10 stake at 1.85 with 888sport
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