The second match of The Masters comes along in the evening session on Sunday at Alexandra Palace as a former winner of the title takes on the player who could be described as a ‘lucky loser’ as Mark Selby faces Ali Carter.
Selby has previously won this title on three occasions and has already scooped two titles this season while Carter has never once gone beyond the quarter final here and will be looking to reach that stage for just the third time in this match.
The obituaries were being written on the career of Mark Selby not so long ago, but two titles in the Home Nations this season have got him back on track and while he hasn’t landed one of the Triple Crown events for a while, he arrives at Alexandra Palace as a huge danger to go all the way, with his career back on track and his confidence seemingly improving all the time as a result. It would be a surprise if he doesn’t threaten a fourth Masters crown this week.
Selby has a wonderful record in this event having won it three times but he hasn’t won the title since 2013 and he hasn’t been past the quarter final in any of his last five visits here, so he might feel there is a point to prove. We do know that the ‘Jester’ generally really ups his game in one table situations and venues and that is exactly what he gets right from the off here. Having won the last one table setup match of the old decade he’ll be looking to start off the new one in fine style.
I would imagine Ali Carter is viewing this as a free hit because ranked 17 in the world he wasn’t due to be here, however when Ronnie O’Sullivan pulled out of the event his wishes came true and he will now look to take full advantage of the opportunity given to him. The problem Carter has is that his form in the first half of this campaign hasn’t been the best, and as a result he hasn’t been past the last 32 of an event all season.
If that wasn’t bad enough, he has been to this tournament 12 times in the past and he has only made it to the quarter final twice and never any further than that. He does have a couple of wildcard round victories from when that stage was in the tournament so he has four match wins in 12 years. It isn’t really a record that is going to inspire a lot of confidence it has to be said and as such it would be a surprise if he is at his best here.
Head to Head
If Ali Carter was hoping to get any hope from the head to head between the two men he is once again mistaken as Selby leads 19-12 on that score with the one draw. The story is painted in a similar light in the frames won between the two as well as Selby leads on that count by 112 to 94. In all the tournaments these two have met in, they’ve never met at The Masters, so history does Carter no harm in that regard, but from whichever angle you look at it from the Essex man is up against it here.
It is hard to see anything other than a Mark Selby win here and in truth it is difficult to see how Ali Carter stays close. Other than the fact he has nothing to lose and is on a bit of a freeroll here, I’m not sure what Carter has going for him. His form this season has been little out of the ordinary and I’ve already highlighted that his record in this tournament is little short of pathetic so I’m expecting a comfortable victory for Selby.
This match is all about Selby in many ways. If he plays well he should win at a canter but even if he doesn’t play so well we know he is capable of winning matches without his best form, and the chances are he’ll still win with a bit in hand. There is too much going for Selby in this match so the natural thing to do is to back the former champion to cover a 2.5 frame start with him winning no worse than 6-3 the requirement on those grounds.
Back M.Selby (-2.5 frames) to beat A.Carter for a 4/10 stake at 2.20 with 888sport