The Welsh Open has reached the quarter final stage, with all four matches being played out across two tantalising sessions of action that will keep snooker lovers entertained throughout the entirety of Valentine’s Day at the Motorpoint Arena in Cardiff.
The eight remaining players in the tournament are all in the top 20 in the world rankings, so we are set for a wonderful conclusion to the final Home Nations event of the season, beginning with four great matches on Friday.
Mark Selby vs Ronnie O’Sullivan
The action kicks off with the match of the day as two heavyweights collide when Mark Selby faces Ronnie O’Sullivan in the quarter final in the second Home Nations event in succession. Selby won 5-4 in the Scottish Open earlier in the campaign and will be out to repeat that here.
Both men have come through the draw in decent enough style. There have been vulnerabilities but there always will be that for the big names in these best of seven matches. Now that the format has increased the cream will rise to the top. I’m on Selby outright so I’m hoping he can do the business here and fancy that his extra tournament sharpness will see him good here but these are two gladiators of the sport and I don’t expect either to come through this with much to spare. Their last two meetings went to a deciding frame and I expect this one to have more than 7.5 if not the full nine.
Neil Robertson vs Kyren Wilson
The second quarter final of the afternoon sees the defending champion Neil Robertson taking on Kyren Wilson for the second week in succession. The pair met in the semi-final of the World Grand Prix when Robertson ran out a 6-4 winner and it will be interesting to see if this follows the same path.
That was a great match so if this one is even half as good then this will be a cracking encounter to witness. We know Wilson is cueing well this week after he opened up the tournament with a maximum. He also saw off Ding Junhui on Thursday evening and you don’t do that if you are not playing well. Robertson started the week looking quite ordinary but he looks to be back to the man who has dominated for the last month or so. I’m still not convinced he can go all the way in this tournament but he can make a game of this. That’s the least I expect Wilson to do so over 7.5 frames at even money fits here as well.
Shaun Murphy vs Judd Trump
The match on the TV table in the evening session is the repeat of the first round of The Masters where Shaun Murphy goes up against the world champion Judd Trump for a place in the semi-final on Saturday.
Murphy came out on top at Alexandra Palace when Trump looked to be in a bit of a dip but it is fair to say that he is out of that now having won the German Masters and is looking good in the main here. I say he is looking good but he was there for the taking against Stephen Maguire on Thursday night. That was the second game of a hectic day though and I think that performance will have disappointed him so I expect him to be bang up for putting it right here. Murphy has played ok this week but he is yet to come across anyone in the top 32 this week let alone the main man. I just don’t think Murphy is scoring well enough to win this and his safety isn’t good enough to keep Trump at bay. Unless Trump has another night of missing easy balls I expect him to cover a two frame Asian handicap line which means that a 5-2 win or easier for Trump is a win and we get our money back on a 5-3. Any closer than that tells me Trump won’t be playing well so he won’t win anyway. I’ll take Trump to cover in a one-sided game.
Yan Bingtao vs John Higgins
As always in these Home Nations events there is one match on the streamed table in the evening session and it sees the Riga Masters champion Yan Bingtao going up against the most successful player in the history of this tournament in John Higgins.
Bingtao is the only man left in the tournament who isn’t a member of the top 10 in the world but he isn’t far away from that to be fair. He’s up against it here though you would think. Higgins has the ideal game for these Chinese youngsters and he’s playing in a venue and a country where his record stands the test of time. Higgins had two good wins on Thursday against Xiao Guodong and Luca Brecel and I expect him to win here but Bingtao has had success against the Scot, and this being away from the main spotlight might just suit the Chinese star. Hopefully Bingtao makes this a good game but nothing jumps out at me betting wise.
Back M.Selby vs R.O’Sullivan – Over 7.5 frames for a 4/10 stake at 2.00 with William Hill
Back N.Robertson vs K.Wilson – Over 7.5 frames for a 4/10 stake at 2.00 with William Hill
Back them here:
Back J.Trump (-2AH) to beat S.Murphy for a 4/10 stake at 1.90 with Bet365