The third day of action at the World Championship sees three matches getting underway and the conclusion of three first round clashes on what has all the makings of a special day behind closed doors inside the Crucible Theatre in Sheffield.
Sunday is a day where we see the box office star Ronnie O’Sullivan beginning his quest for a sixth world title. He heads a schedule that has no fewer than three former winners of this tournament as well as a previous finalist.
I’m sure everyone knows the format by now but for those who are unsure of it, it is long course snooker all the way over this 17 day marathon. The first round is the best-of-19 frames which goes up to the best-of-25 for the second round and the quarter finals. The semi-finals at the best-of-33 frames and then the four session final will see a champion crowned on the third Saturday and Sunday over the best-of-35 frames.
It was an excellent day of snooker on Saturday as three matches were completed, all of which were different. Stuart Bingham survived a comeback from Ashley Carty to beat him 10-7 while the match between Ding Junhui and Mark King went right to a decider. Mark Williams round out as the third winner on the day when he beat Alan McManus 10-5 courtesy of winning all six frames in the session. In the two matches that were not completed Dave Gilbert trails Kurt Maflin 5-4 and John Higgins has a 5-3 lead over Matthew Stevens ahead of their final sessions on Sunday.
In Play Betting
There are two matches that are currently in play heading into Sunday’s play. They are the ones between Dave Gilbert and Kurt Maflin and the match between John Higgins and Matthew Stevens. We had a winner in the in play betting on Saturday but I’ll keep my powder dry on Sunday as I have bets running on both matches already. One of them looks in good shape and the other not so but we won with a bet that wasn’t looking good heading into Saturday so hopefully they will both land and keep our good start to the season going.
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Neil Robertson vs Liang Wenbo (Sunday 10am & 7pm)
Two matches begin in the morning session with the bulk of the attention likely to be the one on table two where Neil Robertson meets his dangerous stablemate Liang Wenbo for a place in the second round in what is a repeat of the 2015 UK Championship final which the Australian won.
Robertson has been touted as one of the leading runners in this tournament and he’ll be out to prove his credentials against a player who might play into his strengths, but to be fair to Wenbo he looked good in qualifying which backed up a decent performance at the Championship League. I’d expect Robertson to win the match but I’ll watch a session before deciding whether to get involved in the match winner market.
I will get involved in the centuries for this match though. The line is 2.5 which is only 4/7 but there is a match later in the day with the same bet at the same price which we can double it up with to get a solid bet at a good price. Robertson is a ton machine but Wenbo was scoring for fun at the Championship League and banged in a 141 in his last frame of qualifying. Both these players are known for scoring and in what is basically a glorified practice session I expect more than 2.5 tons here.
Yan Bingtao vs Elliot Slessor (Sunday 10am & Monday 2.30pm)
The match on table one that gets underway on Sunday morning sees the Chinese number two Yan Bingtao look to showcase his talents when he goes up against the debutant Elliot Slessor. Judd Trump awaits the winner of this one in the second round.
Bingtao was in decent form when the lockdown arrived but has only played one competitive match since then which he lost to Mark Selby at the Tour Championship. That isn’t ideal I don’t think. Slessor played the Championship League and qualifying for this so he should be a lot sharper and that could make a difference. It might not be the worst thing for a debutant to not have a crowd either so I respect Slessor in this one, but I’d like to see the first session before getting involved.
Ronnie O’Sullivan vs Thepchaiya Un-Nooh (Sunday 2.30pm & Monday 10am)
The tie of the first round is the last match to get underway on Sunday when Ronnie O’Sullivan takes on Thepchaiya Un-Nooh with us now knowing that it will be Ding Junhui who awaits the winner of the contest in the second round of the tournament later in the week.
It would be wise not to blink when these two are in action because they are the quickest pair on tour so this one isn’t going to last long regardless of how many frames it has. Un-Nooh gave Trump problems here in the past and he is clearly playing well judging by the emphatic nature of his qualifying efforts whereas we don’t really know how Ronnie is playing as we’ve not seen him since the Championship League when he didn’t have his best.
Once again this is going to be little more than a glorified practice session so I’m expecting the centuries to flow here. We’ve got two of the best scorers in the game on show here and there isn’t going to be much safety played throughout the contest. The over 2.5 centuries price is on the skinny side but it should land so I’ll double it up with the Robertson game for a decent combined bet.
Back N.Robertson vs L.Wenbo & R.O’Sullivan vs T.Un-Nooh – Both Over 2.5 centuries for a 3/10 stake at 2.53 with Bet365