The second week of the World Championship gets underway inside the Crucible Theatre on Friday and it does so with some excellent matches already in progress and a couple of other second round encounters setting out on their journey.
We have seen some brilliant snooker in the second round of the tournament already and the way the matches that are ongoing are poised and the quality that is standing out on Friday, we are sure to get more fantastic action which is full of drama.
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.
We only saw the conclusion to one match on Thursday but it was a brilliant match as Kurt Maflin came out on top of John Higgins 13-11 but the undoubted highlight of it was a 147 break but ultimately they didn’t do him a lot of good. Three other matches either started or continued and they saw Yan Bingtao take a 5-3 lead over Judd Trump while Mark Williams and Stuart Bingham are locked at 8-8 after their second session. Mark Selby and Noppon Saengkham are tied by the same score.
In Play Betting
There are two matches that are wonderfully poised that both conclude on Friday. The one between Mark Williams and Stuart Bingham probably has the prices right so I’ll continue to hope that Bingham gets the job done for the quarter bet I’ve taken on him, but the other match offers up much more interest as Mark Selby and Noppon Saengkham resume to a finish in the afternoon session.
I’ve got to think that we are in for a cracking final session here. The odds seem to suggest that Selby will pull clear from here but I’m not convinced that he is playing well enough to do that. There is a genuine case to be made that Saengkham is playing the better snooker in the match and now it is all about whether he holds his nerve to get the job done. I’m not convinced that he will but I expect him to stay on the front foot early on in the session to see us beyond 23.5 frames. For this to lose one of them needs to win this final session 5-2 or better and that doesn’t feel likely to happen to me. I’ll play the over 23.5 at even money so 13-11 or 13-12 either way gets the job done.
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Anthony McGill vs Jamie Clarke (Friday 2.30pm, Saturday 2.30pm & Sunday 7pm)
One of the longest matches of the tournament in terms of time it starts and when it is scheduled to finish sees two qualifiers battling it out for the right to face another who came through the pre-tournament event to make it here with a semi-final spot on the line for one of the three. Anthony McGill and Jamie Clarke battle it out for the right to face Kurt Maflin in the quarter final.
Given the prize at stake for someone in this quarter now you’ve got to think we are going to see some tight, tense and nervy snooker over the next few days and that is exactly what I expect here. Both men have shown they can hold their nerve against top class opponents coming back at them so this just feels like a real dogfight over three tense days of action. I’m hoping that McGill comes through here with all the bets I have staked on him but I don’t see either winning this any easier than 13-9. I’ll take over 21.5 frames here.
Ding Junhui vs Ronnie O’Sullivan (Friday 7om, Saturday 2.30pm & Sunday 7pm)
The tie of the second round is the last one to start on Friday when arguably the greatest player never to have won this tournament takes on possible the best player who has won it as Ding Junhui meets Ronnie O’Sullivan in an extremely appealing clash.
If Ding turns up for this match, which he hasn’t always done against O’Sullivan although has done in more recent times, then this is entitled to be an absolute classic. O’Sullivan showed in the first round that these conditions are right up his street but he was given no test at all by Thepchaiya Un-Nooh so if Ding can lay it down to him in the first session we might find out just what the Rocket has to offer in this event. Ding wasn’t great in the first round but given how long it has been since he last played, that was to be expected. I’m going to take a watching brief for the first session but I’m hoping that Ding comes out playing well as that should set up plenty of opportunities for bets ahead of the last two sessions.
WON – Back M.Selby vs N.Saengkham – Over 23.5 frames for a 3/10 stake at 2.00 with Betfair
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WON – Back A.McGill vs J.Clarke – Over 21.5 frames for a 3/10 stake at 1.91 with William Hill
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