As ever in a Home Nations event the third day of the Welsh Open sees the entire second round of the tournament played out on what is going to be a busy Wednesday inside the Celtic Manor Resort in Newport.
The majority of the big names made it through to the second round of the tournament which means that we have a great schedule on the two main tables as well as a number of household names competing elsewhere in the arena.
The Chinese superstar Ding Junhui gets the honour of being on the main table in the morning session. He goes up against a player who some are touting to be the next big thing from that part of the world in Pang Junxu. Over on the streamed table one of the home favourites will be on show when Matthew Stevens goes up against a Stephen Maguire, who other than the Tour Championship win has flattered to deceive since the first lockdown.
There are plenty of other matches on around the arena in this first session of the day. They see Martin O’Donnell taking on Ken Doherty, Joe O’Connor meeting Andrew Higginson, Gary Wilson taking on Xiao Guodong in what looks a cracking clash, Alexander Ursenbacher meeting Robert Milkins while Jak Jones plays David Grace and Jamie Jones faces Mark King. Two other matches take place in the morning session as Anthony McGill goes up against David Lilley and Barry Hawkins faces Simon Lichtenberg.
One of the big box office matches of all time opens up the show on the main table in the afternoon session as the world champion Ronnie O’Sullivan takes on the living legend Jimmy White in a clash everyone interested in snooker will be keen to watch. The defending champion Shaun Murphy will be on the streamed table when he goes up against Stuart Carrington while the other two matches in the first slate of afternoon games sees Oliver Lines taking on Matt Selt and Ricky Walden facing Graeme Dott.
The second set of matches sees the home favourite Mark Williams on the main table when he takes on Liam Highfield. Over on the streamed table the European Masters and Scottish Open winner Mark Selby going up against Jamie O’Neill. There are three other matches with Jordan Brown facing Sam Craigie, Zhao Xintong going up against Hossein Vafaei and the form horse Ali Carter meeting the Irish youngster Aaron Hill.
There is a third set of games on Wednesday afternoon too with Ryan Day on the TV table if a third game is needed. He meets the veteran Mark Davis while over on the streamed table Sunny Akani will face Jack Lisowski. The other two matches taking place around the arena will see The Masters champion Yan Bingtao facing the French amateur player Brian Ochoiski and Elliot Slessor going up against Tom Ford.
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It is the world number one Judd Trump who takes to the baize in the first game of the evening when he meets another of the Chinese young brigade Si Jiahui while over on the streamed table Mark Allen will be looking to make progress when he takes on Nigel Bond. Elsewhere, Joe Perry meets Dylan Emery, Jamie Wilson takes on the classy Dave Gilbert and two ranking event champions collide as Jimmy Robertson goes up against Martin Gould.
The second live match on the TV table sees John Higgins on show. He goes up against Ben Woollaston for a place in Thursday’s action while the streamed table will see Kyren Wilson looking to get the better of the veteran Alan McManus who had a good win in the first round. Two other matches take place to round off the day on the outside tables when Zhou Yuelong meets Anthony Hamilton and Scott Donaldson goes up against Gerard Greene.
I’ll take a couple of bets over the course of the day and they both come in the afternoon session. I’m going to take Graeme Dott on again. I mentioned on Tuesday that Dott has some very indifferent form coming into this week and although he beat Billy Joe Castle, and to be fair knocked in a couple of centuries in doing so, I still don’t think that will necessarily turn his fortunes around. Dott takes on Ricky Walden in the second round on Wednesday and Walden has been playing some nice snooker for a while now and has actually won the last three meetings against Dott, albeit in the Championship League. At odds against, given Dott’s indifferent form going into this event, I think Walden represents good value.
The other player who I think is good value is Liam Highfield. To be fair Highfield didn’t pull up any trees in his win over Jamie Curtis-Barrett in the first round but he might not need to against Mark Williams either. I have long thought that Highfield is better on the bigger stages than he is the outer tables in scrappy affairs. Williams was on show on the main table against Michael White and he was very ordinary, it just so happened that White was absolutely terrible and Williams was able to get over the line but we are talking about a player who has suffered defeats to Peter Devlin, Paul Davison and Dominic Dale this season so Highfield certainly isn’t without a chance here, especially if Williams doesn’t improve. Highfield needs wins to boost his hopes of staying on the tour and this looks like a chance to not only get another win but potentially more in a big week for him. At a decent price he’s worth a flutter.
Back R.Walden to beat G.Dott for a 3/10 stake at 2.10 with William Hill
Back L.Highfield to beat M.Williams for a 3/10 stake at 3.30 with William Hill
Back them here: