It is quarter final day at the Welsh Open on Friday with all four matches being played over two sessions of play as we have become accustomed to during the Home Nations series. Eight players will become four inside the Celtic Manor Resort in Newport.
Often at this stage of a Home Nations event we are used to having had plenty of shocks and big names fall by the wayside but there are actually five members of the top 16 on show in these quarter finals as well as a couple of others who are regulars at this stage of an event.
Shaun Murphy vs Stephen Maguire
The opening quarter final of the day on the main TV table will see two rivals going at it when Shaun Murphy takes on Stephen Maguire in a match which pits the defending champion up against the Tour Championship winner with a possible spot in the Players Championship next week on the line.
Murphy has looked in superb form this week, cueing like a dream and scoring heavily as a result while Maguire hasn’t looked quite as appealing on the eye or caught the eye but he has been very solid and is clearly enjoying being away from Milton Keynes, where he previously admitted things were starting to get to him. These two have history which we don’t need to touch on here but I sense Murphy is in the better gear right now but he’s no more than a fair price so I’ll leave this one alone.
Mark Selby vs Jordan Brown
Over on the second table while the main game is going on, the former world champion Mark Selby will take on the surprise package of the week so far in Jordan Brown who will be looking to reach a ranking event semi-final for the first time in his career.
Brown is appearing in his second quarter final since the turn of the year but he’ll be hoping this one goes better than the last when he lost 5-1 to Barry Hawkins in the German Masters. On the face of it this looks an equally as tough task if not tougher because not only is Selby one of the very best in the world but he is in decent form from both a tactical standpoint and a scoring one, and in Yan Bingtao he has already brushed off a top level challenger. If there is one thing that might help Brown it is that this is on table two rather than the lightning fast conditions of the main table but Selby played on this table against Bingtao so even that isn’t much of a help. The handicap here is between 2.5 and 3.5 frames which is fair enough but is also enough to put me off getting involved.
Ali Carter vs Ronnie O’Sullivan
Two form players meet on the main table after Murphy and Maguire are finished when Ali Carter renews his rivalry with Ronnie O’Sullivan with plenty no doubt likely to be made of ‘shoulder barge gate’ from their World Championship meeting back in 2018.
The pair have met three times since then, all in the last three months or so, and O’Sullivan has won the lot despite not being near his best on those occasions. He looks much more at it here though having come through his four matches for the loss of just the one frame. Carter has been on the baize for much longer than his rival here but 4-3 wins over John Higgins and Mark Allen show that he has got plenty of poise about him this week to go with the quality that he showed during the Championship League last week. Somewhere deep down I suspect Carter might win the three frames to cover the handicap but it is hard to take O’Sullivan on based on what he has shown us this week.
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Mark Williams vs Tom Ford
The last of the quarter finals will be the one the home nation is most interested in as their star Mark Williams takes on a player looking to make it through to a second ranking event semi-final in as many months in the form of Tom Ford.
Williams has offered up this carefree attitude and going for his shots with fluency this week and it has served him well but he hasn’t always played his best stuff. He has come through the draw relatively comfortably but he had a very nice run of the ball in the previous round against Hossein Vafaei. Ford has come through a couple of deciding frames in the last two rounds, both against top 16 opponents, so he very much deserves his place in this quarter final and in Kyren Wilson and Jack LIsowski you could easily argue that Ford beat two men in better nick than Williams.
Initially I was surprised at the odds for this quarter final which sees Ford a heavy outsider at 6/4 when he is clearly playing some nice stuff at the minute, but he does trail Williams 11-1 in their previous meetings. They did go to a deciding frame in the Championship League last week which might suggest we are in for a closer quarter final than the odds suggest. The fact that Ford has twice put on a bunch of 50 breaks from 3-1 down this week to win 4-3 tells me he has an inner confidence in his game and the fact Williams hasn’t really been in a battle thus far makes me think Ford is overpriced at 6/4.
Back T.Ford to beat M.Williams for a 3/10 stake at 2.50 with Betfair
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