We are down to the semi-finals of the Welsh Open with both matches taking place across the two sessions of action on Saturday as we find out which two men will contest the final of the last Home Nations event of the season at Celtic Manor on Sunday.
The format increases once again for these games and we are up to the best of 11 frames so we should really see the quality come to the fore, in what the bookmakers believe could be a couple of one-sided contests.
Stephen Maguire vs Jordan Brown
The opening semi-final looks like a bit of a mismatch in terms of experience as the former champion Stephen Maguire, a regular at this stage of a ranking event, meets Jordan Brown who is competing at this stage of a big tournament for the first time.
Prior to the quarter final the easy accusation to make for Brown was that he hadn’t played anyone this week and that he had gone deep in the tournament because his draw had opened up but a win over Mark Selby in the last eight ended all that talk. He did his best to lose that match which would be a concern for his chances in this one, but he still managed to get over the line. Maguire had a tougher route to the last eight and then had to really battle to overcome Shaun Murphy when he got there. That was clearly his best performance of the week and he looks like he is approaching his best at the right time.
These two aren’t just playing for a place in the final here, the winner will also get into the Players Championship next week with the chance to then improve their hopes of making the Tour Championship so there is a lot on this match and I think Maguire is in a better place to deal with that. Brown came past Selby and you can’t hold that against him but I’ve never seen Selby play as bad and even then Brown almost handed it to him. If Maguire gets those chances, and with the nerves and the fact Brown hasn’t been on the main table this week I expect he will, I fancy the Scot to make a much better fist of getting rid of the Northern Irishman. Maguire sounded positive in his interview after the win over Murphy and I think he wins this.
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Mark Williams vs Ronnie O’Sullivan
The marquee semi-final is the evening encounter where two greats of the game collide in a match where the ‘Class of 92’ references is likely to spiral out of control as Mark Williams goes up against Ronnie O’Sullivan in a battle of the ages.
Williams has looked much better in this tournament. He has played with a fluency and gone for his shots in a way that he did when he won his third world title a few years ago. He has also ridden his luck though, both with a few timely flukes against Hossein Vafaei in the last 16 and with Tom Ford butchering a massive chance to knock him out in the quarter final. That might only make the Welshman more dangerous here. O’Sullivan has been the player of the tournament so far and Williams might be hoping that the Rocket not having to play his quarter final has made him a little rusty although I suspect that will be something of a forlorn hope.
I think Williams will keep O’Sullivan honest in this match but whether he can win it remains to be seen. I think it will be close enough for over 6.5 50+ breaks to land at a nice price though. Williams has scored well throughout the event and he won’t be backing down now while O’Sullivan has scored imperiously. These two know how to make big breaks and I think they will raise the game of each other as well. I’m happy to take over 6.5 50s to come along in this one.
Back S.Maguire (-2.25AH Frames) to beat J.Brown for a 3/10 stake at 1.87 with Bet365
Back M.Williams vs R.O’Sullivan – Over 6.5 50+ breaks for a 3/10 stake at 2.10 with Betfair
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