The last three first round matches begin in the World Championship inside the Crucible Theatre in Sheffield on Wednesday on another tantalising day of snooker action at the spiritual home of the sport.
The cast list on Wednesday is about as good as it gets with no fewer than four world champions on show as well as a couple of classy challengers and that should guarantee that we get three excellent sessions of snooker.
Day 4 Recap
Three matches concluded on Tuesday with the first man through being Jack Lisowski. He came from 9-8 down to dump out Ali Carter in the first of two deciding frames over the course of the day. Later in the day Mark Allen cruised past Lyu Haotian, who to be fair wasn’t at the races, 10-2. The last player to make it through was Stuart Bingham who saw off Ding Junhui in a decider of a brilliant match. Two matches started out but didn’t finish on Tuesday. They saw Judd Trump take a 7-2 lead over Liam Highfield and Barry Hawkins move 6-3 clear of Matt Selt.
In Play Betting
Those two matches form the options for in play betting. I’m not interested in getting involved in the Trump match. I wouldn’t be surprised if he pushes on and wins 10-2 from here but Highfield had chances to be a lot closer but whether his state of mind will be strong enough to close the gap remains to be seen. I would however have got involved in the other one if I wasn’t already so heavily involved in it. That sees Mat Selt trailing Barry Hawkins 6-3 but I’m not convinced that one is over. Selt could legitimately have led 7-2 such was the chances he had and Hawkins is a terrible front-runner. I’m involved in Selt for the quarter and outright and the centuries on the match so I don’t want to tie more money up in it for Selt to lose composure and kill me again but the over in frames still has every chance of landing.
OPEN AN ACCOUNT WITH 888SPORT AND BET £10 TO GET £30 IN FREE BETS PLUS A £10 CASINO BONUS! PERFECT OFFER TO USE ON THIS TOURNAMENT! CLICK THE IMAGE BELOW TO JOIN. USE CODE 30F. NEW ACCOUNTS ONLY. 18+ T&Cs apply (See image for significant terms). Gamble Aware.
Shaun Murphy vs Mark Davis (Wednesday 10am & Thursday 1pm)
The 2005 world champion Shaun Murphy begins his quest for a second world title against the veteran Mark Davis who continues to qualify for the event and will be looking to do himself justice having done so.
Murphy has had an inconsistent season. There have been factors in play for that and they have to be acknowledged but that is still a concern because Murphy arrived here last season as the second best player in the world for that campaign and got thumped in the first round. I’m not convinced we’ll see the best of Murphy but the question is what sort of form we will see out of Davis. We’ll only really know the answer to that after the first session so I’ll wait and see what that brings before betting on this one.
Mark Williams vs Sam Craigie (Wednesday 10am & Wednesday 7pm)
The second match to get underway in the morning session sees the three-time champion Mark Williams back on the Crucible floor when he takes on the second debutant of the week in the form of Sam Craigie for the right to take on John Higgins in the second round.
Williams has been in excellent form in the lead up to this tournament going right back to his semi-final run at the Welsh Open but he has drawn a talented qualifier in Craigie here. If Craigie settles immediately he has the scoring power and the class to make this a brilliant match to watch. History tells us that debutants don’t settle that quickly though so logic would tell us that Williams will win this one and potentially win it well too. I certainly hope that’s the case as he’s my outright bet and that will do for an initial betting interest here.
Mark Selby vs Kurt Maflin (Wednesday 2.30pm & Thursday 7pm)
The last first round match to get underway sees another three time champion here kick his campaign off when Mark Selby takes on Kurt Maflin, the quarter finalist when this event was last held last summer.
Selby has had a decent enough season and tends to peak for this tournament but often he comes here having warmed up strongly in China but this time he hasn’t played a competitive match of any length for almost a month which could make him a little vulnerable. Maflin looked very good in the qualifiers and he pushed Selby to a deciding frame when these two met in this round six years ago. Maflin looks a better player now whereas it is hard to argue Selby is better, or even as good. That doesn’t equate to Maflin winning this match but I certainly think he goes down fighting if he goes down at all. You physically have to scrape Selby off the table here so I think the odds against on over 15.5 frames is the way forward in this one.
Back M.Selby vs K.Maflin – Over 15.5 frames for a 5/10 stake at 1.80 with Coral