The first round of the World Championship concludes and the second round of the biggest tournament on the calendar gets underway on Thursday as the Crucible Theatre continues to stage plenty of drama and excellent snooker.
We still only have two qualifiers through to the second round of the competition and only one more can realistically join them so we’ve got some excellent matches to look forward to from here on in. Thursday sees the title defence of Ronnie O’Sullivan continuing.
Day 5 Recap
We saw victories for all the big names expected to come through over the course of Wednesday. Judd Trump eased past Liam Highfield 10-4 while Mark Williams got the better of Sam Craigie by the same score. Barry Hawkins went one better as he won all four matches when he resumed his match against Matt Selt to cruise into a clash with Kyren Wilson in the second round. Two first round matches are outstanding. Shaun Murphy trails 5-4 in one of them and Mark Selby leads Kurt Maflin 8-1.
In Play Betting
I’ll have my first in play bet of the week here. It isn’t going to come in the match between Mark Selby and Kurt Maflin though. Maflin wasn’t at the races on Wednesday and it’s a case of how long Selby will take to beat him rather than any other question there. The other match though is very interesting and I fancy we might see the third qualifier of the week making it through as I suspect Mark Davis will hang on to his 5-4 advantage and convert it into a victory.
Murphy pulled the gap back to one with an excellent century in the final frame of their opening session but he isn’t the sort of player I want to side with in a battle at the minute and overall I think Davis was the better player on Thursday. He has made four breaks of more than 50 and looks more comfortable in the surroundings than Murphy. If Davis can get off to a good start and get Murphy under pressure we can see that strain affect the 2005 champion, much like when Noppon Saengkham laid it down to him last year. I don’t think Murphy is a certainty to turn this round and I think the odds against on Davis to win with a one frame head start is more than fair here.
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Ronnie O’Sullivan vs Anthony McGill (Thursday 1pm, Friday 10am & Friday 7pm)
The first match in the second round sees the defending champion Ronnie O’Sullivan back on the baize when he faces the man who he should have taken on in the final of this tournament last year in Anthony McGill before the Scot incredibly lost his semi-final to Kyren Wilson.
O’Sullivan wasn’t all that good in the first round until the last three frames of his contest with Mark Joyce and it will be interesting to see what he has here after a five day break. McGill looked very good against Ricky Walden in his opener, better than I expected him to be and if he has that form with him here then O’Sullivan has a battle on his hands for sure. The big question here is does McGill believe he can beat O’Sullivan? If he does I reckon he’s an excellent chance here but I’ll watch the first session and assess the Scot and look to get involved in this one Friday.
Neil Robertson vs Jack Lisowski (Thursday 7pm, Friday 2.30pm & Saturday 10am)
The first of the three day matches of the tournament sees the 2010 winner Neil Robertson taking on Jack Lisowski for the second event in succession after the two clashed in the Tour Championship in Newport last month.
Robertson ran out an easy winner on that occasion and if Lisowski doesn’t tighten his game up there is a good chance that the Australian could do likewise here. My gut feeling is that Lisowski is a perfect opponent for Robertson because he isn’t going to tighten the game up and make it scrappy and he isn’t likely to outscore Robertson even allowing for how good he is. Their last two lengthy matches have ended 11-4 and 10-5 to Robertson and that is a concern for Lisowski fans. Nevertheless, Jack has never played as well as he is now and he has the game to trouble Robertson. This is another match I’ll watch the first session in and assess where we are from there.
Back M.Davis to beat S.Murphy for a 3/10 stake at 2.30 with William Hill
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