The opening day of the British Open sees the held over qualifying matches being played out on a day where we get to see the majority of the top 16 players on show as they look to book their spot in the second round of the event.
We won’t be seeing Ronnie O’Sullivan as he pulled out of the event over the weekend but the likes of Judd Trump, Mark Allen, Shaun Murphy, Mark Selby and Neil Robertson will all take to the baize over two sessions of action.
We have a tasty afternoon session on Monday where there are two sets of matches. The world champion Luca Brecel takes on the UK Championship finalist Ding Junhui in the marquee qualifying match while Judd Trump will also be on show first in the day when he meets Anton Kazakov. Two other current tournament winners will be on the other two tables when Ali Carter faces Allan Taylor for the second time in a few days, while Robert Milkins meets Jiang Jun.
Mark Allen will be on the main table in the second set of matches in the afternoon session. He meets Anthony McGill in another appealing game on the day. Neil Robertson is another big name on show in the latter part of the afternoon. He will go up against Jamie Clarke. It says how strong this session is that Mark Williams will only be on one of the outside tables. He will meet Peng Yisong while the Scottish Open champion Gary Wilson will be on the other table. He faces Ahmed Ali Elsayed.
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We were due to have Ronnie O’Sullivan headlining the evening session but his withdrawal means the attention will be on Ryan Day as he begins the defence of his title. He does that against Sean O’Sullivan with Mark Selby on one of the other tables. He meets Ben Woollaston in an all-Leicester battle. Kyren Wilson is also up in the first part of the evening to take on Martin O’Donnell while Steven Hallworth will be looking to take advantage of the opportunity Ronnie O’Sullivan has given him when he meets Jimmy Robertson.
Jack Lisowski is the home favourite this week and he will be on show in the second part of the evening when he takes on the competent Joe O’Connor in which could be the sleeper for the best match of the day. Shaun Murphy is also on show when he faces Rebecca Kenna while John Higgins meets Long Zehuang. Barry Hawkins begins his quest for a second title on the season when he faces the exciting young prospect Stan Moody.
The better bets are likely to present themselves later in the week but there is one that is hard to ignore. Luca Brecel has never beaten Ding Junhui but I expect that to change on Monday afternoon as I believe the world champion will come through their meeting. There is no doubt that Ding can play this game but every time that I watch him play he just looks disinterested. That was even the case in the Shanghai Masters recently and you would imagine he would be particularly motivated in his home land.
Brecel made the final of that tournament, taking care of the likes of Mark Williams, Robert Milkins and Neil Robertson along the way and he is clearly relishing the prospect of being introduced as the world champion everywhere he goes. He knows that responsibility and I think he’ll make sure he turns up and gives his all in every event this season. Brecel looked hungry for more silverware in Shanghai whereas Ding didn’t really seem to care. A half-empty Centaur isn’t likely to inspire him much so I’m with the Belgian here.
Back L.Brecel to beat D.Junhui for a 3/10 stake at 1.80 with Betway