The first round of the China Championship concludes on Wednesday when the final four matches of the round take place in what should be another entertaining day of snooker out in Guangzhou.
There were two big shocks on Tuesday as Judd Trump and Ding Junhui exited the tournament so that will put the big names on edge as they begin their tournament on Wednesday. £15,000 is the difference between winning and losing so that should focus the mind.
Stuart Bingham vs Liang Wenbo
The day begins with the other Chinese hero in action as Liang Wenbo meets the man he beat in the semi-final on his way to winning the English Open a couple of weeks ago in Stuart Bingham. That was an epic 6-5 win for the Chinese star and since then Bingham has made the semi-final of the International Championship to confirm his good form.
I wouldn’t be surprised if we get another close encounter and I just give Liang the edge but I’m on him outright so that can be enough in what is a 50/50 match to me on paper.
Shaun Murphy vs Joe Perry
Shaun Murphy had a decent run to the quarter finals of the International Championship last week which should have boosted his confidence because he had been struggling this season prior to that but he’ll need to play well to beat Joe Perry.
Perry has been looking pretty good for a few weeks now without always getting the results he deserved but this is a match he should be eyeing up as one he can win. The two met at the World Open earlier in the season and Perry won that match 5-2. With the way he is scoring I think he is worth a small punt in this one.
John Higgins vs Mark Williams
The later session begins with this battle of the ages as two of the best there’s ever been in the game meet each other. Mark Williams is a late entrant into the tournament after Ronnie O’Sullivan decided it wasn’t for him and you would have to say he has his work cut out to come through here.
Williams has lost plenty of matches against opponents you would expect him to beat in recent weeks not least in Daqing last week when he lost in a deciding frame to a Chinese amateur so I do fear for him in this match.
John Higgins might not have had the start to the season we expected but I think that is only because he is so good we expect so much from him. He has made the last three quarter finals and that is nothing to be sniffed at in the modern game. He is scoring well, his safety is always immaculate and I’ve got to think he comes through with a bit in hand here.
Neil Robertson vs Michael Holt
These two meet in a repeat of the Riga Masters final from earlier in the season which Neil Robertson won but the Australian won’t need reminding that Holt dumped him out of the World Championship earlier in the year and the improvement in Holt is no longer a secret.
Holt’s improvement is such that nobody would be surprised if he wins this match but you have to respect Robertson’s record in the game and when he turns it on he can beat anyone. The Australian hasn’t had the results he would have liked recently but that is when he is at his most dangerous given that he’s a proven winner. I’ll sit this one out.
Back J.Perry to beat S.Murphy for a 3/10 stake at 2.75 with Bet365
WON – Back J.Higgins (-1.5 frames) to beat M.Williams for a 4/10 stake at 2.00 with William Hill