The second round of the English Open concludes and the third round of the tournament gets underway at the Brentwood Centre on Wednesday as the first Home Nations event of the campaign starts to build up nicely.
We saw some heavyweights depart the scene on Tuesday so this draw is beginning to open up a little. That will be music to the ears of the big names on show on Wednesday who will be looking to avoid being shocked themselves and take advantage of the draw.
We are still in the second round of the tournament in the morning session and it will be the recently crowned British Open champion Mark Williams who will headline the action. He faces the player who reached the semi-final in Cheltenham in Xiao Guodong in a good looking encounter. Elsewhere, the Shootout winner Chris Wakelin is also on the baize in the morning session. He takes on Jamie Jones while Anthony McGill could have his work cut out when he meets Zhang Anda. Fan Zhengyi has looked in good touch so far this season and he’ll be hoping that continues when he meets Muhammad Asif.
The second round of the tournament concludes with two sets of matches in the afternoon session as Ronnie O’Sullivan graces the scene on the main table in the first of those two sets of games. He meets the exciting Welsh player Jackson Page. Zhou Yuelong is the next highest ranked player taking to the baize in the opening part of the afternoon. Andrew Higginson will be his opponent, while elsewhere there is a big chance for Lukas Kleckers and Jenson Kendrick to make the last 32 of a ranking event when they meet while Joe O’Connor goes up against Liu Hongyu, the player who defeated Shaun Murphy in the previous round.
The second part of the afternoon will see the exciting Jack Lisowski on the main table. He continues his quest for that elusive first title when he meets Elliot Slessor while over on table two the German Masters champion Ali Carter will take on Liam Pullen. Si Jiahui is a player making decent strides in the game after his run to the semi-final at the Crucible and he will meet the wily Fergal O’Brien while the other table offers up the chance for one of Dylan Emery and Oliver Brown to make the last 32.
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We move into the third round of the tournament in the evening session and it will be The Masters winner Judd Trump who headlines the first of the two sets of games. He goes up against Jimmy Robertson in a very dangerous looking match for the higher ranked player. The Welsh Open champion Robert Milkins continues his quest for successive Home Nations crowns on table two when he takes on Yuan Sijun while there are two other decent games for those who have the streaming option to watch. Ricky Walden faces Graeme Dott and Cao Yupeng meets Oliver Lines.
The second part of the evening will see the player of the season from last term on show when Mark Allen faces another man in Matthew Selt who has tasted ranking event success. John Higgins has plenty of ranking titles to his name and he’ll look to move a step closer to another when he meets Mark Davis on table two. Martin O’Donnell took care of Mark Selby on Tuesday night and he’ll look to beat Stephen Maguire while the other match sees Hossein Vafaei facing He Guoqiang for the second tournament in succession after the Iranian beat the Chinese player in the quarter final in the British Open.
There are a couple of bets that I like in the third round of the tournament in the evening session. The first of those is Graeme Dott, who has secretly been going along nicely this season, to beat Ricky Walden, who I’m not convinced is in great touch and who still impresses me more overseas than he does on home soil. Dott comes in here off the back of a good win over Barry Hawkins on Tuesday night with Hawkins previously arguably the best player of the season. I always think a guide to the Walden form is how well he is scoring and there isn’t anything special in that department. Dott is a battler and I think he’s in better touch than Walden and like the idea of him coming through this one.
Later in the evening I just can’t ignore Martin O’Donnell against Stephen Maguire. Maguire is actually having a decent season if you look purely at his results as his loss to Mark Williams, the eventual champion, in the British Open last week, is the only one on his CV this term but when you look at how he is playing it is a different story. He is even lucky just to be here having had an outrageous fluke in the deciding frame of his qualifying match and if you were watching the coverage on Tuesday night you would have heard an unbelievably loud cue bang from him on the other side of the arena even in a match he won against Louis Heathcote so there is a sense the Scot isn’t happy with his form. Incidentally he was 2-0 down in that match and you wonder if he is ripe for an upset. The danger for O’Donnell is that he has to back up a big win which is never easy but for a man who is not associated with scoring heavily, the fact that he has eight breaks of 70 or more in just 11 matches this season well because we know he can bore people into submission with tight safety play. With Maguire seemingly in a weird mood with his game O’Donnell feels like the perfect opponent to take advantage of that at a fair price.
Back G.Dott to beat R.Walden for a 3/10 stake at 2.00 with William Hill
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Back M.O’Donnell to beat S.Maguire for a 3/10 stake at 2.40 with Boylesports
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