Northern Ireland Open Snooker 2023 – Semi-Finals Tips and Betting Preview

It is semi-final day at the Northern Ireland Open on Saturday as four men take to the baize inside the Waterfront Hall in Belfast looking to make it through to the final on Sunday where they will play for the coveted Alex Higgins Trophy.

We have four players ranked in the top 25 in the world on show over the course of Saturday with three of those in the top 16. Three of the players have won a ranking event and the other might be the greatest player never to win one so we are nicely set up here.

Afternoon Session

Jack Lisowski vs Chris Wakelin

The opening semi-final sees the Shootout winner Chris Wakelin looking to go within a win of doubling his ranking title successes when he faces the man who incredibly is still looking for his first in the form of Jack Lisowski.

Lisowski has looked very good this week it has to be said. He has only dropped one frame in each of the five matches he has played and while you could argue he hasn’t had to play a top 16 player, he has overcome seasoned opponents in the form of Matt Selt and Ricky Walden. Wakelin hasn’t been quite as impressive this week apart from his win over Shaun Murphy but if his best is still to come then he certainly isn’t in a bad situation. Lisowski has won all four previous meetings between these two which is ominous and there is a part of me which is more than tempted to take him to cover a 2.5 frame handicap as I can see him running away with this when he gets out in front but I still prefer to back him as an underdog in these bigger matches so I’ll tentatively sit this one out.

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Evening Session

Judd Trump vs Barry Hawkins

The second semi-final looks to be the pick of the two on paper as we have a repeat of the European Masters final from earlier in the season as Judd Trump continues his bid for three successive ranking event titles when he locks horns with the man who beat him in that Germany finale in Barry Hawkins.

Beating Trump in a ranking event these days is proving hard to do with the English Open and Wuhan Open winner on a run of 18 successive wins but Hawkins is someone who knows how to do it and won’t fear anyone so we should be in for a great game here. Trump has shown signs of reaching the end of his petrol tank this week and has needed a deciding frame in his last two outings. To his credit though he is still going but Hawkins certainly looks the more assured of the two and the fresher of the two which could be most important. These two have played seven best of 11s in their career and five of them have gone the distance with another finishing 6-4. Based on the form the pair have shown this week I would be surprised if this one isn’t equally as close in what I envisage to be a very high quality semi-final. I like over 9.5 frames here.


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