We have made it to the quarter final stage of the Scottish Open inside the Meadowbank Sports Centre, with all four matches being played out on what should be a compelling day of snooker at the latest Home Nations event of the season.
The best of sevens are a thing of the past now but just one member of the top 16 remains in the tournament which throws up a huge chance of ranking success for seven more unlikely cueists, which should create tension and drama.
Zhou Yuelong vs Stuart Bingham
The opening quarter final sees the one Chinese player left in the tournament in Zhou Yuelong competing in his third match of this stage of an event this season when he faces a Stuart Bingham who has shown a welcome return to form this week.
Had this match been a couple of weeks ago you would have made Yuelong a massive favourite whereas because of the form of Bingham this week, where he beat Zhang Anda 4-0 in the previous round with a flurry of big breaks, some bookmakers are unable to separate them. The one concern for Bingham and his followers is that this will be the first time he has been on centre stage this week and it might just be that he caught fire out of the spotlight but the pressure of the main table catches up with him. Zhou lost both of his previous quarter finals this season although he took Ronnie O’Sullivan to a deciding frame in the UK Championship. I think he is the more reliable at this stage but the Bingham form is enough to cause me to swerve this one.
Gary Wilson vs Chris Wakelin
The second quarter final of the afternoon sees the defending champion Gary Wilson looking to take his title defence into the semi-final when he goes up against a Chris Wakelin who is hoping to reach a second successive Home Nations semi-final having made the final of the Northern Ireland Open.
Wilson has lived something of a charmed life this week. He should have lost to both Xing Zihao and Joe O’Connor but seemed to free up against Rory Thor in the previous round where he could have had a couple of maximums but for missing late reds in the break. That match was on table two though so it might be that he is struggling in the spotlight. Wakelin has had a good week so far with wins over Thepchaiya Un-Nooh and Kyren Wilson among others. You’d have to say that Wilson largely beat himself in the previous round though so quite how well Wakelin is playing remains to be seen. These two met at the British Open earlier in the season with Gary Wilson winning 4-3 and I expect this to be close again. My gut feeling is that Wakelin will come out on top here but I’ve already been burned by the Wilson nine lives so I’m happy to leave this alone.
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John Higgins vs Tom Ford
The quarter final on the main table in the evening session sees the one remaining home player, John Higgins, looking to set up a semi-final in front of his fellow Scots when he takes on the International Championship finalist Tom Ford.
Ford is our outright bet for this week and he would be a huge favourite for whoever he faces in the semi-final should he win this match but I think the odds on the Englishman are a little insulting here. Higgins has done well to come through the draw this week but he hasn’t really played all that well. Ricky Walden was a few balls away from beating him earlier in the event and Lyu Haotian kept missing in the balls in the previous round. Higgins is yet to make a century this week which tells us that he isn’t firing on all cylinders. Ford has already got a bit of revenge over Ding Junhui this week and has improved the longer the week has gone on. This is the fifth quarter final that Higgins has been involved in this season and he has won three of the previous four and run into Ronnie O’Sullivan in the other. This will be the fourth quarter final of the season for Ford, who has only won one but the Englishman has won the last five meetings between the two away from the Championship League and I think he is cueing better this week. I can only assume the odds are the way they are because Higgins is at home but I’m not convinced he’s in great form so I’m priced in on Ford even though I’m on him outright. Sometimes a price is just too big to ignore.
Sanderson Lam vs Noppon Saengkham
There is always one quarter final over on table two in a Home Nations event and this time around it sees Sanderson Lam competing at this stage of a tournament for the first time when he takes on Noppon Saengkham, whose appearances in the last eight have been much more frequent.
Lam is a much improved player this season and he is having a good week. He has seen off Cao Yupeng and Anthony McGill at the venue having taken care of Fan Zhengyi to get here and ordinarily wouldn’t have much to lose now but he will be in the World Grand Prix if he wins this match and that would be significant so it will be interesting to see if that is on his mind. Saengkham is in a second quarter final of the season and deserves a lot of credit this week because the last time we saw him prior to the Shootout he lost 6-5 to Tom Ford at the UK Championship from 5-1 up and those kind of losses can often hang around in a mind of a player and hold them back. I think the Thai has to be a worthy favourite here but he’s a little short for my liking. Had Lam played a match of this significance before I might have chanced him in some way but he hasn’t so I’ll leave this one alone.
Back T.Ford to beat J.Higgins for a 3/10 stake at 2.63 with Bet365