The evening match at The Masters on Tuesday sees the world champion in action for the first time this week as Mark Selby looks for revenge against Stephen Maguire in the latest first round match at Alexandra Palace.
Barry Hawkins is awaiting the winner in the quarter final and with these two men both experienced at Alexandra Palace and having gone deep in the event in the past we should be in for another cracking contest.
I think it is fair to say that the world champion Mark Selby has been a little quiet by his high standards this season but to be fair to him he has run into some good performances. If you were being hyper critical I think you could argue that he has been found short in events because he hasn’t scored like he needs to at the very top level. There is also the fact that the formats don’t really suit him in the early stage of the season, although that doesn’t carry much weight with his record in the Home Nations events.
The one thing we know about Selby is that in the really big events he usually comes to the party. He has four world titles to his name and he has won this tournament three times but he has only won one of the nine renewals here at Alexandra Palace which suggests there might be something about this venue which doesn’t bring out the best in him. As the world champion he will be eager to perform and show his best form.
Stephen Maguire hasn’t had a much better season so far this term it has to be said but there were signs last month that he might be coming to the boil with a couple of quarter finals. The only thing you would say about that is in both last eight clashes he never performed at all so he might still be lacking a bit of consistency to his game. Much like Selby though, the big crowds and big stages tend to inspire him and he’ll be hoping that is the case here.
When you consider how good Maguire is and how long he has been around for you would have to suggest his record in this event is quite poor. He has been a leading light in the game for coming up to 20 years and yet he has never made the final of this tournament. I’m sure that is something he’ll be motivated to put right but it also suggests that there could be an external factor in why his record in it is so poor.
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Head to head
These two men have met on 19 previous occasions and it is Selby who leads the way having won 10 of them to the eight of Maguire. They have also had one draw in that time. When you look at the frame count things aren’t quite as tight though with Selby having a 10 frame lead at 87-77. Maguire can take a little bit of comfort in the fact he has won their last two meetings including in the first round of this tournament last year. In fact, this is the third year in succession that they will meet in the first round. They are 1-1 for the previous two. Their other two meetings here were both won by Selby. Selby leads 5-3 in the eight matches they have played over this best of 11 distance.
I’m not sure whether I think Stephen Maguire has the form to win this match, especially if it gets really tight, but I do think he can keep close order against a Selby who hasn’t been in brilliant form this season and for whatever reason doesn’t have the best record at this venue. If it gets very tight you would imagine the battling abilities of Selby will get him over the line in maybe a deciding frame but if someone is going to run away with this it could be Maguire.
That was the case in this event last year when Maguire beat Selby 6-3 in the first round and he came from 5-1 down to beat Neil Robertson in the opening match two years ago, so he has form in the first round of this tournament even if his overall record in it isn’t the best. There were signs towards the end of 2021 that Maguire was beginning to find some fluency and form and I’ll back him to reach four frames here at the very least.
Back S.Maguire (+2.5 frames) to beat M.Selby for a 3/10 stake at 1.80 with Betway