The quarter finals of The Masters get underway on Thursday afternoon and they start out with a cracking looking contest when Neil Robertson meets Ronnie O’Sullivan for a place in the semi-finals inside Alexandra Palace.
These two met in the last big match of 2021 when they competed in the World Grand Prix final which O’Sullivan won so Robertson will be looking to extract some sort of revenge in an Ashes clash in the capital.
I’m sure Neil Robertson wasn’t overly impressed with his performance in the first round but he got the win which he hadn’t managed to do for the last couple of seasons so that is a positive he can take from the game. He mentioned after the match that he had taken liberties with his preparation after having Christmas off so it really was all about winning the match and then getting a few days of intense practice in for this match.
He now has to prove that is the case. He’s had four days since his opening win so he should be in tip top condition heading into this one, but he won’t need to be told he is going into the dragons den so to speak because this is O’Sullivan’s back yard so he’ll be playing an opponent in fine form and a near capacity 2,500 crowd. Robertson raises his game on such occasions though and he’ll be hoping that can be the case here too. It need to be for him to have a chance.
If you go back six weeks or so when Ronnie O’Sullivan went down to Kyren Wilson in the deciding frame in the UK Championship quarter final, there were some ready to write him off but since then he has won the World Grand Prix and looked fantastic in the first round here. With O’Sullivan sometimes it isn’t about how he looks on the table it is sometimes about how he sounds off it and he was as positive as we have heard him in ages after the win over Jack Lisowski on Monday. That spells danger to the rest.
One thing O’Sullivan did mention is the burden of the crowd and I understand that because the London crowd is raucous. I was there for both matches on Wednesday and the atmosphere is electric but while it is a burden, the Rocket is experienced enough to know what to expect. He also knows if he scores well early in the match he’ll get the crowd to fever pitch and Robertson will have to be mentality incredible not to feel daunted by the surroundings.
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Head to head
After their meeting at the World Grand Prix last month, O’Sullivan now leads the head to head between these two 18-9 with one draw. He has extended his frame lead to 161-132 after that final as well. This will be the fourth time these two men have met at this illustrious tournament. O’Sullivan leads 2-1 after their opening three meetings in this event. It doesn’t get any better for the Australian in their record over this distance either with O’Sullivan leading 5-3 in that regard. He also leads 4-2 in their quarter final meetings too.
We are in for a cracker of a first quarter final. I think Ronnie O’Sullivan will win the match but you have to respect how good Robertson is to think there isn’t a huge amount of value in him at 4/5. I might be done with value in this tournament anyway after losing two value calls in deciding frames in which they both led on Wednesday but the price on O’Sullivan is about right I think. I do think if I am right on O’Sullivan winning he’ll do so with a barrage of scoring because I expect Robertson to take the attack to the Englishman.
That might make the better bet to be O’Sullivan to make more than 4.5 50s. There are plenty of upsides to this one. Not only is the price a whole lot bigger but this can actually win even if O’Sullivan doesn’t if he were to go down in a deciding frame having made five 50s beforehand. It might also be that Robertson wins a frame Ronnie knocks a 50 in so there is a lot more degree for variance with this punt as opposed to him winning where all our eggs are in one basket. Ronnie made five 50s in the opening round and finished that World Grand Prix final with four 50s in the last five frames he won. I think him to make five or more 50s in this match is the way to go.
Back R.O’Sullivan – Over 4.5 50+ breaks for a 3/10 stake at 2.38 with Betfair
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