The opening day of action at the Welsh Open on Monday sees the held over qualifying matches taking place along with a couple of mixed in first round main draw games as the tournament gets underway in Llandudno.
The top 16 who are left in the competition after a couple of big name withdrawals are all in action on what should be a decent day of play on Monday. As ever in the Home Nations we have three sessions of snooker to enjoy.
The defending champion Robert Milkins will get his title defence up and running on the main table in the morning session. He starts his defence of the crown against a home player in the form of Jamie Jones. Two Chinese players are also on show in the first part of the day. The International Championship winner Zhang Anda will be on one of the tables when he meets Ahmed Aly Elsayed while Ding Junhui will be on another table when he faces Jenson Kendrick. Jack Lisowski is the other star on show in the morning. He meets Oliver Brown.
As always in a Home Nations event we have two sets of matches in the afternoon session and the main table first up will be occupied by Neil Robertson. He will be looking to continue his recent return to form when he meets the home star Jackson Page. There are just two other matches to start the afternoon with Shaun Murphy on show on one of the tables when he faces Barry Pinches. Liam Graham was due to go up against Ronnie O’Sullivan in the other game but after the Rocket withdrew the home amateur Alfie Davies will be the main meeting the Scot.
Mark Williams will be the headline act on the main table in the second part of the afternoon. The home number one has a date with John Astley to overcome. Mark Allen and Barry Hawkins are also in show in the second bit of the afternoon and both have Chinese opponents. He Guoqiang will take on Hawkins while Allen has a clash with the World Grand Prix semi-finalist Cao Yupeng. The other match in this session is a preliminary match between two Welsh amateurs in the form of Riley Powell and Liam Davies.
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We also have a couple of sets of matches in the evening session as well. Judd Trump was expected to lead the way in the first part of the evening but his withdrawal means that John Higgins will grace the main table when he takes on Mohamed Ibrahim. Kyren Wilson is the other big name on show in the first bit of the evening. He has a clash with Ashley Carty while the first main draw match of the week sees Matthew Selt taking on Ross Muir, who beat Stephen Hendry in qualifying. The other match sees Duane Jones, who came in for Trump, taking on Liam Highfield.
The world champion Luca Brecel will be the main man in the second part of the evening. He will look to make it into the main draw by beating Jiang Jun. Mark Selby is another leading light on show at this part of the day. He also has a Chinese player to beat in Yuan Sijun. Ali Carter is the other star name looking to make it into the main draw. Elliot Slessor will be out to stop him. There is also a main draw match in this part of the evening when Ryan Day looks to make progress in his home tournament when he meets David Lilley.
There isn’t a huge amount that I like on the opening day of the event but Mark Allen hasn’t played well for a while now and he could be vulnerable in the repeat of the Shootout final against Cao Yupeng. Yupeng has clearly taken something away from that Shootout run because he made the semi-final of the World Grand Prix where he beat Barry Hawkins, Mark Williams and Shaun Murphy, the latter who had battered John Higgins 4-0 the round before Cao took him on.
Allen has been winning matches but every time I watch him at the minute I feel he is waiting to be put out of his misery. He eventually ran into someone playing well in John Higgins in the German Masters and duly lost and if Yupeng gets into this match early and gets the pressure onto Allen I wouldn’t be at all surprised if he has plenty of joy here. Allen has been to this tournament on 17 previous occasions and only made it to the last eight three times and one semi-final. This isn’t his favourite event and so I think he is vulnerable to a form horse in Cao Yupeng.
Back C.Yupeng to beat M.Allen for a 3/10 stake at 3.20 with Betway