The third day of first round action takes place at the WST Classic on Saturday when another 20 matches take place inside the Morningside Arena with three more sessions of play scheduled to keep us entertained.
The star names have continued to make it through in the opening two days and on Saturday the likes of Mark Selby, John Higgins, Ding Junhui and Shaun Murphy are among those in action looking to make it into the second round.
Once again we have a couple of sets of matches in the morning session on Saturday with the German Masters winner Ali Carter the highest ranked player on show in the first of them. He takes on the enigmatic Dechawat Poomjaeng for a place in the second round. Elsewhere, Tian Pengfei will take on Alfie Burden while Marco Fu will look for a good prep ahead of the World Championship qualifiers next month when he faces Liam Highfield. Stuart Carrington meets Adam Duffy in the other game.
We have the winner and the finalist of the Six Reds World Championship in action in the second part of the morning session. Ding Junhui won that tournament and will look to back that up when he meets Xu Si. Thepchaiya Un-Nooh lost to Ding last weekend and will hope to bounce back from that when he meets Asjad Iqbal. Elsewhere, Mark King will look for a confidence boosting win when he takes on Muhammad Asif and Matthew Selt goes up against a Michael Holt who is competing in his final event of the season.
We have two more sets of matches in the afternoon session and there is a very competitive bunch of games in the first one. Tom Ford is the highest ranked player in action. He meets Andrew Pagett but the pick of the matches in terms of profile is the one which pits the Shootout champion Chris Wakelin up against the leading female in Reanne Evans. Stephen Maguire desperately needs to find some form ahead of the World Championship qualifiers and he meets Alexander Ursenbacher while Mark Joyce plays Gerard Greene in the other game.
Two class acts headline the show in the second part of the afternoon session. The big match sees the recent Championship League winner John Higgins going up against the dangerous Michael White. Shaun Murphy demolished the field at the Players Championship recently and he’ll look to continue that decent form when he takes on Oliver Brown. Elsewhere, Andy Hicks goes up against James Cahill and Anthony Hamilton will be expected to overcome the amateur Farakh Ajaib.
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We are not done with the star acts prior to the evening session even though there is only one set of matches in it. Mark Selby has already won the English Open this season and saw his hopes of reaching the Tour Championship receive a boost when Luca Brecel, the man immediately behind him on the one-year rankings, went out on Friday. Selby faces Robbie McGuigan while David Gilbert goes up against Ian Martin. Two other matches take place in the evening with Robbie Williams facing Aaron Hill and Jak Jones takes on Sanderson Lam.
Stephen Maguire hasn’t had much of a season at all and I’m not convinced that a behind closed doors hit out in an event which is unlikely to be on the calendar again is going to get his competitive juices flowing. The Scot struggled during lockdown so being back in a sterile environment isn’t exactly going to help him. He takes on Alexander Ursenbacher who himself isn’t having a fantastic season but who will want some match practice this week having not competed since the Shootout.
Ursenbacher is one for the big stage but his next big stage is World Championship qualifying and he will want to go there with a bit of form and confidence behind him. The Swiss ace will have had plenty of time for practice in recent weeks so his game should be sharp even if he is lacking a competitive hit out. Maguire has been travelling the world having been in the Six Reds last week where he wasn’t in a particularly good shape, in keeping with the season as a whole. In an ideal world Ursenbacher would have been more active recently but at the prices I’ll take the chance on the Swiss man.
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