The second round is underway and Day Seven hosts two intriguing encounters with matches featuring players from past and present who know everything there is to know about their opponents. Below we preview both clashes with the double paying out £38 to a £10 stake.
Alan McManus to beat Ken Doherty @ 8/11
Elderly fans could have been forgiven for thinking they were watching a replay of 17 years past such was the ease 1997 World Champion Ken Doherty brushed aside world number five Stuart Bingham in the first round.
It was the first time in eight years that the ever-popular 44-year-old had reached the second round of the tournament that made his name and the manner of the 10-5 victory has understandably got more than just Ken thinking about what could be.
However, although many hearts will be with the amiable Irishman the head can’t hide from the facts that another evergreen cuesmith is better placed to succeed.
Alan McManus began his career in the same year as Doherty and since coming onto the scene in 1990 the Scot would probably be the first to admit he hasn’t made the most of all the years he spent in the game’s elite.
The 43-year-old was ranked in the top-16 for 16 years but managed only four titles in that time with the highlight coming in 1994 when ending Stephen Hendry’s five year unbeaten record at the Masters.
That Wembley triumph must seem like an awful long time ago for Angles, however, after failing to qualify for any of the major events in the 2011/12 season he deserves enormous credit for regaining his form and climbing back up the rankings.
Whereas Doherty has only won more than one match in four low-key events this season, the campaign has been far more profitable for McManus who reached the quarter-finals of the World Open and also the last-four of Event 1 of the Asian Tour.
Neither resembles the player that used to put be in contention for winning titles but if one was to hang around even longer than expected this fortnight it would have to be McManus.
Their paralleled careers have meant this will be the 25th meeting between the pair and the last time they met in Sheffield was a full nine years ago.
Assessing their past encounters in meaningful matches is largely irrelevant with so much water and weight under the bridge and belt and so their form this season should be all that is considered.
On that basis, McManus looks underrated at 8/11 to progress.
Barry Hawkins v Ricky Walden – Total Frames – Over 22 @ 6/5
No two players have become more familiar with each other than Barry Hawkins and Ricky Walden with the pair meeting five times since the former won their semi-final at the World Championship last year.
In that period Hawkins has clawed back their head-to-head record to only trail 9-8 with the world number four winning four of their last six.
Both passed their first round examination as expected and will be equally confident of making it into the quarter-finals for the second year running.
Before last year neither had made it past the second round despite a combined 29 attempts but everything fell in place for the duo 12 months ago when they managed to meet in the last-four.
Hawkins came out on top that day before putting up an ultimately fruitless fight against Ronnie O’Sullivan in the final but any suspicions that the 35-year-old has a hold on his opponent is far from the mark.
Since losing that semi-final 17-14 Walden has won their most important match since when coming from 5-2 down in the last-16 of the Masters and there is little mileage in basing anything on a supposed psychological edge for either.
Despite seven places separating the two in the rankings few games at this year’s tournament will be as closely matched, reflected in pre-match odds of 8/15 for Hawkins and 6/4 Walden.
But instead of trying to pick a winner the advice is to invest in the match going near the distance, something that the pair have had to get used to when meeting on the biggest stages.
In their three previous encounters played over best-of-11 or further the widest winning margin has been three frames and so the 6/5 on offer for there to be over 22 frames looks great value.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.
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