The Snooker World Championship already seem like they should be coming to a close but we are still in the first round with a couple of intriguing duels breaking off on Day Five. Below are previews of both best-of-19 affairs with the double paying out £45.34 to a £10 stake.
Dominic Dale to beat Mark Davis @ 13/8
Dominic Dale has been cast as the 13/8 outsider in his match against Mark Davis but the recent history between the two suggests the evergreen potter has been overpriced.
Dale has won his last three of his meetings with world number 12 Davis and although none of those encounters were beyond best-of-nine frames it makes his price of securing a third second round appearance at the Crucible an appealing one.
The fact that the 42-year-old has only made it past the Crucible’s first official hurdle twice in a career that started in 1992 is a concern but The Spaceman has made it through to at least a second match in six of nine events this season and arrives in good heart.
Although not one for the sport’s purists, the Snooker Shoot-out and its £32,000 prize went the way of Dale this year and that extra financial security will only help relax our selection and help him concentrate on the job at hand.
Davis will point to his superior form over the season, including a third win in the Six-Red World Championship and the fact that in their only previous meeting he managed the pressure of the Crucible best when winning 10-9 in 2001.
That was an awful long time ago though and the reality is that there is very little between the two players, thus dictating a small investment on Dale.
Robbie Williams to beat Neil Robertson +5.5 frames @ 8/11
World number one Neil Robertson is as short as 1/12 to reach the second round and while it may be too ambitious too predict an upset, the 2010 champion won’t have things all his own way.
Opponent Robbie Williams has already played four matches on the tables in Sheffield to reach this stage and has shown admirable composure in all, notably when holding himself together to fend off Fergal O’Brien in the deciding frame of the last round of qualifying.
All of that recent practice in World Championship conditions will be helpful and although the introduction of a much larger audience will inevitably lead to nerves, the 27-year-old looks certain to give a good account on debut.
Williams has enjoyed a breakthrough this campaign, reaching the semi-finals of both the Ruhr Open and Indian Open where he only lost one frame en route to the last four.
Robertson obviously represents a considerable challenge and the fact the 32-year-old has maintained his number one ranking is testimony to his consistency especially considering the more fluid ranking system now in use.
Maiden titles at the Wuxi Classic and UK Championship have ensured another hugely impressive season regardless of how long he survives in the Steel City, however, the suitably competitive Aussie will of course be thinking differently.
Robertson heads into this currently having hit 93 centuries – already 30 more than the previous record held by Judd Trump for a single season last year – and will be hoping to use this match to edge closer to the century.
However, since lifting the trophy four years ago it has been a difficult place for the favourite, losing in the first round when defending in 2011 and then suffering the same fate last year.
It’s unlikely that the outright second favourite won’t be in the draw for the second round but like other top seeds Mark Selby and notably early casualty Ding Junhui have found out already there are really no straightforward opening assignments.
As a result, back Williams to continue his fine form at the Crucible and overcome Robertson with a 5.5 frame head-start at 8/11.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.
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