Masters snooker: Rocket O’Sullivan to make first round impact

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The odds are that Ronnie O’Sullivan will be at his blistering best at the Masters or some way below this level, but luckily for punters, the wait is not long to find out.

O’Sullivan is the feature of the opening day’s play at Alexandra Palace and he will bring in crowds to the afternoon session for his monster session with defending champion Ding Junhui.

Meanwhile, another of the biggest encounters of the opening round is also on the first day, with Mark Williams battling Stephen Maguire.

Ronnie O’Sullivan to beat Ding Junhui @ 4/7

O’Sullivan’s recent form on the whole has been largely good and his current lowly world ranking of 13 is not because of numerous early tournament exits, but because he has been selective in the events he has participated in.

The Rocket won a Players Tour Event as recently as October and then reached another final a month later.

Meanwhile, he may have lost at the last-16 stage of the UK Championship, but was only defeated in a final-frame decider by eventual winner Judd Trump.

O’Sullivan has also won four of his five career meetings with Ding, including all of the last three since his defeat in the final of the Masters to the Chinese star in 2007.

Ding has not been in the best form of late, failing to go beyond the quarter finals of any of his tournaments since early August.

Stephen Maguire to beat Mark Williams @ 5/4

Maguire was another player to run into a determined Trump at the UK Championship, but he could celebrate a victory over John Higgins in the same tournament in an earlier round.

The Scot has since built on this showing at a PTC Tour Event in Munich, winning a first tournament since 2008 to arrive at Alexandra Palace with optimum confidence.

Also in Maguire’s favour is that he has triumphed in four of his five career meetings with Williams, which includes a 5-3 success at the Welsh Open in their one meeting last year in the backyard of his opponent.

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Craig Kemp

Craig has written for Ladbrokes since the 2010 World Cup, having previously gained a Media & Sports Journalism degree and contributed to publications including the Racing Post. His main areas of interest are horse racing and UFC, but he is also an avid X Factor gambler and likes nothing more than indulging in a spot of Hip Hop Karaoke.