Ronnie O’Sullivan ran out a resounding winner on the last occasion he met Ali Carter in the final at the snooker world championships, but 1/1 appeals that things will be much tighter this time around.
Carter has blamed mental fatigue for his 18-8 defeat to O’Sullivan at the Crucible in 2008, but he feels that he is capable of remaining closer to the Rocket four years further down the line.
A new diet seems to be having a positive effect on Carter, while he has changed the style of his game after working with the 2002 world champion Peter Ebdon.
This no-risk policy was especially evident in Carter’s semi-final success over Stephen Maguire and could also help to prevent O’Sullivan racing into an unassailable lead in the first session.
Maguire stated after his loss that Carter would get “punished” if refusing too many potting opportunities in the final.
Knocking balls safe and keeping things tight may not lead to the best spectacle for spectators, but it will keep frames tight and the hope will be that it tests the patience of O’Sullivan, who then himself may push the boat out and take undue risks.
O’Sullivan is the rightful favourite to claim a fourth world title at 2/9, but 1/1 is worth taking that there are 33 frames or more in the final.
Carter has claimed two ranking titles since his aforementioned defeat at the Crucible and is certainly far more used to playing the big games now than he was then.
It is 7/2 that Carter triumphs and given that his game is well suited to the longer format of the Crucible and the possibility of O’Sullivan’s temperament cracking despite his promising work with a sports psychologist, this could be a value bet.
The worry is that Carter is yet to beat O’Sullivan in their ten professional career meetings, but he can take confidence that four have gone to a final frame.