Robertson to shade opener on his way to better things in Coventry

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The Ricoh Arena opens its doors for the third night of the Champion of Champions with the winner of Group 4 to be decided. Four players have been split in two matches with the victor from each facing one and other for a chance to progress to Saturday’s semi-finals. Below is a preview of the first of those clashes.

Neil Robertson to beat Martin Gould 4-2 (3/1) or 4-3 (9/2)

Outright second favourite for the tournament Neil Robertson would have been delighted when the draw for the groups were made but the 2010 World Champion will know he won’t be able to take his first opponent lightly.

Only world number two Mark Selby picked up more silverware last season than Martin Gould, and crucially all three of the 32-year-old’s titles came over the short format he will face the Australian in. Victories in UKPTC2 and the Champions League, which qualified him for this event, sandwiched the highlight of the Pinner potter’s career when he came through a 64-man field to land the Betfair Shoot-Out in Blackpool and a significant £32,000 pay day.

All three of those wins were played over a shorter distance than this best-of-seven clash and Gould’s ability to start well will be pivotal to his hopes of causing an upset here. Further encouragement for supporters of the 11/4 shot can be found in his recent record against the world number one. Gould triumphed 3-1 in both of their meetings en route to that aforementioned Champions League success and will be rightfully confident of inflicting a hat-trick of victories over the popular Aussie.

In spite of all that though Robertson remains the selection to win as the 31-year-old will be fully aware of the opportunity to go deep into the latter stages this week. The Cambridge-based cuesmith racked up his eighth world ranking title at the Wuxi Classic in June, rounding off an excellent campaign which saw him reach four finals and finish as world number two.

He has shown plenty of ability over the shorter format as well, with one of those final runs coming in the Players Tour Championship Final – played over the same distance as the opening matches at the Ricoh Arena this week. And despite losing his last two matches to Gould, he has won seven of their ten meetings overall and with so much prize money on offer this week – the winner will walk away with £100,000 – the Thunder from Down Under is better placed to deal with any pressure.

It’s impossible to suggest that Robertson will rout someone with such a reliable approach to the game and so the advice is to back the favourite to win 4-2 or 4-3 at odds of 3/1 and 9/2 respectively.

Gould has already shown he holds no fear for his opponent but it’s the first time any of the players have played in an event like this and Robertson is well placed to adjust the better.

All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.

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