The UK Championship opens its doors for a third day with the new format already creating plenty of headlines. Below is a preview of three matches from the fourth day of action with the treble paying just over 6/1.
Scott Donaldson to beat Matthew Selt @ 4/5
Scott Donaldson won their only meeting in October and everything points to the Scot franking that form in their match in York.
Neither player arrives in good form but Selt’s performances since reaching the last-16 of Event 1 of the Asian Tour back in June have been particularly dreadful.
The 28-year-old hasn’t won consecutive matches since and has suffered five first round exits from his last 10 events. That lack of confidence is a serious concern for supporters of the Englishman as the unforgiving format at the Barbican has already seen plenty of the bigger names get caught out.
Donaldson won’t be hanging around for long in North Yorkshire but he has shown much more this campaign, reaching the quarter-finals in Event 1 of the European Tour and going one step further in the Asian equivalent a week later.
His results have dropped off since but he won a couple of matches in his last event and is in much better heart.
James Wattana to beat Ian Burns @ Evens
Ian Burns enjoyed the best result of his fledgling career when reaching the quarter-finals of Event 6 of the European Tour at the beginning of the month but it’s still difficult to see the 28-year-old getting past James Wattana.
Burns has only had one full year on the tour after coming through qualifying school last season whilst his 43-year-old opponent won his first tournament back in 1986 when he was only 16.
They have met twice before with Burns winning on both occasions but with the incentives for success so much bigger this week the extra experience of the Thai cuesmith could be pivotal.
Furthermore, Wattana’s form is actually better than it first appears with two of his last three defeats coming against the prolific Ding Junhui and last week’s Champion of Champions finalist Stuart Bingham.
Burns won four matches en route to that last-eight finish in Gloucester but a closer inspection of his passage fails to show any scalps of note. On the other hand, Wattana’s tournaments have been ending at the hands of some very good operators and he has had no such problems finding his way past players of Burns’ calibre all year.
Mike Dunn to beat Luca Brecel @ 11/10
Mike Dunn has made a useful habit of posting his best results at the most prestigious tournaments this season and that looks set to continue against an out-of-form Luca Brecel.
Dunn has recovered extremely well after enduring a season last year that would have left many people heading out of the game’s exit door. The 42-year-old only posted three wins in a miserable 2012/13 campaign but has come back to life this term with significant runs in the most lucrative events.
Last-32 finishes at the Australian Goldfields Open and Shanghai Masters were bettered in October with a last-16 run at the Indian Open. Those results have been complimented with some decent performances at some of the European Tour events and he will begin his match in a good place.
Conversely, Brecel is struggling for confidence after being tipped to do great things this season following a remarkable performance in this event last year where the German star won six matches to reach the quarter-finals, only just missing out on a last-four spot in a deciding frame against eventual finalist Shaun Murphy.
Unfortunately for the 18-year-old he hasn’t been able to get close to that level since, bar a last-eight finish at Event 5 of the European Tour, and he looks a vulnerable favourite.
Brecel will no doubt be attempting to draw inspiration from his last visit to the Barbican but the reality is that he is in awful nick whilst his opponent has rediscovered his appetite for the bigger stage.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.
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