Monday’s snooker: Trump may be only one of top-16 to struggle
The action in Sheffield is in full-swing with previews of all four of Monday’s matches leading to a 9/1 fourfold.
Matthew Stevens to beat Marco Fu @4/5
Matthew Stevens and Marco Fu met at the opening stage in Sheffield last year and everything points to the Welshman at to confirm that 10-3 win 12 months ago.
Fu has had a solid season on tour, reaching the semi-finals of the Australian Open at the beginning of the season and going one better in the German Masters in February when finding only Ali Carter too good in the final.
World number 12 Stevens has had less impressive results this term but returned to form just in time for the Crucible with a run to the climax of the World Open last month. Victories against world champions Shaun Murphy and Neil Robertson plus a victory against Judd Trump constitutes form that Fu might struggle to match.
Ding Junhui (-4.5) to beat Alan McManus @ 5/6
Alan ‘Angles’ McManus fell out of the top-16 some time ago and had to come through a three-game qualifying gauntlet before booking further accommodation in Sheffield.
The Scot now ranked as low as 50 in the world has been dealt a cruel hand with a draw against Chinese hero, Ding Junhui. Ding has lost twice in the first round here before but doesn’t have to look that far back to find encouragement for his opener. Ding battered McManus at the Australian Open last year, scoring 409 points to McManus’ 104 for a 5-0 whitewash.
At 1/9 the world number nine is prohibitive in the match betting market but 5/6 looks reasonable on Ding starting 4.5 frames behind on the handicap.
Dominic Dale (+4.5) to beat Judd Trump @ 4/5
Judd Trump was world number one back in February so claims that he has failed to build on the success of the last two seasons seem harsh. The world number three has contested five finals this term and although only converting two of them into outright wins, he should be a key player this championship.
However, despite Trump boasting a 4-0 record against Dominic Dale closer inspection of those encounters suggests this will be anything but a procession for the 23-year-old.
In three of their four meetings the winning margin has been three frames or fewer, including when they met at this stage last year where they were level at 7-7 before Trump powered away. Dale +4.5 frames on the handicap looks strong at 4/5 as although Trump has much more of a future over the fortnight he is guilty of switching off at points and that could allow the determined Dale to reach the necessary tally.
Mark Selby (-4.5) to beat Matthew Selt @ 4/6
The last of Monday’s matches sees world number one Mark Selby begin his tilt against qualifier and debutant Matthew Selt.
Selby has had an excellent campaign, capturing the UK Championship and a third Masters along with mopping up two European Tour events. Selt beat world number eight Stuart Bingham on his way to a quarter-final finish at the Australian Open, but this is a significant step-up.
Selt showed plenty of spirit in getting over the line after having to contest a deciding frame against Ken Doherty in the last round of qualifying, but regardless of how committed he is today, a last-16 appearance is too much to ask.
Selby at 4/6 giving up 4.5 frames seems more than fair as although Selby is not known or blowing his opponents away, he won’t give up on any situation and can begin his ‘Triple Crown’ bid comfortably.
All odds and markets accurate as of publication’s time and date