The preliminaries are over, the TV cameras are in place and the action is underway at the Crucible Theatre Sheffield, as we preview a first-round match where an outsider has a good chance of causing an early upset.
A finalist here in 2013, Hawkins is no stranger to the Crucible cloth and indeed the latter stages.
Therefore, you might expect the world number five to be a stronger favourite than he is to safely negotiate round one.
However, he’s been pitched against a tricky customer in the form of Selt, who has actually beaten him on the past two occasions, albeit in far shorter matches than the World Championship format.
Selt ended Hawkins’ Lisbon Open run in the semis back in December, taking the match 4-2, and followed that up with a 4-0 win at the World Grand Prix only last month.
Although the Hawk ranks around 40 places higher than his 30-year-old opponent there’s reason fro concern for the Ditton native.
It’s perhaps crucial that Hawkins has the pedigree over this marathon format to allow Selt to get frames on the board, but after that recent whitewash the higher ranked player will have to be wary of letting him settle too well.
Given their previous run-ins this season, the best bet of the lot might well be on the underdog to end the first mini session in front at 12/5.
The extra quality and experience of this unique tournament could well see Hawkins justify his match odds in the end, but on the evidence he’ll not have a comfortable ride.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.
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