Australian Open Snooker Tips: One player to back from each quarter

Barry Hawkins looks underestimated on recent form
Barry Hawkins looks underestimated on recent form

The snooker tour heads next to Australia, where Neil Robertson is standout favourite to win his national Open. The 'Thunder From Down Under' is one of Paul Krishnamurty's four picks...

"2012 champion Hawkins is expected to make another strong bid. Again, his Wuxi Classic run was thwarted by Robertson in the semis, but his form in the previous rounds was as good as anyone."


Back Neil Robertson 10u @ 4.47/2

At the time of writing, world number one Neil Robertson is contesting the Wuxi Classic final and carrying this column's hopes of starting the new season with a winner. Win or lose, Robbo will start as red-hot favourite for the Australian Goldfields Open, which starts tomorrow morning with coverage on Betfair Live Video.

There's no doubting Robbo's determination to win his national open and correct last year's defeat in the final. 4.47/2 may seem like a short price but when compared to his general mark, seems perfectly reasonable. There's no Selby, Ding or O'Sullivan in this line-up and even if all three were, he'd only be a couple of points bigger. He's one of the few players to have started the season strongly and bar a handful of rivals, looks miles ahead of the rest. 

There is one significant early hurdle to clear, in the form of potential last-16 opponent Stephen Maguire, who reached the semis last week. However looking at the rest of the draw, that could easily transpire to be his hardest match.


Back Ryan Day 1.5u @ 42.041/1

This section is wide-open, with Shaun Murphy the man to beat, but potentially vulnerable in every round. If they were in their best form, a case could be made for Stuart Bingham, Dominic Dale, Mark Davis or Jack Lisowski. On last week's evidence, however, that cannot be said.

One man who has shown a little bit of form early season, carrying on from where he left off at the World Championship, is Ryan Day. He won five matches before losing to Ding in the semis of the Asian PTC that preceded last week's ranking event, and registered a couple of impressive wins there too.


Back Michael Holt 1u @ 80.079/1

There's plenty of early season form amongst this section, but that certainly does not apply to the only big name. Judd Trump flopped yet again in the Wuxi Classic and remains the ideal player to oppose. Almost always favourite for his matches, yet potentially vulnerable to anyone if his strategy-free approach doesn't pay off. Whereas Trump is only 7.06/1 for the title, Wuxi finalist and semi-finalists Joe Perry and Martin Gould are 28.027/1 and 50.049/1 respectively.

Either would make for a value bet, but I prefer Holt at 80.079/1. He too made an impact in that Asian PTC, losing the final to Ding, and can hardly be blamed for running into Robertson at the last-16 stage. Holt is well capable of winning a lower grade ranking event like this.


Back Barry Hawkins 3u @ 17.016/1

No contest here, as 2012 champion Hawkins is expected to make another strong bid. Again, his Wuxi Classic run was thwarted by Robertson in the semis, but his form in the previous rounds was as good as anyone. It took me a while to shake off scepticism regarding Barry's sudden improvement from fringe top-16 player to major contender but there's no arguing with his results. Runaway winner of the PTC Grand Finals in March. Semis at the World Championship, Masters and Welsh Open, beaten by Ronnie every time. 

Again it is easy to envisage the draw opening up. Peter Ebdon rarely performs these days, especially early season and after that, Hawkins' hardest route to the semis would involve Xiao Guodong and Mark Allen. The latter is of course top-class on his day, but is another whom we rarely see at this time of year and has form to prove.


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