China Open Snooker Betting: One player to back from each quarter

Snooker player Judd Trump
Judd Trump is favourite to win a third China Open title
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Paul Krishnamurty previews the China Open, which as usual will be covered throughout on Betfair Live Video...

"Pitched in the opposite half to his two most dangerous opponents and without Ronnie to worry about, this is a golden opportunity for Trump."

Back Judd Trump @ [5.0]

The most important month on the snooker calendar starts tomorrow and with it the penultimate ranking event of the season. The China Open is one of the richest and most prestigious fixtures, with all rounds played over at least best of 11. Elite players invariably dominate - either Mark Selby or Judd Trump won the last four renewals.

Ronnie's absence offers chance to rivals

It is easy to envisage this being labelled a major championship at some point in the future but, for now, its awkward place on the schedule - preceding the World Championship - is a handicap. Hence the decision of new world number one and [3.8] favourite for the Sheffield extravaganza, Ronnie O'Sullivan, to opt out.

Back Mark Selby 5u @ [9.0]

On the basis of his record in this tournament, China or the best of 11 format, Mark Selby's odds represent outstanding value. He's won this title in three of his last four years and appeared in five of the last eight finals. He's a multiple Shanghai Masters and International champion and his last victory came in the China Championship.

Alternatively, on the basis of this season's form he is very beatable. There have plenty of good performances in 2019 but never sustained for a whole tournament.

I'll take the chance Selby turns it around here. Winning would see him retake the world number one spot ahead of Sheffield and an easy early path allows plenty of time to find top form - precisely as he did 12 months ago when blitzing Barry Hawkins 11-3 in the final.

Selby shouldn't have any trouble until the last-16, where various opponents would be dangerous, most notably Ali Carter or Ryan Day. The principal threat would come afterwards, from either Hawkins or the resurgent Neil Robertson. All four are plausible champions.

Second quarter primed for an outsider

Back Stuart Carrington 0.25u e/w @ 175/1

Mark Allen's withdrawal has opened up this section, and several outsiders catch the eye at enormous odds. John Higgins is the big gun - at meagre single figure odds, despite an awful season.

Stephen Maguire is tempting at 33/1 and I wouldn't deter anyone from Xiao Guodong at 100/1 or even speculative punts on Hossein Vafaei and Sam Baird at 300/1. Carrington is preferred though on the basis of about as easy route to the last-16 as one could ask for.

The Grimsby man started the season by reaching the Latvia semis and has enjoyed several good runs since. He's been stopped three times by Trump and once each by Selby and Hawkins - often taking those elite names close.

Trump a worthy favourite to land third title

Back Judd Trump 6u @ [5.0]

Pitched in the opposite half to his two most dangerous opponents and without Ronnie to worry about, this is a golden opportunity for Trump. The China Open has been one of his best - winning twice in 2011 and 2016.

He is a totally different character this season - at last demonstrating a professional attitude and determination to become a prolific champion. April could well prove a very special month.

Granted, this draw isn't particularly easy. He'll probably face Jack Lisowski in the last-16 and either Kyren Wilson or Stuart Bingham in the quarters. The latter pair would rate very high among considerations if drawn in a different section.

Improved Gilbert remains overpriced

Back David Gilbert 0.5u e/w @ 66/1

The bottom section is another that could very well open up and produce a shock semi-finalist. The big guns - Ding Junhui and Mark Williams - remain as evidently opposable as they've been all season.

Ding could nevertheless emerge from a weak eighth, but I'd prefer to take Lyu Haotian or Ben Woollaston at 175/1 and 225/1 respectively. If the staking plan was two from each quarter, the former would definitely have made it after reaching the Gibraltar final.

Gilbert is preferred despite a tougher route. 66-1 is too big about the man ranked ninth on the one year-list. The only player above him in this section, Williams, earned nearly all his points in 2018. Two of Gilbert's three losing appearances in ranking finals came in China.

Follow Paul on Twitter @paulmotty


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