Ronnie O'Sullivan heads Thursday's quarter-final line-up at Alexandra Palace. Paul Krishnamurty expects him to progress easily but is taking on the favourite in the evening session...
"At [3.0] on the Exchange, the Belgian is well worth a trade. Backing against Ding at those odds would have yielded an easy trading profit in two matches at the UK Championship, even before he lost."
O'Sullivan very hard to oppose
With a first-round exit for defending champion Mark Allen, the Masters draw has already opened up nicely for Ronnie O'Sullivan. The Rocket is now just [2.1] to win a ninth Masters and 20th major title.
Short enough with three matches against top-16 players to come but equally hard to argue against. Next up, he faces the man who knocked out John Higgins. Ryan Day will need, however, to perform much better to test O'Sullivan.
Surprisingly, they haven't met for eight years, making the head-to-head stats less relevant. Ronnie predictably leads 4-2 but a 31-24 lead in frames reads relatively well for the Welshman, who is definitely a better player nowadays.
Day needs to step up on first round
Day has always possessed world-class ability but, until last season, had never won a ranking tournament. Three titles represented a huge step forward and he definitely looks more confident against elite opponents nowadays - hence how he was able to overturn 1-3 deficit to Higgins in the last round.
However Ryan's perennial weakness resurfaced in that match, as it has again this season. He has always been prone to poor sessions that ruin otherwise good tournaments. He lost it for a while against Higgins - who was evidently there for the taking - before coming good, showing great guts to win the decider in one visit.
Any repeat of that against O'Sullivan will doubtless be punished. I suspect now that Allen is out, we will see a repeat of the UK Championship, where he eased into the final, dominating inferior opposition. Here, I'm going for a correct score combo on 6-1 and 6-2.
Ding easy to oppose at odds-on
The evening match-up explains my confidence that Ronnie will reach the final. I simply cannot see Ding Junhui or Luca Brecel beating him in the semi.
Both proved me wrong in the first round but, at least in Ding's case, there are no regrets. His match could easily have been closer or gone the other way, if Jack Lisowski was more effective in close frames. He remains well below his world-class best.
Brecel did perform very well to beat Allen. That form really came out of nowhere and perhaps owed something to low expectations releasing the pressure. Given his general poor standard over the past year, there's no guarantee he will reproduce.
Nevertheless at [3.0] on the Exchange, the Belgian is well worth a trade. Backing against Ding at those odds would have yielded an easy trading profit in two matches at the UK Championship, even before he lost to Martin O'Donnell. A week later in Scotland, he needed a comeback against Zhao Xintong too.
The recommendation is a back-to-lay, with a plan to cashout if Brecel shortens to [1.5] at any stage in the match. That trade amounts to an even money bet.
Back Luca Brecel 5u @ [3.0]
Place order to lay 10u @ [1.5]