Judd Trump and Neil Robertson have met in four finals in the past 26 months - most recently at the 2020 UK Championship. It is odds-on that they will do so again tomorrow at Alexandra Palace.
One-sided betting doesn't reflect this week's form
While that fairly reflects their status in the game, definitely superior to their semi-final opponents, based on what we've seen from all the players concerned this week, the double is hardly a certainty.
Robertson starts out against Mark Williams, who has been superb in both rounds. One could say this is another fairytale major bid for the Welshman. He'd endured a tough season with illness and this is his first run to the Masters semi-finals in 12 years.
Without taking anything away, because one has to capitalise upon good fortune, he has endured some great luck. Both Yan Bingtao and John Higgins were entitled to feel aggrieved at the run of the balls in their matches. One could see it as fate, but I'm inclined to think such luck evens itself out over the week. Plus this opponent is slightly harder.
Head-to-heads offer clear signals
I am a great believer in head-to-head records as a guide. The signal here is overwhelming and explains my choices for the daily double.
Daily Double - Pays £11.55 for a £2 stake
Back Neil Robertson to win the 2.5 Frame Handicap @ 2.111/10
Back Barry Hawkins to win the 1.5 Frame Handicap @ 2.757/4
Robertson leads Williams 10-3, by 59-34 frames. There's no obvious explanation from their styles of play but the Aussie is obviously entitled to feel confident. Take 11/10 about him to win the -2.5 Frame Handicap as a single too.
Hawkins is no pushover by any means
By the same logic of head-to-heads, Barry Hawkins looks under-rated at odds of 4.03/1 to beat Trump, although I prefer the +1.5 Frame Handicap as it would cover a narrow defeat.
Hawkins has actually won more frames, 52-50, in their 11 encounters although trails Trump 6-5. He also won their latest match - 10-7 in the Players Championship semi-final. Previously, they had fought out three deciding frames in a row, with Trump winning the lot.
That suggests to me that Hawkins will be no pushover tonight. Granted, both of his opponents so far were well below par but he could do no more than thrash them - beating Shaun Murphy 6-2 and Mark Selby 6-1.
In addition to backing Hawkins for the handicap, take combined odds around 4/1 about a deciding frame via the Correct Score market.
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