Both of yesterday's matches went to deciding frames and Paul Krishnamurty expects the first two quarter-finals to be similarly close...
"This pair have played two big matches in recent years - Wilson won the German Masters final 9-7, Gilbert the world quarter-final 13-8."
If there's a lesson to be learnt from the first round, its that pre-Christmas form is of dubious merit. A wide range of players - Shaun Murphy, Mark Williams, Ding Junhui, Stephen Maguire, Yan Bingtao, David Gilbert and even Ronnie O'Sullivan - all demonstrated significant improvement.
Xmas break transformed Murphy and Gilbert
Understandable, coming off a much needed break for Christmas after being largely camped out isolated in Milton Keynes since the summer. Murphy and Gilbert for example both openly acknowledged how they were struggling.
With these factors in mind, I'm wary of holding a strong preference in either of today's quarter-final. Without their sudden, dramatic improvement, I would definitely have opposed Murphy and Gilbert. Now I could make a case for backing them for the title.
In such uncertain scenarios it often pays to consider backing overs in Total Frames. In both cases, take odds-against for Over 9.5 frames.
Gilbert dangerous on majors form
Wilson is a worthy favourite and produced a typically professional display on Sunday. Match odds of 1.4740/85 are however plenty short enough. Gilbert was superb on last year's Masters debut and has pedigree in recent majors.
This pair have played two big matches in recent years - Wilson won the German Masters final 9-7, Gilbert the world quarter-final 13-8. The latter event in 2019 saw him produce the best snooker of his career. Write him off at your peril.
Murphy and Bingham very hard to split
Murphy is a marginal 1.910/11 favourite to beat Stuart Bingham, which strikes me as fair given his improved performance against Williams.
It is over four years since their last meeting but their career head-to-head is close - 6-4 to Murphy, by 73-64 in frames. The last three were 10-9, 9-8 and 18-15 in the 2015 final.
Follow Paul on Twitter @paulmotty
Paul's 2021 Masters Profit/Loss: