PTC Grand Finals Snooker Tips: One player to back from each quarter

Stephen Maguire has a promising draw
Stephen Maguire has a promising draw

The PTC series reaches it's conclusion in Thailand this week and Paul Krishnamurty is bidding to follow up on last year's 74/1 winner Barry Hawkins. Read his regular trading plan here...

"Whoever wins between Stephen Maguire and John Higgins will be heavy odds-on in the last-16 and it's easy to envisage the draw opening up for them."

We've reached that time of the season when pretty much every week includes a top-class snooker event. So fresh from playing the World Grand Prix in Llandudno, most of the leading players are off to Thailand. Many of them had spent the previous week in India.

Such a gruelling schedule, in the run-up to the World Championship, has meant the likes of Neil Robertson arriving jaded for the season's highlight, so while Ronnie O'Sullivan will be disappointed to have lost Sunday's final, the Crucible favourite can at least enjoy a week off while the rest go globetrotting, again.

Back Shaun Murphy 5u @ 11.010/1

Fatigue may be a factor in this competitive top section, as three of the main candidates have been in the thick of it over the past fortnight. Judd Trump won in Wales, where Martin Gould was a semi-finalist. Michael White won the previous two events.

The exception is Shaun Murphy who, lest we forget, has arguably been the best player in the world this season. The Magician was certainly producing the best snooker of his career either side of Christmas, and is easily forgiven losing a deciding frame in a best of seven opening round match last week. He's a very big price considering O'Sullivan isn't here.

Back Robert Milkins 1.5u @ 42.041/1

It would be equally easy to forgive Mark Selby an early exit in Wales, but the world champion has never been one to rely on in shorter format events. Take out the German Masters and he's had a poor season. He is, nevertheless, the class act in a relatively weak section.

The form man is Mark Williams, following a series of good runs in main tour events and winning the World Seniors. That is a punishing enough schedule so, whilst the twice former world champion warrants the utmost respect, I'm taking him on with an outsider.

Robert Milkins doesn't hang around, and is very well suited to this best of seven format. He's had another good season, reaching the Ruhr Open final and the semis of the International Championship, and had a good result in beating White before being predictably thrashed by his nemesis O'Sullivan.

Back Stephen Maguire 3u @ 17.016/1

This is very much the weak section, not least because Ding Junhui is rated the one to beat by the market. On this season's evidence, that's simply wrong and Joe Perry is fancied to dish out another opening round defeat.

Whoever wins between Stephen Maguire and John Higgins will be heavy odds-on in the last-16 and it's easy to envisage the draw opening up for them. Despite the latter winning their encounter in Wales, Maguire has enjoyed a much better season, winning two of this PTC series, and is fancied for a bold bid.

Back Stuart Bingham 2.5u @ 23.022/1

In stark contrast, this bottom section is brutal. Even the two outsiders - Ryan Day and Alan McManus - cannot be wholly written off. Neil Robertson represents the class but has rarely been at his best all season and has a very tough opener with Marco Fu.

A case can always be made for the erratic Mark Allen, while Ricky Walden has enjoyed some good recent results. Preference, however, is for Stuart Bingham, who was in fine form last week prior to yet another thrashing at the hands of Ronnie O'Sullivan (a familiar story during his career).

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