Snooker Betting: Royal London Watches World Grand Prix
Home boy Higgins could be one to follow back in the bosom of Glasgow, says David Hendon.
Betting on the Royal London Watches Grand Prix is complicated by the fact that there will be a random FA Cup-style draw after each round, so punters can't look ahead and try and work out various players' paths to the final.
For this reason, the best players to follow are those must be those who are consistently involved in the latter stages of major events and that is why Mark Selby is worth supporting at [8.4] to win the title.
World no.4 Selby has appeared in the semi-finals at least of six of the last ten ranking tournaments and has the sort of attitude which allows him to shrug off disappointments. He seems to approach every match the same way. Some top players may feel the random draw makes the world ranking list pointless but Selby will go into a match against Ronnie O'Sullivan with the same positive outlook as he would a meeting with the world no.80. He simply enjoys playing snooker and I can't see Andrew Higginson troubling him in the first round.
Glasgow's own John Higgins is on home ground and, currently trading at [15.0], is surely worth following. Throughout his career, the two time world champion has had spells where he's played blinding stuff and also where he's looked like he couldn't win the local club handicap. Higgins has not impressed for the last 18 months but could be due a return to form and, being a family man, will be relaxed in the knowledge that he can commute to the SECC from home. He hasn't won a ranking title since capturing the World Championship in May 2007 and this drought surely has to end sooner rather than later.
I tipped Ricky Walden as my outsider to follow at the Shanghai Masters and the world no.35 duly went all the way to the title, beating Stephen Hendry, Neil Robertson, Steve Davis, Selby and O'Sullivan along the way.
Of the qualifiers that could threaten to complete a similar giant-killing run, Michael Holt may be worth a couple of quid. I realise many people will think I've lost the plot here. Holt is, after all, renowned as a nervy character who once rapped his hand so hard on the table rail after missing a pot that he was taken to hospital with a broken knuckle. Backing him to win a title may look a bit like backing Amy Winehouse to join the Women's Institute but I've noticed he is playing with renewed confidence this season and he demonstrated his fighting qualities by coming from 3-0 down to beat Jimmy White 5-3 in the qualifiers. Holt's a much better player than many people realise and, if he can keep his own doubts at bay, could spring a real surprise. He's currently [120.0] for the title.
As for first round upsets, the ever dogged Dave Harold can wear down world no.7 Ali Carter and Jamie Cope, who made a 147 in Shanghai, has the long potting game to take out third seed Stephen Maguire.
But my main tip in this market is for Jimmy Michie at [3.25] to beat defending champion Marco Fu, who tends to play his best snooker against top players and often comes unstuck against the lower rankers. Michie is a journeyman pro but has been in two ranking event semi-finals and won his only previous meeting with Fu six years ago.
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