The UK Championship final will have an Ashes feel to it, with Aussie Neil Robertson awaiting the winner of today's all-English semi-final. Paul Krishnamurty is tipping Mark Selby to progress, but not with ease...
"Selby looked down and out at 5-3 down to Barry Hawkins in the quarter-final and demonstrated in that brilliant comeback that there is no better player in the world in those late night, pressure-cooker situations."
The defending UK champion needed all his famed powers of recovery to keep hold of his title in the last round and is expected to deliver at odds of 1.454/9 in today's semi-final. Knowing Mark Selby, however, he won't do it in a canter.
Whereas most of the top players have little trouble dispensing with inferior opposition, Selby always seems to make hard work for himself. He even conceded four frames and trailed in the last-128 round against rookie Shane Castle. He looked down and out at 5-3 down to Barry Hawkins in the quarter-final and demonstrated in that brilliant comeback that there is no better player in the world in those late night, pressure-cooker situations.
While this tendency to struggle during the early part of games can be a liability in short matches, this best of 17 format suits perfectly. It also offers a tried a tested betting opportunity, that would definitely have paid dividends throughout his career. The plan is to back a batch of correct scores involving a narrow Selby win, in this case three scores that equate to a combined bet at around 3.185/40. Surely that represents better value than simply 1.454/9 to win?
Of course this equation relies on his opponent putting up a decent challenge but there's no reason to think Ricky Walden won't. He's had to come through a very tricky draw, beating Mark Williams, Ding Junhui and Mark Allen to reach his second successive major semi-final, following on from the World Championship. That set of results gives Ricky an excellent chance on paper of another upset, but alternatively a 7-3 head-to-head career record suggests Selby has the edge.