Ronnie O'Sullivan is the main attraction once again at York today and Paul Krishnamurty confidently expects the Rocket to progress to the quarter-finals with ease...
"Stevens represents a tougher opponent compared to any of the trio Ronnie has swept aside but there is nothing in his recent form bank to suggest he can seriously threaten an upset unless the favourite significantly underperforms...I expect Ronnie to defy the main -2.5 frame handicap mark."
Both the UK Snooker Championship betting and draw firmly points towards a Ronnie O'Sullivan v Mark Selby final and, with their closest rivals either falling by the wayside or struggling to find their best, that exciting finale looks likelier by the day. I expect both will take another step forward today.
The latest big-name to fall out was Ding Junhui after a hopeless performance last night. There are others still in with the pedigree and ability to defy the front-two - most obviously John Higgins - but his last-16 task against Mark Allen looks significantly tougher.
Ronnie faces 2003 champion Matthew Stevens and, particularly on the basis of his form this week, is impossible to oppose. His hopes of landing a third straight whitewash were thwarted in the opening frame last time, but the Rocket responded accordingly by winning every frame from thereafter. He is in irresistible, composed form and tempting as an outright bet, even at just [2.38].
In fairness Stevens has fared relatively respectably against him over the years, winning a quarter of their 20 matches including on some big stages and rarely being humiliated. It will come as no surprise to any follower of Matthew's distinguished career to see him leave a grim season's form behind at this week's triple-crown.
Stevens represents a tougher opponent compared to any of the trio Ronnie has swept aside but there is nothing in his recent form bank to suggest he can seriously threaten an upset unless the favourite significantly underperforms. There is no signal of that, either in snooker or temperamental terms.
As in those previous rounds, I expect Ronnie to defy the main -2.5 frame handicap mark. I'm happy to take [1.65] in that market and 23/20 to defy -3.5 frame target as part of today's double.
In the other matches, while Selby is expected to maintain a 100% record against Zhang Anda, he makes much less appeal in handicap terms. Anda has played well this week, knocking in seven 80+ breaks, including two centuries last night.
Both Shaun Murphy and Marco Fu are vulnerable unless improving on their efforts so far. Neither are playing well and, in both Zhou Yuelong and Oliver Lines, face superb young prospects.
I was wrong to predict Lines might face a reaction after beating Judd Trump. Far from it - he thrived on it to whitewash Jimmy Robertson yesterday - and on that basis is worth an interest at [3.3] to maintain his outstanding run.
Likewise Yuelong has produced better snooker so far than his far more experienced and illustrious opponent. The 18 year-old's record to date suggests he'll crumble as the latter stages arrive but he's a fine prospect and perfectly capable of winning four frames to defy the -2.5 frame handicap. Let's put that in a double with the second O'Sullivan handicap bet.
Back Ronnie O'Sullivan to win the -2.5 frame handicap 4u @ [1.65] (v Stevens)
Back Oliver Lines to beat Marco Fu 1u @ [3.3]
1 unit double
2016 UK Snooker Profit/Loss