UK Championship Snooker Daily Tips: Allen is the one to beat from here

Snooker player Mark Allen
Mark Allen is bidding to reach his third UK Championship final

As we get down to the last four in York, Paul Krishnamurty says Mark Allen is the one to beat but don't write off brilliant teenager Yan Bingtao...

"It isn't out of the question that on Monday morning, we're discussing Yan as the heir to Ronnie and Trump."

Back Yan Bingtao 2u @ 2.942/1 (vs Junhui)

The semi-final line-up in York is one that very few anticipated but a classy one nonetheless, and all four certainly deserve their place.

Ding Junhui and Yan Bingtao have probably played the best snooker overall. Mark Allen and Stephen Maguire have combined a high standard with tremendous battling qualities. It is easy to envisage any of them being crowned champion tomorrow night.

Regarding the first, all-Chinese clash, the key question involves Yan. Will the 19 year-old be intimidated and overawed playing his more celebrated and experienced countryman, like so many of the young Chinese contingent? This will be their first encounter since Bingtao was 13.

Bingtao has coped well on big stages

A positive for Yan is that, on previous big occasions, he has risen to the task. He landed his first title at the Riga Masters earlier this year and coped well enough with the pressure when reaching the 2017 Northern Ireland Open final.

I've been saying since first seeing him at 15 that Bingtao was the best of the emerging Chinese contingent and perhaps he believes it too. The teenager certainly hasn't shied away from elite opponents this week.

For those reasons - with no disrespect to Ding, who does appear to have found something near his best - I reckon the outsider is good value at 2.942/1. It isn't out of the question that on Monday morning, we're discussing Yan as the heir to Ronnie and Trump.

Maguire to fall short again

The head-to-head record between the other semi-final contestants offers a strong signal. Mark Allen has won all four matches against Stephen Maguire since 2006. So too, it must be said, does the latter's tendency to come up short in the latter stages of events.

Getting here has been anything but straightforward for Allen, who needed a third deciding frame of the week to end Nigel Bond's incredible run last night. Assuming he's fully recovered by tonight, a third UK final and potentially second major title is very much on. He is the one to beat among this quartet.

No doubt, Maguire has played well this week, especially when it mattered. However he hasn't played anyone of Allen's calibre yet. Back Allen to win 6-3 and 6-4, at combined odds that equate to a 3.02/1 chance.

Follow Paul on Twitter @paulmotty

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