Judd Trump is always popular with fans and punters alike, but it's been a while since we saw his best snooker and Paul Krishnamurty reckons today's Chinese opponent is being dismissed far too readily...
"Yesterday's 6-0 scoreline flattered Trump, owing plenty to his opponent's poor standard. If he gives Guodong anything like as many chances, this match will be much closer than the odds suggest."
After opening with a 6-0 victory over the hapless Dechawat Poomjaeng, Judd Trump's army of backers are out in force again, hoping their man can find the rhythm that yielded this UK title in superb fashion in 2011. Taking just 1.292/7 about him beating China's Xiao Guodong tonight, however, strikes me as just about the worst possible betting strategy.
While nobody who knows anything about snooker would dare write Trump off, and share an expectation that one day he will be the world's undisputed best, he is almost unrecognisable from the potting machine of two years ago. It all started going wrong in the same round of this event 12 months ago, when the tournament favourite carelessly tossed away his match against Mark Joyce. Since then, he hasn't reached a ranking event final and has lost to a plethora of non-seeds, such as Li Hang, Zhang Anda, David Gilbert, David Morris, Michael Holt, Alan McManus, Jack Lisowski and Alfie Burden.
Moreover, yesterday's 6-0 scoreline flattered Trump, owing plenty to his opponent's poor standard. If he gives Guodong anything like as many chances, this match will be much closer than the odds suggest. Of all those players to beat Trump this year, only Michael Holt is higher ranked than the world number 28. In fact Guodong has achieved something that Trump hasn't done this year, by reaching the Shanghai Masters final. Without going overboard about that result, which was largely due to an easy draw, Guodong can clearly hold his own at this level.
I wouldn't deter anyone from taking 2.111/10 about Guodong to win the four frames required to cover the handicap, but preference is for a back-to-lay on the Match Odds market . The plan is to back Guodong for four units at 4.47/2, then place a lay order in-running for ten units at 1.51/2. If Guodong shortens to that mark during any stage of the game, we'll be guaranteed at least six units profit.