UK Snooker Championship

UK Snooker Championship Tips: Time for Kyren to step up in a major

Seven-time UK champion Ronnie O'Sullivan
Ronnie O'Sullivan is red-hot favourite heading into the last-eight

"O'Sullivan is no longer so reliable in the big matches. At these odds, I'm happy to take him on with a supremely focused opponent, at or approaching his peak."

Back Kyren Wilson 3u @ 2.89/5

Paul Krishnamurty previews today's quarter-finals at the Barbican Centre, in which he predicts Kyren Wilson to beat the tournament favourite Ronnie O'Sullivan...

We're down to the last-eight in the UK Championship and what a surprising eight they are, bar a few obvious exceptions. Ronnie O'Sullivan is the only previous major winner and, of the rest, only Kyren Wilson, Barry Hawkins and Anthony McGill have ever won a ranking title.

1 unit Daily Treble - Pays £10.50 for a £1 Stake

Back Kyren Wilson @ (v O'Sullivan) 13/8
Back Barry Hawkins to win the 3.5 Frame Handicap (v Hicks) @ Evs
Back Anthony McGill (v Brecel) @ Evs

Without question, O'Sullivan versus Wilson is the pick of the matches. Whoever wins will be hot favourite for the title going into the semis. I think this could be a defining moment in Wilson's career. He's overdue a major and this really is a golden opportunity.

Wilson to prove his mettle and set record straight

Having backed Kyren frequently since he came on the scene, first with great success but more recently at great expense, I'm painfully aware of his failures against elite opponents. He has become a nearly-man, epitomised by the last two World Championships. Brilliant up until the last few days, before disaster struck in the final session of the semi against Shaun Murphy and in a one-sided final against O'Sullivan in 2020.

I put these failures down to him wanting it too much, rather than marked inferiority. Today is a perfect chance to correct that, as his snooker has generally been as good as Ronnie's if not better over the past year. O'Sullivan is no longer so reliable in the big matches. At these odds, I'm happy to take him on with a supremely focused opponent, at or approaching his peak.

Hicks' heroic run to come to an end

Andy Hicks is the snooker equivalent of Leicester City, circa 2016. Were he to win this title at the age of 48, it would be the greatest upset in the history of the sport by miles. To be honest, I am still reeling from his knocking out my outright pick David Gilbert late last night.

One can't knock what he has achieved this week. He has deserved it and last night was by far his best performance. However such runs come to an end and, in Barry Hawkins, he's up against a top-class performer, in top form. Nobody has got close to Barry yet and he hit three 90+ breaks yesterday.

Were it not for Hicks' heroics yesterday, I doubt Evens for the 3.5 Frame Handicap would be available. Stick that in the treble and try a single on 6-2.

McGill's matchplay skills preferred

The other two matches are very hard to call. Jack Lisowski and Zhao Xintong should be massively entertaining but I'm loathe to call it. Both are such unpredictable talents. Whereas in the other match, I do lean towards Anthony McGill.

Luca Brecel is on a really good run at the moment, and has won his last two matches very easily. However on a big stage, in a major championship, I'm inclined to think the Scot has the better all-round game and temperament. McGill has stepped up since trailing Zhou Yuelong 5-3 in the last-32 and impressively dealt with Jordan Brown in the last round.

I should add that in this last match, I'm breaking a habit of trusting head-to-heads. Brecel actually leads McGill 4-0, although they haven't met for four years. Therefore, this is merely one for the treble, rather than a single.

Follow Paul on Twitter @paulmotty

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