Mark Selby and Judd Trump are in action today at the Betfair World Championship and are rated heavily odds-on to reach the quarter-finals. Paul Krishnamurty, however, believes their progress will be far from straightforward...
"As we saw at both the Betfair Masters and UK Championships, Selby has a habit of make hard work for himself, before coming into his own amidst the pressure cooker atmosphere of the final frames."
With leading candidates falling by the wayside on a daily basis, the draw for the Betfair World Championship is opening up and there could well be more carnage over the next couple of days. Mark Selby and Judd Trump both start as short odds-on favourites to progress past the second round, but neither strike me as appealing betting propositions at around [1.37] against highly capable, in-form opponents.
Mark Selby v Barry Hawkins
Selby kicks off in the morning against the man who thrashed him 10-3 in last year's first round, Barry Hawkins. That result offers little guide because Selby had been struggling with a neck injury, but given a 5-5 head-to-head record between the pair, there is little to suggest the world number one will have it all his own way. He wasn't particularly impressive in the first round, at least no more so than Hawkins was for his victory over Jack Lisowski.
Nevertheless after a superb season, Selby must be fancied to at least reach the last-eight, something Hawkins has never managed in seven visits to the Crucible. As we saw at both the Betfair Masters and UK Championships, Selby has a habit of make hard work for himself, before coming into his own amidst the pressure cooker atmosphere of the final frames. Given that I can't see him thrashing Hawkins, combined odds of around [3.8] for this trio of correct scores seems vastly superior value compared to prohibitively short match odds.
Judd Trump v Marco Fu
It would be churlish not to acknowledge the brilliance of Judd Trump's first round victory, but I retain all the doubts expressed beforehand. The plain truth is that Dominic Dale played poorly and offered no meaningful resistance. Give Trump multiple chances in the balls per frame and he'll turn on the style. That does not mean, however, that he will be seen to anywhere near the same effect if properly tested. The fact he hasn't reached a final since last November, losing to a series of qualifiers in ranking events, should be a warning to big-hitters eyeing up pre-match odds of [1.37].
When on song, Fu is exactly the sort of opponent who will capitalise on a more flamboyant player's flaws. He's given Ronnie O'Sullivan plenty of trouble, most memorably in the first round here and the 2007 Grand Prix final. Victory over Matthew Stevens showed he's still in the same kind of form that took Marco to the final of the Betfair German Masters in February. While today's opponent is obviously respected, Fu is well up to winning the ten frames required to cover the handicap.