The second round of the Betfair World Championship gets underway with a match-up involving the champions from 2005 and 2006, for which Paul Krishnamurty regards odds-on favourite Shaun Murphy a good thing...
"While neither man has won a title this season, Murphy's numbers are miles ahead. He's reached six semi-finals and was runner-up...in the second biggest event of the season. In contrast, Dott has reached only one semi and one final. For the latter...he didn't need to beat a single top-16 player to reach the final."
With one world title each and five appearances in the final between them, there is little to choose in terms of Crucible pedigree between Shaun Murphy and Graeme Dott. If this season's form and their respective first round performances are the criteria, though, Murphy looks a class apart.
Shaun didn't set the tournament alight in the first session of his 10-5 victory over the capable Martin Gould, but 'The Magician' finished the match strongly, looking very fluent in the balls. His tally of six breaks of 78 plus probably represents the best scoring form seen so far. It is certainly unrecognisable from the dross served up in Dott's victory over Peter Ebdon.
Now, to be fair, it must be said that Ebdon can have that effect on the best of players. Peter had no confidence whatsoever and, in typical style, slowed things up. The effect was to destroy any fluency Dott was showing at the start, so perhaps we'll see a better showing against a more attacking opponent. Nevertheless, vast improvement will be need to threaten a class act like Murphy.
While neither man has won a title this season, Murphy's numbers are miles ahead. He's reached six semi-finals and was runner-up to world number one Mark Selby in the second biggest event of the season, the UK Championship. In contrast, Dott has reached only one semi and one final. For the latter, in the low-grade Munich PTC, he didn't need to beat a single top-16 player to reach the final.
Over this long, best of 25 format, I strongly expect the formbook to stand up. [1.53] about Murphy should be a solid odds-on bet and [1.67] giving up a mere 1.5 frames on the handicap an equally good one. I prefer to take the bigger price about the latter. There's also plenty of trading mileage in taking odds of [17.0] to win the tournament. The only superior players left in his half of the draw are Ronnie O'Sullivan and Judd Trump - neither of whom could be described as ultra-reliable or bombproof. If Murphy progresses to the latter stages, I'll update instructions to lay back for profit ahead of the relevant match.