Today's first semi-final at the Betfair World Championship would be a worthy final of any tournament, involving the two most exciting players in the world. Despite being won over by Judd Trump's heroics in the last round, Paul Krishnamurty is staying with his pre-tournament pick...
"The first semi is to many people, the real final. Whoever wins will be an overwhelming favourite in Sunday's final. It pitches the master versus his apprentice. The most popular and flamboyant player of the last two decades against the most exciting player to emerge since."
Not for the first time in his colourful career, Ronnie O'Sullivan has ruined his own headlines. Whereas all the talk this morning should be about the latest majestic performance of his comeback, thrashing Stuart Bingham 13-4, the news instead concerns yesterday's interview, in which the Rocket said he's on the verge of retirement and implied he's only defending his title for the money. I really wouldn't, however, let all that affect your betting plans.
We've heard it all before from Ronnie and it usually has little bearing on his next performance. All we really have to go on is snooker and on that score, he is going to take the world of beating. Having said that, while my tournament book is now wholly reliant on O'Sullivan, I wouldn't be interested in taking [1.6] for today's semi-final against Judd Trump.
With no disrespect to Barry Hawkins or Ricky Walden, the first semi is to many people, the real final. Whoever wins will be an overwhelming favourite in Sunday's final. It pitches the master versus his apprentice. The most popular and flamboyant player of the last two decades against the most exciting player to emerge since. Both men are capable of such extreme highs, (and lows for that matter), that almost any scoreline is plausible. Not, therefore, the ideal time to be backing odds-on.
After taking him on all year, successfully until this championship, I must hold my hands up and admit I under-estimated Trump. In coming from 8-3 down to beat Shaun Murphy, he demonstrated real bottle and proved there is a smarter side to his game than simply potting and breakbuilding. That could well be the key to this semi. If Trump can match Ronnie in the safety department, he'll probably win as his long potting will create opportunities. That is easier said than done, though, as Ronnie's tactical game has got much better with age and in addition to everything else, he's easily the best safety player left in the tournament.
I think that will prove the difference and also worry that Judd is vulnerable in long matches, because he has a tendency to throw in the odd really bad session as we saw at the start against Murphy. That was a trait of Ronnie's in his youth, but much less so nowadays. This may well be the last year it can be said but on the last week's evidence, Ronnie is still very much the man to beat and must therefore be expected to win from here. Rather than taking a big risk at [1.6] on the outright, I'm going for a quartet of correct scores at much more generous odds. Combined, these four scores equate to around a [4.4] shot.
Back Ronnie O'Sullivan to win 17-9 1u @ 
Back Ronnie O'Sullivan to win 17-10 1u @ 
Back Ronnie O'Sullivan to win 17-11 1.5u @ 
Back Ronnie O'Sullivan to win 17-12 1.5u @ 
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