Robert Milkins won many new admirers when completing one of the biggest shocks in recent Crucible history against Neil Robertson. Far from it being a fluke, Paul Krishnamurty fancies 'The Milkman' to keep his run going today...
"I suspect most of the matches in the bottom half will now be very nervy affairs with so much on the line and that could play to Milkins' advantage, who seemed to enjoy getting the crowd behind him in the Robertson match. For my money, this is almost a 50/50 call and that makes the outsider good value."
Before the start, there was widespread agreement that this year's Betfair World Championship was the most open in living memory. Whether anyone can have foreseen the number of shocks we've seen over the last few days, however, is quite another matter. Anyone who predicted and bet on neither the world number one or two, Mark Selby and Neil Robertson, making the second week, particularly deserves a medal.
The consequence, along with the defeat of very short-priced jollies Stephen Maguire and Mark Allen, is an increasingly lop-sided draw. What seemed like the much tougher half now includes only one player who was trading at less than [100.0] pre-tournament. That man is Ding Junhui and he too is behind after the first session of his match against Mark King. Whether Ding survives or not, everyone left in the bottom half will now fancy their chances of a career-changing run to the final.
If it turns out to be Robert Milkins, who has been matched at the maximum odds of [1000.0], it will represent the biggest shock since at least the 1980s, if not the history of the championship. In 18 years as a professional, 'The Milkman' has only ever reached one ranking semi-final, but punters write him off at their peril. While it is easy to focus on Robertson's uncharacteristic misses during their thrilling match, Milkins deserves massive credit for the way he rose to the occasion and held his nerve under pressure.
On that evidence, there is no reason why he shouldn't upset the odds against arguably the weakest seed in the Crucible line-up. Ricky Walden also played very well to thrash an out-of-sorts Michael Holt, but the Chester man is no certainty here by any means. Indeed on their respective form throughout the season, one could argue he shouldn't even be favourite. Whereas Milkins has reached five quarter-finals, Ricky has only made two since winning the first event way back in July.
Walden beat Milkins 5-3 en route to that Wuxi Classic title in what was strangely their first ever meeting. I wouldn't read too much into that narrow victory, though, as Ricky was one of very few players showing his best form at that early stage of the season. I suspect most of the matches in the bottom half will now be very nervy affairs with so much on the line and that could play to Milkins' advantage, who seemed to enjoy getting the crowd behind him in the Robertson match. For my money, this is basically a 50/50 call and that makes the outsider good value.