World Snooker Championship Tips: Qualifiers could be underestimated on day one

Snooker player Judd Trump
Could the defending champion fall to the Crucible Curse?

Kicking off our daily bets series from the Crucible, Paul Krishnamurty recommends bets on all five matches due to start on Friday...

"Williams has looked vulnerable to players way down the ranking list but generally comes through against them by relying on his matchplay prowess. There will be no such advantage against Alan 'Angles' McManus."

Among the five matches that begin on the opening day of this year's World Championship, the biggest odds about any favourite is a mere 1.271/4. A strangely confident assessment of a highly unpredictable situation.

Favourites look risky amid uncertainty

Be careful, heavy hitters, before steaming into these odds-on chances. None of the seeds have had extensive match practice since lockdown and we can only guess how the break may have affected their game, for good or ill.

The return of limited, distance crowds means greater normality but this will still be nothing like previous Crucible visits. It could well make it easier for qualifiers to settle. Moreover, the 16 players to emerge from that process have razor-sharp match fitness.

Ford is a dangerous opponent for Trump

The Crucible Curse has struck on many an opening day and, regardless of that, Judd Trump is not a certainty to beat Tom Ford. The Leicester man is enjoying an excellent season, benefiting apparently from seeing a sports psychologist.

He overcame a poor qualifying record to get here and has that match fitness advantage. Judd wasn't anywhere near his best at either the Championship League or Tour Championship. His star may have dimmed for a while. Winning the seven frames for the 3.5 Frame Handicap is well within Ford's compass.

Back Tom Ford to win the +3.5 Frame Handicap 3u @ 6/4 (v Trump)

Double up on Bingham and Wilson for handicaps

The two favourites I do expect to progress without much trouble are my outright tip Stuart Bingham and Kyren Wilson, against Ashley Carty and Anthony Hamilton respectively. Both are superior and fancied to start their campaigns strongly. Again, though, very short odds-on make no appeal.

Instead, I'll try a double on Bingham for the 4.5 Frame Handicap and Wilson for the 3.5 Frame Handicap (paying around 9/4). Also a correct score combo on Wilson to win 10-5 and 10-6 against the veteran Hamilton - whom I think will fall short without being humiliated.

2 units double Back Stuart Bingham to win the 4.5 Frame Handicap @ 8/11
Back Kyren Wilson to win the 3.5 Frame Handicap @ 9/10

The trickiest task involves weighing up Ding Junhui's mindset, form and preparedness for a competition that he is likely obsessed about winning. His win at the penultimate major came out of nowhere, but showed he should never be written off.

On peak form, he'd ease past Mark King, as in six of their seven previous encounters. But if the match is low-grade and scrappy, King would be in his element. Let's have just a small interest on the outsider here.

Back Mark King to beat Ding Junhui 1u @ 5.24/1

'Angles' to take Williams all the way

Finally the nap. Mark Williams has done very little in the two years since winning this title for a third and surely final time. There are reports of hard practice ahead of this event but I'd need to see it on the match table before revising that opinion.

Williams has looked vulnerable to players way down the ranking list but generally comes through against them by relying on his matchplay prowess. There will be no such advantage against Alan 'Angles' McManus in their 18th meeting (Williams leads 10-7).

Qualifying is the highlight of a poor season but I can see the ultra-professional Scot competing nonetheless. It's only four years since his unimaginable run to the semis.

The plan is a back to lay on McManus at 4.47/2, setting a target to bank a profit at 2.01/1, plus a separate bet on Over 16.5 Frames. For me, this match is the top candidate for the obligatory midnight Crucible decider.

Back Alan McManus to beat Mark Williams 4u @ 4.47/2
Place order to lay 8u @ 2.01/1

Back Over 16.5 Frames in Williams v McManus 4u @ 6/5

Follow Paul on Twitter @paulmotty

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