Match Previews

World Snooker Quarter Final Tips: Williams and Bingtao to serve up a Crucible classic

Three-time world champion Mark Williams
Three-time champion Mark Williams is playing better than ever

"Maguire has played some of his best snooker against O'Sullivan but it has rarely been enough. He has some awful memories, from big matches."

Ronnie O'Sullivan is now favourite to land a seventh world title. Paul Krishnamurty previews his match with Stephen Maguire along with Mark Williams v Yan Bingtao...

Snooker's holy trinity continue to defy the ageing process and in some cases, are playing better than ever. By the time tomorrow's quarter-finals begin, the chance of either Ronnie O'Sullivan, Mark Williams or John Higgins adding to their collective tally of 13 world titles will be around or higher than 50%, according to Betfair odds.

Ronnie now worthy favourite for seventh title

O'Sullivan is the favourite and rightly so, following a scintillating performance to thrash Mark Allen 13-4. One of his very best at the Crucible, among a huge sample of great performances. If Neil Robertson fails to turn around a deficit against Jack Lisowski tonight, Ronnie is extremely likely to make the final.

The reason I say that, is that he has always dominated a series of particular opponents, either tactically or psychologically. Lisowski is such an opponent and so too is Stephen Maguire. To be fair, the latter has played some of his best snooker against O'Sullivan but it has rarely been enough. He has some awful memories, from big matches.

Head-to-head is very one-sided

Here in 2005, fresh off a UK Championship title in which he beat Ronnie, Maguire was favourite for this world title, at 9-7 up and one ball away from victory in their first round match. O'Sullivan spectacularly turned it around. In the 2012 German Masters final, he surrendered a 6-2 lead. Overall, Ronnie leads their head-to-head 18-4, and 9-2 in majors.

That record is of course reflected by prohibitive odds of 1.21/5 for the match and a 4.5 Frame Handicap line. I don't think the latter is beyond Maguire. He's played really well so far and Ronnie can't be sure of repeating his level from the Allen match. Backing the upset doesn't appeal though. Ronnie's bid to equal Hendry's record of seven titles is gathering steam and he'll likely win this with plenty to spare.

Expect a stack of tons

A more plausible way to get on Maguire is via the centuries markets. Generally, he's a ton machine, even when nowhere near his best. Ronnie seems bound to contribute at least three so even money about Over 4.5 Centuries rates a confident bet.

Regarding the daily multiple, try a cheap, speculative correct score double at odds of 109-1.

Daily Double (£0.25 stake returns £27.25)

Back Ronnie O'Sullivan to win 13-6 @ 10.0
Back Yan Bingtao to win 13-12 @ @ 11.0

As significant as Ronnie's second round performance was his praise for Mark Williams, whom he says is hitting the ball better than ever. The Welshman certainly has been superb in the first two rounds, saving energy with two very easy wins. However his quarter-final opponent represents a completely different level of threat to Michael White or Jackson Page.

Williams and Bingtao can go to the wire

Having defied Mark Selby in an epic, Yan Bingtao officially has Crucible credentials. His temperament, tactical play and mental stamina are tailor-made for this event. Surely he will win this title one day and, without predicting him to do so, there's no reason's why it can't be now.

Williams has won all four previous matches against Bingtao, but I wouldn't read too much into it because only one came in the last four years. Whilst the Welshman won 6-4, he owed much to two critical flukes, and the result could easily have been reversed.

Going into the final session of the second round, we hadn't seen a single deciding frame. A remarkable stat. This could very well be the one. I can't manufacture an argument to pick either way and prefer Over 22.5 Frames at 2.111/10. Also take the enhanced 5/1 about either player winning via a deciding frame.

Follow Paul on Twitter @paulmotty

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