Paul Krishnamurty previews the three matches due to begin on Tuesday involving, among others, Mark Allen and Barry Hawkins...
"Barry Hawkins hasn't lost at this stage of the event for ten years. After an awful season that hasn't yielded a single semi-final appearance, that run could be in jeopardy."
In addition to the three matches starting on Tuesday, there's a fascinating second session that could produce the biggest upset of the tournament. Noppon Saengkham leads Shaun Murphy 6-3 and is favourite for the upset at 1.654/6.
We have a live, if not particularly exciting bet running on centuries in that match and that side market looks the one to play in what appears a one-sided encounter between Mark Allen and Jamie Clarke.
Trust Allen to get among the tons
Whilst Clarke has performed heroics to get here with Joe Perry among the scalps but, discounting the one-frame Shootout, this is by far his most significant run in an event. Allen meanwhile was in fine form when reaching the Tour Championship final.
Allen is a very heavy scorer at his best and prolific centurion. Given the spate of tons we saw over the weekend, three in the match or two in the first session doesn't seem an especially big ask. Plus of course, Clarke could always get one.
Can Gould maintain Maguire hoodoo?
The afternoon game involves a startling head-to-head record - Martin Gould leads Stephen Maguire 5-0. Discovering that nugget has slightly dampened my enthusiasm for the Scot, who is one of my outright picks at 33/1.
Maguire's best and recent form are vastly superior but he has never been reliable and this isn't the easiest draw, irrespective of their history. Gould has bags of Crucible experience and found fine form in the qualifiers, hitting four 80 plus breaks to beat Graeme Dott. No bet for me.
Hawkins match could go all the way
Barry Hawkins hasn't lost at this stage of the event for ten years. After an awful season that hasn't yielded a single semi-final appearance, that run could be in jeopardy.
In Alexander Ursenbacher, he plays a highly capable type, on the up. This Swiss player beat Gary Wilson en route to qualifying, has beaten Ronnie O'Sullivan, reached a ranking semi before and enjoyed a great run to the quarters in Northern Ireland with four upset wins.
The Hawk is always respected at this venue, however, and his Crucible experience must offer a substantial advantage. Nevertheless I think this one will be close and go beyond 16.5 Frames.
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