World Snooker Championship Tips: Stevens good value to upset the odds against Higgins

Snooker player John Higgins
John Higgins is far from sure to progress

John Higgins has reached the last three Crucible finals but Paul Krishnamurty is backing the Scot for a first round exit at the hands of an old rival...

"Always a class act, Matthew has nothing like Higgins' consistency or temperament but, on song, he can compete with anyone and he has a great record in the event."

Back Matthew Stevens to win the +2.5 Frame Handicap 4u @ 2.35/4

It is six years since John Higgins last played Matthew Stevens, 12 since they last met at the Crucible. Day two sees these veterans renew a rivalry that dates back to the previous century. This was the UK Championship final 22 years ago.

Stevens fares relatively well against Higgins

Predictably, Higgins dominates their career head-to-head 15-7, 5-2 in majors and 2-1 at the Crucible. Given the wide difference in their overall achievements and career trajectory for the last 15 years, that reads pretty respectably for Stevens.

Always a class act, Matthew has nothing like Higgins' consistency or temperament but, on song, he can compete with anyone and he has a great record in the event. Twice runner-up, four times losing semi-finalist and three losing quarters.

There's every reason to think he'll more competitive here, given the current state of their respective games. Stevens openly arrived at the qualifiers under-prepared yet came through easily enough. He's hinted more than once of a resurgence - reaching the quarters at the UK Championship, for example.

Higgins looks in decline this term

Higgins meanwhile is on the way down. Only two semi-final appearances sums up his campaign. True, he's reached the last three Crucible finals against expectations but I would need to see evidence of real improvement before backing him.

The plan is two bets on Stevens. First a back to lay, taking 4.1 pre-match, then setting a lay order at 2.01/1 with a view towards cashing out with double our money. Second for the +2.5 Frame Handicap at 2.35/4.
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Back Matthew Stevens 4u @ 4.216/5
Place order to lay 8u @ 2.01/1

Back Matthew Stevens to win the +2.5 Frame Handicap 4u @ 2.35/4

Gilbert tipped to edge through

The head-to-head between David Gilbert and Kurt Maflin couldn't be clearer. The Englishman leads the Norwegian 3-0 in matches all played over best of seven frames. As one of my outright picks, I expect Gilbert to extend that but he doesn't appeal at 1.364/11.

Maflin is match fit, having qualified quicker than anyone, and made a big impact on his only previous Crucible visit, losing 10-9 to Mark Selby. For a small interest, try 10-8 to Gilbert.


Follow Paul on Twitter @paulmotty

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