World Snooker 2016 Semi Finals Tips: Trust Ding to deliver

Ding Junhui has at last brought his A game to the Crucible
Ding Junhui has at last brought his A game to the Crucible

With the Crucible field down to four, Paul Krishnamurty previews both of today's World Championship semi-finals and gives us his new tip for the title...

"Throughout Ding's career, he has shown a tendency to start tournaments slowly and look vulnerable to lesser opposition, before improving as the tournament develops...I can't see this being close and expect Ding to storm into the final with ease."

Alan McManus v Ding Junhui

After a typically thrilling finale to the quarter-finals, we are assured of the first non-seeded finalist in five years. Their pre-tournament ranking, however, is just about all Ding Junhui and Alan McManus share in common.

The former, a red-hot 1.211/5 favourite for this afternoon's match, has been touted as a future world champion ever since turning professional. A winner of three triple-crown titles already, twice at the UK Championship and once at the Masters, yet a perennial underachiever at the Crucible. At 29, having endured the shock and humiliation of having to go through the qualifying rounds, Ding appears to be finally coming of age.

In stark contrast, McManus' appearance in the semis has the feeling of a miracle about it. His last ranking title came 20 years ago, his last appearance in a ranking final 15 years ago. Though a resilient pro who has retained competitiveness and his love for the game, Alan's days on these big stages seemed like a thing of the past.

None of that is to take anything away from McManus, who superbly rose to the challenge last night when trailing John Higgins. But to reach the final, he will need Ding to underperform and that seems unlikely.

Throughout Ding's career, he has shown a tendency to start tournaments slowly and look vulnerable to lesser opposition, before improving as the tournament develops. His record in big finals - 9 out of 12 in ranking events or the Masters - is excellent, and it usually takes an elite player to stop him at this stage.

I can't see this being close and expect Ding to storm into the final with ease. Defying the 5.5 Frame Handicap - equating to a 17-11 winning margin or better - is well within his range. Outright odds of 2.245/4 also represent a solid bet.


Recommended bets

Ding Junhui to win the tournament @ 2.245/4
Ding Junhui to win the 5.5 Frame Handicap @ 2.021/1 (vs McManus)


Mark Selby v Marco Fu

Prior to this new bet on Ding, my outright book has been 'all in' on Marco Fu since my main bets on Ronnie O'Sullivan went down in the last-16. Happily, the Hong Kong star has yielded a big profit already for my outsiders trading column and he's a live candidate for the title now.

There is one nagging concern. Fu benefitted hugely from the fact quarter-final opponent Barry Hawkins seemed jaded after his late night battle with Ronnie, and badly underperformed in the first session. Marco cannot afford a similarly slow start tonight against the 2014 champion.

Besides that caveat, in my view Fu has a better chance of pulling off an upset than odds of 3.39/4 suggest. Until last night's wobble - that he courageously picked himself up from with a fine clearance to dodge what would have been a torturous final-frame decider - he had done nothing wrong in the tournament.

Nor has Selby been anywhere near his peak. That may change over the next few days, as his preparation was far from ideal and the Jester may have arrived in Sheffield a bit rusty. However so far, all of his opponents have enjoyed plenty of chances. Fu has the ability and experience to capitalise.

Previously he's lost finals of the other two triple crown events, and his one appearance in this stage of the World Championship ten years ago resulted in a final frame defeat. I do not expect this match to be one-sided at all, and recommend backing the outsider in receipt of 3.5 frames on the handicap.

Recommended bet

Back Marco Fu to win the 3.5 Frame Handicap @ 1.9520/21


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