We're down to the last four in Sheffield, with the semi-finals to be played over four sessions and three days. Paul Krishnamurty updates his outright book and previews both matches here...
"Ding has always been a potential world champion and has never looked stronger, most notably in the tactical department. This could well be his year."
The World Championship semi-final line-up pitches two former champions against two elite players looking to win it for the first time. With six titles between them and coming off resounding victories, Mark Selby and John Higgins are favourites to progress. In both cases, however, the outsider represents a decent value bet.
Before getting to the matches, a quick update on my pre-tournament positions. Three of my four original picks are in the semis so cashing out makes obvious sense. If you've followed those bets, my advice is to place 12 units on John Higgins at 4.67/2 to win the event, therefore guaranteeing at least 25 units profit on the event.
Back Ding Junhui 5u @ 2.747/4 to beat Mark Selby
Place order to lay 10u @ 1.330/100
At these odds, Ding must be the bet, regardless of Selby's unarguably strong claims. The reigning champion is playing well but for my money the Chinese star has been even better. His defeat of Ronnie O'Sullivan represented a career peak and provides exactly the confidence boost needed ahead of this bid to gain revenge for defeat in last year's final.
They have met twice since, both in finals, winning one apiece. At 11-9 to Selby, their head-to-head record demonstrates how closely matched they are, even if the Jester has been much more consistent. Ding has always been a potential world champion and has never looked stronger, most notably in the tactical department. This could well be his year.
One should always guard against the Selby comeback, though, as he wins matches from the dead on a regular basis. The plan, therefore, is to place a lay order on Ding at 1.330/100 for double the initial stake, as listed above.
Back Barry Hawkins to beat John Higgins 4u @ 2.568/5
Had this match been priced up pre-tournament, Hawkins would have been favourite so these odds are testament to Higgins' outstanding form. Maintaining it throughout the whole tournament, however, will be quite a task. At this level, it is all about performance on the day and he will not get away with any dip in standards against by far his strongest opponent to date.
Even if his performances haven't been the most memorable of earlier rounds, Hawkins hasn't done anything wrong. He's looked fluent, scored well and dispatched his opponents with plenty to spare. Barry has stacks of experience in the latter stages of majors now and won't fear anyone. His best snooker of the fortnight may be yet to come.
Stakes: 100 units
Returns: 102 units