World Snooker Semi-Final Tips: Back both outsiders on the handicap

Snooker player Gary Wilson
Qualifier Gary Wilson is no forlorn hope for the title

We're down to the last four in Sheffield and the market is pointing towards a repeat of the 2011 final. Paul Krishnamurty, however, reckons both favourites are over-rated...

"Gilbert has been under-rated all tournament...One of the most improved players around, the Englishman has definitely been in superior form to Higgins this season."

Back David Gilbert to win the +3.5 Frame Handicap 5u @ Evs

Judd Trump is rated odds-on favourite at 1.865/6 to win his first World Championship crown after another day of shocks at the Crucible.

The reigning Masters champion merely did what was expected of him in the last round, defeating Stephen Maguire with plenty to spare, but events in the top half of the draw have significantly improved his chance.

First Kyren Wilson, then Neil Robertson, were beaten, leaving four-time champion John Higgins heavily odds-on to reach his third consecutive Crucible final. A repeat of 2011 - when Higgins won his last title and Trump made his sole appearance in the final - is now rated around 60% likely based on the latest odds.

Gilbert is still hugely under-rated

Having called Higgins wrong in all three matches so far, readers should perhaps treat this tip with caution, but the odds about his opponent are totally wrong.

David Gilbert has been under-rated all tournament and respective match and outright odds of 3.412/5 and 12.5 are an insult. One of the most improved players around, the Englishman has definitely been in superior form to Higgins this season and arguably this week too.

The quality of Gilbert's results so far cannot be understated. Joe Perry was one of the most dangerous qualifiers. Mark Williams the defending champion. Kyren Wilson looked every inch a title contender. All showed fighting qualities yet on each occasion, Gilbert dispelled doubts about his temperament to fend them off with a few frames to spare.

None of that is to take anything away from Higgins' own achievement. He's looked set for retirement all season but, once again, the biggest stage has brought the best out in an absolute legend of the game. To defeat Robertson in that form - getting inside his head at stages - was a magnificent result.

It may well prove that Higgins' experience and bombproof temperament ultimately prevails, but I will be surprised if this is one sided. Back Gilbert to win 14 frames via the 3.5 Frame Handicap.

Wilson's matchplay achievements bode well

Very similar comments apply to tonight's second semi. Trump is the last man standing among my outright picks after those terrible quarter-finals (he was the one I wanted least!), and is going to take the world of beating. He does not represent any value whatsoever, though.

Take out his final session against Ding and first against Maguire, and Trump has not been anywhere near his best. Perhaps he is just saving peak form for the latter stages and we'll now see truly dominant performances like the one that destroyed O'Sullivan in the Masters final.

Just as likely on very recent evidence, though, is a return to the frustrating underachievement that was his trademark prior to this season. Opponents had their chances to knock him out earlier, without playing at their very best either.

Gary Wilson has arguably shown better form throughout the week. Considering he is a qualifier chasing career-changing targets, he has been magnificent under pressure and confirmed what many of us have argued for years - that he is much, much better than his ranking and a threat to all at his best.

Of course, there is a risk that he'll be overwhelmed on his first experience of the one-table Crucible atmosphere. But having just defeated two of the game's ultimate matchplayers - Selby and Carter - he really should fear nobody. Winning 12 frames to land the 5.5 Frame Handicap is perfectly realistic.

*Watch all the action from the Crucible live via Betfair Exchange and Sportsbook*

Follow Paul on Twitter @paulmotty

Stats after R2:

-0.5 units

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