After the first session of the semi-finals both of yesterday's picks lead their opponents 5-3 after some less-than-spectacular snooker at the Crucible Theatre.
Ali Carter looked completely out-of-sorts, a bit fatigued even, for the first hour of his encounter with Stephen Maguire and lost the first two frames. But he battled back superbly to win five of the last six frames of the session and will be delighted with his lead going into today's second session (commences 10:00 this morning).
The key to beating Maguire is to frustrate him as he, probably more than anyone in the game, can fall to pieces when doubts start creeping into his head. And Carter is probably the ideal player to get on Maguire's nerves.
There were a few instances yesterday when, after a protracted safety battle, Maguire slapped the table or kicked his cue after missing pots that he possibly shouldn't have been attempting. That's a sign of frustration, and when he gets like that his game goes completely off the boil.
The Captain will play on that today. Yes, 'On-Fire' Maguire can be superb when in full flow, but I'm not sure he'll be allowed to get into that mode too often.
Carter is now 1.9620/21 favourite to beat Maguire (2.021/1) and if you followed my advice yesterday and backed him at 3.02/1 I'd probably just let that bet ride out.
If you are on Carter for decent money then the advice today would be to back Maguire in the Correct Score market. If the Scot is to prevail it won't be a cakewalk by any means and I'd have to fancy that 17-16, 17-15, or 17-14 would be the most likely outcomes. You can dutch those three scorelines at around 3.211/5.
In the other semi-final Ronnie O'Sullivan looked in great form in racing into a 4-0 lead over Matthew Stevens, but after the mid-session interval it got very scrappy and Stevens did magnificently to win three of the four frames.
I recommended dutching some Correct Scores in this match yesterday and I'm happy to add no further wagers at this point.
My thinking is that Stevens won the safety battles, whereas the Rocket's pot success was marginally lower than it's been during the previous two weeks. I fully expect Ronnie's safety and pot success to improve slightly, and if that's the case then he will run away with this match.
That's it from me for this year's World Championship. Thank you very much for having me. Beer-swigging freeloader Paul Krishnamurty will be back to take you through the weekend and into the final, and I'm sure, that like me, he'll be all over a Ronnie O'Sullivan victory. Or will he?
Dutch 17-16, 17-15, 17-14 to Maguire @ 3.211/5(offers a better return than laying Carter at 1.981/1)
Dutch 17-7, 17-8, 17-9, 17-10 to O'Sullivan @ 3.412/5
Back O'Sullivan in Stevens +5.5 Frames @ 2.01/1
Back Carter to beat Maguire @ 3.02/1
Back O'Sullivan in outright Winner market @ 3.185/40