World Snooker 2016 First Round Tips: Ryan to have his Day against Higgins

Liang Wenbo can once again give Judd Trump a stern test
Liang Wenbo can once again give Judd Trump a stern test

Paul Krishnamurty has scoured the first round coupon in search of both outsider value and odds-on bankers. Read his three recommendations here...

"Day has a decent Crucible record and the tools to capitalise if Higgins turns up below par as he has in all four Crucible appearances since last winning the title in 2011."

Back Ryan Day to beat John Higgins @ 3.412/5

Best Bet

Back Liang Wenbo to win the +3.5 Frame Handicap @ 5/6 (vs Judd Trump)

In the biggest tournament of the season to date - the UK Championship - Liang Wenbo defied odds of 150/1 to reach the final, beating Judd Trump 6-4 along the way. Given that the upset was in keeping with their head-to-head record - Wenbo leads 4-2, or 3-1 excluding the Championship League - I'm surprised to see Wenbo so readily dismissed by the market again.

The reason is Trump's timely run into form, winning the China Open in a canter. However this was his first title of the season, and the 'Juddernaut' remains an infuriating player to follow. Exciting, remarkably talented, yet temperamentally flawed and not one to rely upon when things get scrappy.

They invariably do get scrappy at some stage of a best of 19 match and, even assuming the favourite wins, I reckon Wenbo will stay within touching distance. He'll only need to win seven frames to beat the handicap and that is well within realistic range, even if Trump plays well.

Best Longshot

Back Ryan Day to beat John Higgins @ 3.412/5

It will come as no surprise to learn that Higgins dominates the career head-to-head stats against perennial underachiever Day, but the Welshman has won their only two matches in the last four years, most recently in March at the World Grand Prix.

Much will depend on which Higgins turns up. Last season, he looked in terminal decline, but he roared back during the first half of the season, winning the Australian Open and International Championship. Since then, however, inconsistency has set in.

Take the evidence from the Masters in January. If Higgins produces the form shown when beating Liang Wenbo in the first round, he'll win this with plenty to spare. But if he repeats the standard shown in quarter-final defeat to Stuart Bingham, anyone in the world's top-100 would stand a good chance.

Day has a decent Crucible record, reaching three quarter-finals and pulling off an upset against Stephen Maguire last year. He won't be fazed by the atmosphere, and has the tools to capitalise if Higgins turns up below par as he has in all four Crucible appearances since last winning the title in 2011.

Best Acca

Stephen Maguire to beat Alan McManus @ 4/11
Graeme Dott to beat Mark Williams @ 13/10
Barry Hawkins to beat Zhang Anda @ 2/11
Neil Robertson to beat Michael Holt @ 1/8

Our acca starts this afternoon, with a match-up between two mates. Stephen Maguire hasn't generally been the type to trust at odds-on throughout his career, but I reckon he could have a decent run at this year's championship.

Maguire found some form at the China Open just in time to save his top-16 spot, and has a pretty generous draw. Anywhere near his best form, he will be too strong for gritty, yet limited old-timer McManus.

Next in a battle of fading former world champions, Graeme Dott gets the nod over Mark Williams. Considering the latter's disappointing form this season - he lost his last two matches to Martin O'Donnell and Dominic Dale - odds-on make no appeal whatsoever.

Dott hasn't done a great deal either, besides a couple of semi-final appearances, but he has a great Crucible record and, having fought hard with three wins to get here, is fancied to make the most of it.

Finally, a couple of odds-on bankers to boost the odds. Barry Hawkins won both previous matches against Zhang Anda, and the 2013 runner-up should progress without too much trouble. Zhang is one of the weakest qualifiers, never suggesting he could truly compete at this level.

And Neil Robertson, whilst prohibitively priced at 1-8, is expected to ease past Michael 'Hitman' Holt - a player he hasn't lost to for 16 years. This acca pays just over 3-1.

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