UK Championship Snooker: Ding to justify favourite tag in last 16
The UK Championship hasn’t produced any upsets so far and it still seems tough to look past the short-priced competitors in Tuesday’s ties.
Here’s the lowdown on the crunch ties..
Ding Junhui to beat Matthew Stevens @ 8/15
The Chinese star has tasted success in this competition, winning twice, most recently in 2009. Still only 24, Junhui should improve on the performance that saw him scrape past Mark Davis 6-5 here, and win with comfort.
His opponent Matthew Stevens also has pedigree in the competition, winning back in 2003, and he was emphatic in a first round win over Matthew Campbell, but the challenge of the 2011 Masters champion should be too much for the Welshman to overcome.
John Higgins to beat Stephen Maguire @ 1/2
Legendary Scotsman Higgins will be eager to become the first player since his fellow countryman Stephen Hendry in 1996 to retain the UK Championship.
Also the current World champion for the fourth time in his career, the pedigree of Higgins cannot be underestimated but he will have to raise his game since his last outing, a 6-5 triumph over Rory McLeod.
Maguire however was impressive in defeating Stephen Hendry in the first round, and his long potting was of particular note, so he could pose a threat to his fellow Scot, though he should ultimately be undone by the sheer class of his opponent.
Neil Robertson to beat Graeme Dott @1/2
Vibrant talent Neil Robertson meets the more seasoned Graeme Dott in Tuesday’s other last 16 clash and, with each man confidently disposing of their opponents 6-1 in getting to this stage, both will be brimming with confidence.
Robertson is on an upwards surge though, and after a disappointing start to his year, he looks set to be a real danger in terms of adding to his six rankings titles to date.
Neither man has reached the latter stages of this tournament in the past, but Aussie Robertson would seem the best bet to do so this year, and advance here.
Odds greater than 2/1 are available on a treble combining the above suggestions