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Welsh Wizard should be backed to keep home crowds spellbound

| 27.02.2014

The Welsh Open has roared into life this week at the Newport Centre with the best-of-seven format providing no shortage of drama. Below is a preview of the evening’s two round four matches with the double paying out at just over 3/1.

Mark Williams to beat Marco Fu @ 5/6

The Newport Centre was in raptures yesterday as one of their favourite sons Mark Williams fought back in the deciding frame of his round three match with Neil Robertson and the advice is to stick with the two-time World Champion to keep the good times going.

The layers have understandably found it impossible to split The Welsh Wonder with his opponent Marco Fu, however, the added advantage of the home support makes the 38-year-old the pick to progress.

That was the second nail-biting experience Willliams’ supporters have had to endure after he came through a seventh frame shoot-out against Michael Wasley in the first round.

The popular left-hander was back on form next up though against Tian Pengfei knocking in breaks of 63, 77 and a classy century in the fourth and final frame to wrap up the whitewash.

Marco Fu is also in good nick also and hasn’t had to suffer any of the drama like his opponent with relatively comfortable successes over the limited duo of Chris Norbury and Kirk Maflin before getting past 2006 World Champion Graeme Dott 4-2.

He has been more impressive in the scoring department than Williams as well with eight of his 12 frames won aided by contributions of 50+ runs.

Looking at their overall head-to-head doesn’t offer too much extra light considering Williams leads the history 12-10 and even a closer inspection of their encounters over the best-of-seven format shows they are all-square after four matches.

Nevertheless gentle preference is for Williams to keep the fans dreaming for a first home winner since the Welsh Potting Machine himself lifted the second of his titles here all the way back in 1999.

Liang Wenbo to beat Barry Hawkins @ 6/5

Barry Hawkins and Liang Wenbo meet for only the third time in their careers and the advice is to back the Chinese number two to reduce his head-to-head deficit with the Englishman to just one.

Wenbo started making some headlines when knocking in a 147 in Bahrain in 2008 before going all the way to his first, and to date, only ranking final at the Shanghai Masters the year after.

He became only the second Chinese man after Ding Junhui to reach the last two of a ranking tournament but eventually lost to Ronnie O’Sullivan and hasn’t been able to reproduce the same sort of standard since.

However, the 26-year-old looks in the mood this week both in his play and in the mind, securing comfortable victories over Jak Jones and Fergal O’Brien in the opening two rounds before producing an excellent fightback from 3-1 down against recent Gdynia winner Shaun Murphy last.

Wenbo knocked in three consecutive 50+ breaks to turn it around, complimenting the two centuries notched against O’Brien.

Hawkins path has been less unfettered, showing his resilience to edge past Cao Yupeng and Jack Lisowski in deciding frames in rounds two and three.

However, he hasn’t shown the same scoring power of Wenbo and has struggled against lesser opponents than his round four rival has overcome and so the 6/5 available should be taken.

All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.

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Sam Foster