sports gazette

UK Masters: Betting Preview

Ronnie O'Sullivan: The bookies favourite
Published: 16 Jan 2012

A preview of the UK Masters week ahead. Who to back and form entering the prestigious invitational.

The most prestigious invitation event in World Snooker stretches over an action packed week featuring the top 16 players from January 15th-22nd.

Ronnie O’Sullivan is the favourite to win the short tournament at a cool 100/30, which is surprising as the world number 9 hasn’t won a ranking event in two years.

The Rocket’s temperament will need to hold strong after he made another threat to retire following his exit of the UK Championships at the hands of overall winner Judd Trump.

Recent announcements from Barry Hearn, Chairman of the World Snooker association, included comments about the tour's continuing expansion plans which included more ranking events in China. These new revelations may not be to Ronnie’s taste as he assesses his future in the game, himself highlighting a need for a healthy work life balance in recent interviews. This could be a possible distraction for the most natural player to have graced the game.

Both O’Sullivan and Mark Williams have already passed through to the second round following successful outings against Ding Junghui and Stephen Maguire respectively.

Williams won his match 6-4 after taking an early lead of 4-0, and is priced at 13/2 to take the title for the third time.

The Welsh potting machine has played 36 matches at the tournament winning 23 (an admirable 64% win percentage).
In form Judd Trump is placed at second favourite (6/1) to take the £150,000 cheque at the end of the week after his brand of ‘naughty’ snooker took him to the UK Championship title in Sheffield.

The Bristolian saw off O’Sullivan, Robertson and Mark Allen on the way to his first major title but has never qualified past the wild card round at the Masters. He would be a confident bet but it's worth bearing in mind that he could see the tough end of the draw.

Mark Selby, the tournament's third seed has won this tournament twice in the last 4 years, but went out in only the second round of the UK Championships to Marco Fu.

‘The Jester from Leicester’ faces Stephen Lee in his first match, a rematch of Selby’s winning Masters final of ’08.

Higgins has won it twice but not since ’06 and has suffered 4 first round exits in this tournament in the last 4 years. But it is hard to go against the World Number 1 and World Champion who has 24 ranking titles under his belt.

At 7/1 it may be worth taking a change on Higgins, and in a new venue the ‘Wizard of Wishaw’ is the one to watch.

Outsiders Dott and Carter, priced at 22/1 and 35/1 respectively for the tournament win, face each other in the first round. It may be worth keeping an eye on whoever comes out of that match on top remembering that these are the top 16 players for a reason and any player here on their day can beat anybody else.

After all these are the players that are keeping players such as the former world Champion Stephen Hendry out of the top 16.

Selection: John Higgins 7/1

Outsider bet: Ali Carter 35/1- A decent each way shout

Side bet: 9/2 that there will be a 147 in the tournament this week.

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