Trump vs Dott:
First of four uber-tasty matches, one of the form players on tour at the moment against a 3-time former finalist who's never lost at this stage ... both brimming with confidence, both with different approaches to the game but easy to make strong cases for each to win this. Before looking at the odds I had Trump down as a 1.9 ish favourite, which is the case in a few books (some have him 1.7 which is too short) so I can't really take any value from the match odds. Instead a little play on the handicap looks the best option - if Trump is to win, I don't see it being in a tight, tense, nervy encounter, I see it being with him edging each session and maybe stretching his legs in the last session to win by 3 or 4. Dott has to be a strong favourite if the match stays tight in the final session where he can use his experience to frustrate Trump into errors. I think both will trade higher than their SPs in-play, but now I like this bet.
Verdict - Trump -1.5 @ 2.1
Williams vs Allen:
Can't see past Williams here, despite Allen's two emotional wins. Williams looks a really good shout to at least make the final now and probably starting it as favourite, so immediately i'm taking a bit of the 6/1 on him for the title after Higgins and O'Sullivan box themselves out. As for this match, the way Williams has played so far tells me possesses a bit of a ruthless edge this week, while Allen has tended to need a few chances to win most of his frames. The way Williams will be winning many frames in 5 minutes or so should get to Allen, and I (hope) think that Williams will be able to get a fast start later today and run out an easy winner, so this bet needs anything as/more comfortable than a 13-8, to either player of course.
Verdict - Under 21.5 frames @ 2.1
Selby vs Ding:
Only a fool could back heavily against Selby the way he's played thus far, worthy favourite. But the way Ding managed to come through against Bingham winning the last 4 frames with his back against the wall suggests he's got the heart for the fight and Selby knows even if he is edging in front, he has to work hard for the win, something he hasn't done yet this week and hasn't done at all since the China final, when he ended up losing a tight one. Ding has to stay in touch throughout, no worse than 2 or 3 frame defecits realistically. Now we're at this stage of the tournament, with Ding finally breaking the R2 hurdle, I think he can relax a bit more and help this bet out. The line of 3.5 seems quite paultry when you consider Ding has made three centuries and Selby seven centuries so far but the quality should even increase now. Overs has to be the play here since I don't feel strongly enough to take either in the match market.
Verdict - Over 3.5 centuries @ 2.2
O'Sullivan vs Higgins:
Neither has hit top-gear yet but that doesn't mean a lot, both are incredible champions in this sport (6 world titles don't come for free) and both have the ability to raise their game when it matters. But i'm going to edge towards the slightly more in-form horse, I thought Higgins looked a bit lethargic against McLeod at times, his eyes seemed a bit heavy almost as if he didn't feel like he was enjoying the fight. On the other hand, Ronnie has a spring in his step and is close to his top level, which is the least he'll need to win if Higgins is at his best. O'Sullivan controlled the tempo well against Murphy, whenever he was handed a good chance he tended to take advantage quickly and will have to do the same against Higgins to avoid too many prolonged safety bouts. But I think he'll be the one who is pumped up for the fight just that 5% more which will be the difference.
Verdict - O'Sullivan to win @ 2