Welsh Open best bets and outright preview

The Welsh Open starts on Monday and Richard Mann has two picks on 22.1. and on 18.1. in its overall betting preview.

This year’s Welsh Open will be even more important than usual, with the last places still up for grabs in the hugely valuable Players Championship that follows immediately after this event.

After a poor season so far in ranked events – he won the Invitational Hong Kong Masters and Champion of Champions earlier in the campaign – Ronnie O’Sullivan needs to make it to the final in Wales to book his Players Championship ticket.

The quarter-finals might just be enough for another of the sport’s big hitters, Neil Robertson, after only reaching the last 16 of last week’s German Masters as a hot favorite for the title in Berlin.

Both will be desperate to qualify for such a prestigious event – Robertson will be the defending champion if he qualifies, while O’Sullivan won in 2018 and 2019 and finished runners-up in 2021 – but the fact of the matter is that neither has the current form and credentials to currently to justify a bet.

I feel like Robertson has been on the verge of putting it all together for a while, but it hasn’t happened for him or for O’Sullivan, who played well in his loss to Mark Williams at the Masters but didn’t assist until the World Grand Prix. Additionally, his more recent record at Home Nations events is not at all flashy.

Big guns have questions to answer

Neither of them speaks for the awards, and I still find it difficult to get a good impression of Judd Trump even though he’s fought hard to win champions and reach the final of the World Grand Prix the following week.

I still think he’s a little off his best and while that might be good enough to see him win again any time soon, I’m not willing to bet on it.

Mark Allen was the man to beat him in that World Grand Prix final and the Northern Irishman previously clinched the British Championship and Northern Ireland Open titles in his best season to date.

He keeps going despite his heavy workload and it’s hard to find too many holes in him, but the market has caught up now.

John Higgins is another man worth mentioning, despite being in the midst of a terrible campaign. There have been some positive signals from the experienced Scot in the Championship League in recent days where he has scored well and I can see he is doing well in Wales as he has so often in the past.

However, he has a difficult first match against Alexander Ursenbacher and with Martin Gould waiting for the winner I’m not very keen on getting involved.

Murphy was preparing for a deep run in Wales

Instead of this, SHAUN MUPRHY leads the roster at 22/1 after a string of good performances of late that suggest the former world champion is returning to his best form.

Murphy didn’t shoot in his semi-final with Trump at the World Grand Prix, but he beat three very solid opponents to get this far after compensating for Robertson in a great clash at the Masters a week earlier.

Before that, at the English Open, he lost in a crucial frame to Mark Selby, which he should have won – a loss made all the more painful when Selby won the tournament.

Throw in a round of 16 at the UK Championship and Murphy’s recent form has plenty to please, particularly the way he plays and the fact that he’s hyping his chances suggests he’s regained his confidence .

I don’t mind the early part of his draw because things obviously get more difficult after that, and Murphy’s strong record at the event, even as he goes all the way in 2020, is another big tick in his box.

With a good amount in his favour, I’m happy to risk my arm.

Williams is hard to ignore in his current form

Joining him is in the operational plan MARK WILLIAMSwho came mighty close to the readers of these pages with a 20/1 win at the Masters and a close loss in a memorable final.

However, many of the points I made about Williams being back on top form still stood and he continued to look superb as he enjoyed a deep run at the shoot out after also doing well on his way to the Quarterfinals of the World Grand had played price.

Williams has been particularly high in points lately and with all the other key components of his game working well, most notably his excellent long potting and flawless temperament, I can’t help but think it’s his turn before the end of the season becomes.

He was a winner last season – at the British Open – so I don’t think he’s lost that winning talent, as his win over O’Sullivan at the Masters attests.

You can put your clock on Williams right now and I can look back on some tough early games because he’s been getting out of the blocks fast this season and winning countless first frames with big breaks.

That’s crucial when the first rounds are best-of-seven frames and it seems significant that Williams has reached the quarterfinals of the second and third rounds of the three home nations tournaments played so far this season .

Add to that the fact that he has already won the Welsh Open twice, it seems certain the Welshman will be ready to make another bold bid at his home tournament.

Looking at his current form I suspect he could do just that and 14/1 seems fair enough.

Posted at 1440 GMT on 9/2/23

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