Hard to see past the semi-final favourites



The cream generally rises to the top in snooker majors and it is heavily odds-on that this year’s UK Championship final will be contested by the pre-tournament favourites in either half of the draw.

One-sided betting for both semis

A double on Judd Trump and Neil Robertson to win today’s semi-finals pays a miserly 4/11. Far too short to even consider for this column, leaving two options. Either look for an upset or try a side bet.

Whilst the underdogs, Zhou Yuelong and Lu Ning, thoroughly deserve their places in the semis, going any further will be a huge ask.

Zhou presents a bigger threat

Zhou must be given a stronger chance, as his form over the past fortnight was not unpredictable. He’s rapidly coming of age and I expect the 22 year-old will be in the top-16 by the end of the season.

Based purely on his recent form, I could make a case for Zhou. However it is hard to forget that this is the biggest match of his life and in the previous biggest, 11 months ago in the European Masters final, he lost 9-0 to Robertson.

The Aussie was magnificent yesterday in beating Mark Selby and I don’t expect many mistakes. Zhou is entitled to progress on that January disaster but he’ll do well just to stay close.

Back Neil Robertson to win 6-2 1u @ 4/1

Even the side markets are one-sided – 4/6 about Robertson beating the -2.5 Frame Handicap, for example. That makes no appeal so, for a small interest, I’m going for 6-2 at 4/1.

Trump even stronger in latter stages

Similarly I can’t see Judd Trump taking too long to secure his place in the final. Again his opponent has been brilliant this week but there’s a vast gulf in class to overcome. And as we’ve seen for two years, Trump is an incredibly formidable opponent in the latter stages.

We saw that last night in a thrilling victory over Kyren Wilson. Trump now takes the world of beating, even by elite players like Robertson. Let alone a non-seed like Ning, who is entering unchartered territory tonight and is entitled to feel the heat.

Again the handicap odds are very skinny – 8/11 about Trump winning 6-2 or better. That is a fair reflection. On last night’s evidence, Judd may be peaking at just the right time. Here lets try him to win 6-0 or 6-1 via the -4.5 Frame Handicap.

Follow Paul on Twitter @paulmotty