Williams rates a cracking bet on first round form

There are four second round matches either starting or ongoing on Friday. Ronnie O’Sullivan is tied 4-4 with Anthony McGill while Neil Robertson leads Jack Lisowski 5-3. In both cases, I’m happy to run the bets advised yesterday.

Little to choose between Wilson and Hawkins

Kyren Wilson starts out against Barry Hawkins at 10am, in what looks a fantastic match. Both played really well in the first round and cut similar profiles. Class acts with bags of Crucible pedigree yet, to date, nearly men.

I agree with the market assessment that Wilson starts favourite on the basis that he’s slightly ahead overall in the game, but odds of 1.75/7 don’t offer any great value.

Back another marathon encounter

Interestingly Hawkins leads their head-to-head 8-6 but Wilson has the recent edge, winning four of the last six including twice in majors. Two years at this stage, he prevailed 13-11 in a wonderful match which produced nine century breaks.

Rather than trying to pick the winner, backing a similar outcome might be the way forward. Over 4.5 Centuries makes some appeal at 11/10 but at the same odds, Over 22.5 Frames is preferred.

Legends lock horns in repeat of 2018 final

Whilst that match has the makings of a Crucible classic, it plays second fiddle to the 40th meeting between John Higgins and Mark Williams – their first since the 2018 final. For the record, Higgins leads 21-18.

The Wizard of Wishaw was one of my pre-tournament picks but, in truth, if I could have my picks again I’d exchange that four unit bet for one on Williams at earlier odds of 75.074/1.

On the basis of his form in the first round, building on marked improvement during the build-up, he’s a contender. I’m normally first to dismiss Williams when out of form but at his fluent best, he’s still a very good match for anyone bar Trump and career nemesis O’Sullivan.

If both replicate their first round performances, the Welshman will win this in a canter. Whilst that is obviously far from certain, this feels a perfect scenario to back the outsider. Try 11/10 about Williams winning the +1.5 Frame Handicap, thus keeping a 13-12 defeat onside.

Follow Paul on Twitter @paulmotty