Day Four in Sheffield and four more first round matches get underway, including the one featuring the favourite to win the Championship - last year’s runner-up Judd Trump.
Trump (1.10) faces Welshman Dominic Dale (6.50). Dale got close to Judd in the UK Championship in York and but for some horrendous run of the ball could easily have beaten the eventual champion.
Judd has a lot to live up to after his amazing run at the Crucible last year and doesn’t come into this in quite the form he was in 12 months ago, but I still think it would be a big shock if he were to lose to Dominic, whose best days are probably behind him.
Another player that many people fancy to do well is Ding Junhui (1.18). He faces another Welshman in Ryan Day (4.50) who he has beaten on all their previous 5 meetings, albeit only one of these being over a longer format.
It would be another massive shock if Ding were to slip up here and despite some of the seeded players already struggling, I can’t see him joining them in the losers lounge.
Perhaps a closer encounter is in store when Graeme Dott (1.36) takes on Joe Perry (3.00). Dott, a former champion and two times runner-up, has not been in great form recently but he is a totally different proposition here at the Crucible and his battling qualities should never be underestimated.
Perry has had a spell in the doldrums but is slowly finding the form that took him to the semi-finals here in 2008, a tournament in which he beat Dott 10-7 at this stage. I fancy this might be close and while I would side with Dott, the overs on the frames market appeals.
Finally, Mark Selby (1.25), the world number one, takes on dangerous qualifier Barry Hawkins (3.25) who beat Stephen Maguire at this stage last season.
Selby has not come into many people’s calculations as a possible winner here and I think that will suit him just fine. He seems to struggle sometimes with the weight of expectation and I think his ‘under the radar’ preparation will help him focus more on the job.
Best Bets: Dott v Perry over 16.5 frames at 1.87, Selby to beat Hawkins at 1.25, Ding (-3.5 frames) at 1.80