The second round continues on Saturday with a clash between two of the most dominant players over the last quarter of a century.
The all Scottish encounter between Stephen Hendry (3.30) and John Higgins (1.30) brings together two players who have amassed 11 world titles between them over the course of the last 21 years for the first time ever at the Crucible.
Hendry turned back the clock in Round 1 with a maximum break on his way to a demolition of 16th seed Stuart Bingham, while Higgins was totally the opposite, being let off the hook on numerous occasions before finally beating China’s Liang Wenbo in a decider 10-9.
I think this is an incredibly hard match to call, Hendry has become known in recent times for brilliant performances being followed by poor ones, but I get the feeling that he is up for this and on first round form there is only one winner and that’s Hendry. The first session is the key to this match and I think if Stephen gets a lead early on he will probably win, but the defending champion will be coming into this in the knowledge that he should probably already be out and that can give players a lift.
In the other match starting out we have the two players that I would say have caused the biggest shocks of the event so far, Ryan Day (1.50) who accounted for Ding Junhui and Cao Yupeng (2.50) who beat Mark Allen. Both played very well and are fairly evenly matched. Former top 8 player Day hasn’t had a great season so for him to find himself in this situation is a tonic for him, while Cao is a real surprise package and gave an assured display in his opener, defying the Crucible debut jitters.
I think Day is the better player of the two and should make his experience tell, his clearance to win against Ding was faultless and if he can maintain his composure in the same way here against a weaker opponent, he should make his way safely through to the Last 8.
Best Bet: Ryan Day -2.5 frames at 1.95