SNOOKER specialist George Weyham (@GWSnookerTips) previews Thursday's action from the 2020 Masters at Alexandra Palace.
Ali Carter vs John Higgins | Thursday 16th January 2020, 19:00 | BBC
Ali Carter really impressed me in the 1st Round against Mark Selby, and I think if he can continue that grain of solid form, has a very good chance of breaking down John Higgins as well.
Carter said in his interview after the win that he’s played some really good stuff this season, just hasn’t got the results to show for it. He said it was mainly down to his opponent playing exceptional against him. He has lost in five deciders too. Let’s not forget, he took UK conqueror Ding Junhui closer than anyone (lost 6-4) in their Last 32 tie in York.
He also added that he loves the big stage, so this one table set-up makes him play those extra percentages better than on an outside table in say qualifying with a man and his dog watching. He is a two-time former World championship finalist after all.
Carter’s arrogance came through a touch when he thinks he merits his place, even though he did miss out by one place until arch enemy Ronnie O’Sullivan gave him an unexpected Christmas present of £15k for turning up (he told Ronnie, he’s on for 20% commission if he wins, yeah right!)
That said, he made a case against Selby that he belongs at this level, showing real steel winning 6-4 from 4-3 down, having led 3-1. Lesser likes would of folded.
That win makes Carter a really dangerous animal – a self proclaimed free hit from now on and with £30k guaranteed, he must capitalise on a draw that has opened up for him (and others too).
I think he can get better, his scoring wasn’t completely up to scratch against the Jester. His all round game must stand tall on Thursday evening against the greatest match player of all time, John Higgins.
Higgins was his usual workmanlike against Barry Hawkins winning 6-1. No heroics, just got the job done. Hawkins was pretty woeful bar a century in the frame he won. This match with Carter is a step up.
Higgins has a healthy head-to-head record on the Essex man (leads 20-9) but Carter has won three of their last five meetings, two in fairly big events.
Carter is attempting to gate crash into his first Masters semi-final at his 12th attempt. Since winning it in 2006, Higgins has only made three semi-finals in the corresponding 13 years so it could be a perfect time for Carter to strike gold.
The 2/1 (Bet365) on offer on the Captain is too big for me. I think he should be no bigger than 7/4 here. Higgins’ consistency is incredibly applaudable but he throws in the odd match here and there where he plays like the proverbial drongo. The performance in the UK against Yan Bingtao springs to mind.
If you have a bit more balls than me, Carter is 3/1 -1.5 on the handicap so a win by any means bar in a decider. I’ll stick with the conventional win. Either way, get Carter onside.
Predicted score: Ali Carter to win 6-4.
Shaun Murphy v Joe Perry | Thursday 16th January 2020, 13:00 | BBC
The 1pm showdown between Shaun Murphy and Joe Perry doesn’t enlighten me too much.
Other upsets might of contributed to this but Murphy leapt from being a mid range outsider in the outrights pre event, to now second favourite for a second Masters title after his solid display against reigning Masters, World Champion and World number one, Judd Trump.
When a player wins without knocking in a real sizeable break and his opponent hit three centuries, it proves you're a very accomplished player, which Murphy is. He can only improve as the tournament goes on. If pinned against a wall on who I fancy for the title from now, it would be Murphy but he’s priced accordingly.
Perry won with a bit to spare against Ding which started all the upsets off. He made the final here in his last appearance at Ally Pally in 2017, but before that had only won one match in eight Masters events which might prove that event three years ago was a one off.
In meaningful affairs, Perry has only beaten Murphy once before (in seven) and Murphy has a tremendous ability of stepping up one or two more gears above Perry. Perry’s consistency will keep him in the game and I don’t think Murphy is in for a cakewalk victory but a victory all the same to march into fifth Masters semi-final.
Predicted score: Shaun Murphy to win 6-3
Ali Carter vs John Higgins – Ali Carter to win (2/1 Bet365)