THE Second Round gets underway at The Crucible on Thursday. Michael Day (@daisy8ball) is on hand to pick out the best bets.
Ding Junhui v John Higgins | Thursday – Saturday
I felt Ding Junhui displayed a maturity in his first round win against Mark Davis that he hasn’t previously shown before at the Crucible. Off the back of a terrible season and without a major final appearance to his name, he was staring down the barrel after falling 4-0 down in a torridly slow affair.
But to the Chinaman’s credit he dug deep and eventually came out 10-6. There were good signs for Ding fans and he looked quite comfortable for once in the tight melting pot surroundings.
Despite me not suggesting him as a potential champion at the start of the event, I had a quick glance at his outright price when he was still trailing after the first session. He was 18/1 – which now looks a bit stupid.
Junhui will now face another player who also put aside a poor recent Crucible record – John Higgins, who had a routine victory over Robert Milkins.
The Scottish four time world champion also had a sticky start to 2014/2015, which saw him on the cusp of falling out of the Top 16 elite for the first time in two decades.
But class is permanent, and Higgins’ return to form culminated in him winning the Welsh Open in February to announce himself back in the winners circle. Yet another player people have mentioned as a dark horse for this years crown.
I love the scenario of two players coming into a match both in good rhythm and in a positive state of mind. Davis and Milkins were possibly the toughest of the qualifiers to be paired with, so to have won well will have given them both some early focus.
I can see this match being really close throughout the three sessions of play. We're now playing a race to 13 frames.
Ding and Higgins have a very even head to head record. The Asian shades in terms of match wins (9-7 with two draws), whilst the Scot has won more frames (74-68).
Their biggest, and longest format, meeting was the 2009 UK Championship final which Ding won 10-8. He also shaded it in their latest encounter at the China Open quarter final stage only a few weeks ago 5-4.
It's evident then that games between the pair are generally very competitive. That’s why I’m a bit aghast with the 4/5 pricing by Coral for their to be Over 21.5 frames.
For the bet to come in we need a score line of 13-9 or closer. Basically both players need to get nine frames. Something will have gone wrong for either player if that threshold isn’t achieved.
Ding Junhui v John Higgins – Over 21.5 Frames (4/5 Coral)
Final Frame Refund
Back either of these players to win with Betfair and if they lose in the deciding frame your stake will be refunded as a free bet.