IT'S semi-final time at The Crucible. Michael Day (@daisy8ball) has got three bets on the table for us.
So as the dust settles on the quarter finals, the Crucible Theatre will change to a one table set up in time for the last four. There’ll be much discussion and fall out about Ronnie O’Sullivan‘s elimination, but as I constantly reminded people, his head just didn’t seem right for this 17 day ‘marathon of the mind’.
One of my outright picks, Judd Trump, has negotiated his quarter and is now Even money favourite to lift the trophy come Bank Holiday Monday. Let’s take a look at the remaining quartet.
Shaun Murphy v Barry Hawkins | Thursday 13:05 | BBC
Out of the players left, only Shaun Murphy knows what it takes to go all the way. Albeit with some early nervy moments, Murphy stopped the fairytale run of qualifier Anthony McGill in the quarter finals 13-8.
None of his three matches thus far have really gone that close however, and he has made six centuries to date. Some of his long potting has been very good indeed.
Despite me opposing Barry Hawkins throughout this championship, he has proved me and a lot of people wrong by reaching the semi-finals for the third consecutive time.
He dramatically ousted Neil Robertson last night in a deciding frame thriller, a sequence of close results continued after a 10-9 in his opener, and then a 13-11 victory in the last 16. No one can question ‘The Hawks’ bottle and determination.
Head to head wise Murphy comfortably leads with a win ratio of 80%, and he rightfully starts the match as favourite, best priced at 4/9 (BetVictor). I believe he’ll reach his third World final, but it should be close.
Judd Trump v Stuart Bingham | Thursday 19:05 | BBC
Judd is doing me proud in this event, and I have emphasised the fact that I truly believe he is ready to become the World Champion. It would be the culmination of a very satisfying season.
He has effectively breezed through to this stage, destroying Ding Junhui 13-4 in the Quarter-Finals, with a display of frightening potting and punishing break building.
He's also tightened up and polished his safety aspects to the sport, a weakness which may have let him down in the past and cost him particular matches.
‘Ball run’ Bingham stood nose to nose with Ronnie O’Sullivan yesterday, and reaffirmed he has got the game to beat the best. I like the way he quietly goes about his business – he is very proficient in all areas.
Together they have met on 16 occasions, with Trump winning 10, losing five and drawing one. In past times I may have been slightly worried about his consistency and attitude after a great performance; whether he could maintain those high standards. But I think he's primed, and he will realise this could be the achievement of a life’s work over the next five days.
I expect it to be a Murphy-Trump final, purely because of the seasons they’ve had and their previous pedigree here. Skybet are doing an enhanced double of 11/10 on both of them winning and therefore making the final.
Another thought would be the fact we are now down to a one table environment, the dynamics of the whole arena have completely been altered.
Only Bingham has yet to play in these Crucible conditions, but as he is such an experienced campaigner I shouldn’t think it will phase him much. Technically, the organisers will have put a new cloth on the table and with less wear and tear they should be slightly more generous.
With a new playing surface, the sheen and slippy nature of the baize should allow balls to go in off the jaws easier, thus making big break building an even more viable possibility. There are a number of century markets out there to hopefully exploit this.
World Snooker Semi-Finals – Shaun Murphy and Judd Trump to make the final (11/10 Skybet)
Shaun Murphy v Barry Hawkins – Shaun Murphy Over 1.5 Centuries (4/6 Bet365)
Judd Trump v Stuart Bingham – Judd Trump Over 2.5 Centuries (5/4 Bwin)
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.