AFTER a winning start on Saturday, Michael Day (@daisy8ball) is hunting more profit on Sunday.
Barry Hawkins v Matthew Selt | Sunday 10:00 | BBC Red Button
It's been a frustrating season for Barry Hawkins, and he comes into the event with pressure on his shoulders to have to a good run. A classy player who only just over a year ago won the Players Tour Championship Finals – his third major title and biggest to date.
He also has an excellent recent record at the Crucible – a former finalist two years ago, and a semi-final berth last year (on both occasions losing to Ronnie O’Sullivan). Many would have thought this could be the season ‘The Hawk’ kicked on, but for some reason he seems to have gone into a mini slump.
A last four finish in the Wuxi Classic way back in June is his best 2014/15 major event performance. He was also dumped out first round 6-1 in the Masters and somehow inexplicably lost to Nigel Bond 6-5 in the second round of the UK Championship having been 5-0 up.
With the ranking based / money system on a rolling two year format, Hawkins has to defend his six figure prize money here from two years ago, or else face a dramatic drop down the merit list. More reason to worry perhaps?
But that’s not the biggest factor in his opening round clash that starts Sunday morning. His opponent is Matthew Selt, a qualifier making his second appearance at the ‘Mecca of Snooker’, the World Number 30 has a number of reasons to feel bullish about his chances.
Not only has he just won three consecutive matches to be here, he comes off the back of the best season of his career to date. He seems to have found a new wave of consistency in a year which has seen him win a group in Championship League snooker, and reach his first Pro final; the Lisbon Open back in December.
Selt has already picked up around £100,000 in prize money this season so far – that’s easily his most fruitful campaign ever by at least double. But the most prevalent sting in the tail here is maybe personal. The pair have met three times already this year – and the outsider has been victorious each time.
Selt won 4-2 in Portugal, 3-0 at Crondon Park, and most recently 4-0 in Wales during the World Grand Prix. That’s an aggregate score of 11-2! Like all sports, people and teams seem to have bogey players that haunt them, and it’s quite clear Selt is currently on top here.
Hawkins does have pedigree here though and is still the 4/7 match favourite, but with what has gone before, I’m none too sure about picking a winner. What I am pretty confident in saying is that it should be close.
Selt got a bit of a pasting on his debut in 2013 to Mark Selby, but he is twice the player now, and will be wanting to prove a point in front of the BBC cameras.
I’m backing Selt at 4/5 with Coral in the handicap market of plus 2.5 frames. Basically he needs to get eight frames for the bet to pay out.
Barry Hawkins v Matthew Selt – Matthew Selt +2.5 Frames (4/5 Coral)