Judd Trump continued where he left off before the shutdown, with a commanding 9-4 win over John Higgins in the first-round of the Tour Championship on Sunday.
The Ace reeled off five frames in a row before Higgins could get a rack on the board and the Wizard of Wishaw never threatened to get back into the game.
The Bristol potter holds six ranking event titles and is the current World Champion. Playing in the Championship League event earlier this month seems to have sharpened Trump’s game and it looks like he will be difficult to stop this week.
Trump will play Stephen Maguire in Wednesday’s semi-final after the Scot beat Neil Robertson 9-5 in an incredible match on Saturday.
Maguire made six centuries in nine of his winning frames, four of them consecutively, which helped book his place in the next round.
Robertson commented on the size of the pockets and the table set-up after his defeat, but that phenomenal scoring from Maguire wasn’t replicated in the Trump v Higgins contest, so it remains to be seen what will happen in the remaining games.
Mark Selby and Yan Bingtao are the two cuemen looking to make it through to the last four in Milton Keynes today. It’s an interesting game and the match prices look on the mark, with the Leicester man the
5/11 favourite while Bingtao is available at
Selby has enjoyed tournament wins in the English Open and Scottish Open this season but has disappointed and suffered early exits along the way too.
The three-time World Champion is a class act and the best-of-17-frame format should suit the Jester. However, Bingtao is a talented young potter and cannot be easily dismissed.
Both players are high-quality break-builders and with table conditions potentially conducive to high-scoring backing over 2.5 centuries in the game at
5/7 could be the way to play.
Tuesday’s first-round contests sets-up another classy clash between good friends Mark Allen and Shaun Murphy.
Take Trump out of the equation and Murphy has been the standout performer on the tour this season. The Magician is the number two seed in this event thanks to wins in the Welsh Open and China Championship, reaching the final in the International Championship and semi-final runs in the Players Championship and German Masters.
That’s an impressive set of results for the 2005 World Champion and although you wouldn’t usually rush to oppose Allen, given he is a talented operator, there are major question marks over the Pistol’s form at the moment.
Excluding the short-format Championship League, the Pistol has won just five matches in the last seven events he has played.
That’s a pretty awful run of results for a class cueman and recent defeats to Lu Ning, Gerard Greene and Dominic Dale raise major doubts about his chances of beating Murphy.
Murphy is rated a
20/33 shot to beat Allen and it looks worth backing the Magician to put on a show at the Marshall Arena.
*All odds correct at the time of writing