Eight more players will be looking to advance to the second and third rounds of the World Snooker Championship this week, with some intriguing match-ups scheduled at The Crucible.
Mark Williams enters into his match against Liu Chuang as Betfred’s
overwhelming 1/12 favourite to book his place in the second round.
The 37-year-old Welsh wonder is a two-time World Champion and ranked fourth in the world. He should have far too much for the up-and-coming Chuang, who turned professional just five years ago. The 21-year-old is available at 6/1.
Ali Carter heads into his clash with Mark Davis having booked his place in the World Championship ahead of the China Open earlier this year.
Carter is currently ranked 17th in the world, one place higher than Davis, who has the edge in experience.
It promises to be an intriguing tie, though Carter is named at 8/15 as favourite to win the match, with Davis available at a relatively generous 11/8.
Elsewhere, tournament outsider David Gilbert will be out to exceed expectations when he squares off against Neil Robertson, with a place in the third round at stake.
Gilbert saw off Martin Gould 10-8 in the first round of the Championship, while Robertson comfortably beat 2007 Champion Ken Doherty 10-4.
And it is Robertson who is expected to advance at the expense of Gilbert and book his place in the third round.
Robertson is the current world number three and is priced at 1/7 to see off Gilbert’s challenge. His opponent, whose highest ever ranking is 43, is available at 9/2, and it is difficult to see him overcoming the odds.
Another spot in the third round is at stake when legendary duo John Higgins and Stephen Hendry go head to head.
Hendry out-classed Stuart Bingham in the first round, while Higgins had too much for Liang Wenbo.
“John Higgins and I have never played each other at the Crucible, which is a phenomenal stat,” said Henry.
“I can’t wait, I’m really looking forward to it. Last year he won it not at his best at any stage, but he just refuses to go down.”
Both players have bags of experience between them and are former number ones, and it is Higgins who is fancied to edge this clash of the titans.
‘The Wizard of Wishaw’ is priced at 1/3, while Hendry is available at 9/4.
“It’s been poor, it’s been very poor,” said Higgins, reflecting on his weak form ahead of the Championship.
“It’s not been what I would have expected or hoped for. I’ve not been putting the correct amount of effort back into the game, which you need to.
“To be a top level sportsman you need to put a lot of time and effort in, and I’ve not been doing that.”