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Sunday, 16 December, 2018

John Higgins has the power to tower over Trump

Allen and Ding Junhui face stern tests

Judd Trump is worth a bet in Shanghai
1 of 1

BBC & Eurosport, from 10am Tuesday

Allen v Wilson 10am
Kyren Wilson, who meets Mark Allen in a rematch of the Masters final, leads the Northern Irishman 6-5 on the head-to-heads and won their only Betfred World Championship clash in 2016.

However, Allen is still favourite to hold sway against his younger opponent after successfully contain­ing Wilson 10-7 at the Alexandra Palace in January.

Allen has modified his game and it's bringing him more success in major tournaments. This natural talent, a serial century breakmaker, has reined in a lot of his riskier shots and his game is becoming more like that of Mark Williams, who is often in calm control during his breakmaking.

If there is hope for Wilson, it could be that he did not impose himself fully on his Masters final. It was a case of too little, too late when he tried to mount a late fightback.

But he may learn from that experience and after outclassing Jamie Jones 13-5 in round two, it could pay to back the outsider to keep it close by going over on total frames.

Over 21.5 frames
1pt 7-10 Hills

Junhui v Hawkins 10am
It’s tough to pick a winner out of Ding Junhui and Barry Hawkins but bookmakers think Ding can make it third time lucky in Sheffield.

However, it may not be as easy for the Chinese number one as the odds imply. Hawkins showed against Lyu Haotian in the highest-quality match of the champion­ship that he can still post the big scores when required.

Lyu's scoring meant there were plenty of occasions when Hawkins had the opportunity to rest in his chair and punters need to figure out what will happen when the 20-year-old is replaced with the more experienced Ding.

The third seed is scoring well but has been posting fewer tons than normal. He could be making life easier for himself, but Ding is such an accomplished break­builder that the bigger tallies could still come more regularly.

Ding is portraying himself as a happier person and that should aid his cause. But while he's playing well, there's still a suspicion he may not be at his absolute peak and Hawkins, a fine match-player who has won his two Crucible clashes against Ding, has an opportunity to make it three out of three in the Chinese players' adopted city.

Hawkins is pretty good at keeping tabs on most top-class rivals and an interest in a long match could be the wisest play.

Over 21.5 frames
1pt 4-5 Hills

Higgins v Trump 2.30pm
The second quarter always looked like being a match between John Higgins and Judd Trump, but the pair have been poles apart in the way they have reached the last eight.

It has been serene, controlled progress for Higgins with wins over Thepchaiya Un-Nooh and Jack Lisowski. But Trump has been asked some searching questions by early victims Chris Wakelin and Ricky Walden.

It's not beyond imagination that Trump could step up on his efforts and rumble Higgins, but the Scot looks a player in almost total control of his cue and there appears to be a lot of self-belief about his game.

The fact he has won his last six clashes with Trump may not mean that much, but Higgins' 19-9 lead in their personal series matters.

The market, which favoured Trump at the outset, has seen a classic flip-flop. It's possible that Higgins could do to Trump what he did to his Grove teammate Lisowski and win by a street.

Trump is probably too savvy these days to let that happen, but it can still pay to follow the market and anyone who has not backed Higgins to win his quarter can have an interest on him to oust the fourth seed.

J Higgins
1pt 8-11 Betfair, Paddy Power

Already advised
J Higgins to win second quarter
2pts 15-8 Sky Bet

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Allen's game is becoming more like that of Mark Williams, who is often in calm control during his breakmaking
E.W. Terms
Sky bet