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Tuesday, 18 December, 2018

Close final looks a possibility between classy combatants

Hawk may not let favourite Higgins fly away from him

John Higgins is hoping to land a record fifth Welsh Open crown
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BBC2 Wales, Eurosport 1 & Quest, 1pm & 7pm, Sunday

It's a high-class line-up in the final of the Welsh Open with John Higgins taking on Barry Hawkins over the best of 17 frames in Cardiff.

Higgins, who is chasing a record fifth tournament triumph, is 2-5 to notch a 30th career title and narrow the gap on fellow greats Ronnie O'Sullivan and Stephen Hendry, while Hawkins is 9-4 to notch a place in the Ladbrokes Players Championship by lifting the trophy in the Welsh capital.

Something has to give, and while Hawkins has scored well this week after showing better form since off-table problems affected the first half of his campaign, Higgins has to be favourite simply by virtue of being one of the finest players the sport has ever seen.

However, despite Higgins' title claims, punters should think twice before piling in at fairly short prices. The pair's personal series is 8-7 in favour of Higgins, who has won 54 of the 102 frames they have contested.

And with Hawkins playing at or near his peak, there is even more reason to swerve a win bet on the market leader. Higgins is a master at putting space in between himself and inferior opponents, but Hawkins is a potential world champion himself and this final could be closely fought.

While there's a lot at stake, the Welsh Open is not a major and Higgins and Hawkins could put on a memorable show for those lucky enough to be in the auditorium.

The pair have been in fine century break-making form this week but while backing further big scores is an option, preference is for having an interest on a close match.

Hills go 19-20 that the match features at least 15 frames and that could be the way to go.

Over 14.5 frames
1pt 19-20 Hills

Already advised by Aaron Ashley
B Hawkins
1pt each-way 40-1 Betfred

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The pair's personal series is 8-7 in favour of Higgins
E.W. Terms
Sky bet