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Wednesday, 23 January, 2019

Ding looks the ticket for English Open glory

Ding Junhui lines up a shot
1 of 1

Tournament preview
Eurosport 1, from 12.45pm Monday

World number two Ding Junhui remains ultra-selective about his participation this season, making his entry for this week's English Open noteworthy.

In the first leg of the Home Nations Series which also travels to Belfast, Glasgow and Cardiff, the 13-time ranking event winner is making his first appearance since landing the World Open last month and should be backed to follow up with success in Barnsley.

There is a £1,000,000 bonus on offer should any player scoop all four prizes and betting available, but it makes no appeal as a punting proposition.

Ding has the third quarter at his mercy and is justifiably a short price to come through unscathed.

The draw has been kind as the second quarter is a minefield for punters with Ronnie O'Sullivan, Judd Trump and John Higgins all lining up.

The Rocket has looked in decent nick this season, without producing the imperious levels he is capable of, and is passed over.

A shorter format over the first four rounds of play will no doubt produce upsets, but Ding is set to face inferior opposition early and can find his stride before facing more familiar faces.

Barry Hawkins tends to produce his best snooker in the second half of the season and is joined in the first quarter by the inconsistent Neil Robertson.

These two vulnerable fancied players may open the door for a bigger-priced rival in that section of the draw.

Defending champion Liang Wenbo is the top seed, but he may have to give way to exciting young talent Yan Bingtao should the duo meet in the third round as expected.

The 17-year-old Chinese potter remains one of the hottest prospects to have emerged in recent years and it's a matter of time before he goes deep into a tournament.

He can compete with anyone among the balls and developing the tactical nous needed to mix it with the big boys on the baize will come with experience.

He will be much shorter than this week's three-figure quotes for these tournaments once his game is refined, but punters should take a chance with him while the value is there.

Ding Junhui
2pts each-way 17-2 Betfred
Yan Bingtao
1pt each-way 175-1 Betfair
Ding Junhui to win third quarter
3pts 9-4 Coral, Ladbrokes

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Defending champion Liang Wenbo is the top seed, but he may have to give way to exciting young talent Yan Bingtao
E.W. Terms
Sky bet