Gilbert should glide past Higginson in curtain-raiser
Tamworth potter can score heavily
Eurosport 1 & Quest
David Gilbert is performing better than his recent results suggest and the world number 18 should have little problem accounting for Andrew Higginson in his opening match of the China Open.
Gilbert has been a serial underachiever and is still to maximise his potential, but the 35-year-old is now taking his snooker seriously and has the game to go deep in the draw at Beijing this week.
The Tamworth cueman was unfortunate to bump into a determined Mark Allen in this month’s Gibraltar Open but he halted Ding Junhui in the previous round, mustering three 50-plus breaks, and if on song he should outscore Higginson.
Higginson beat Gilbert in qualification for this competition four years ago but the players have gone in opposite directions since then and the Widnes Warrior - a first-round casualty in three of his last four ranking events - isn't performing well enough to cause a shock.
Gilbert is generally an 8-13 chance to progress in the tournament but punters can squeeze some extra value by taking him to win by two frames or more.
Two-time China Open champion Ronnie O'Sullivan is best-priced 1-16 to beat Welshman Gareth Allen in his curtain-raiser.
D Gilbert -1.5 frames on handicap
1pt 11-10 Betfair