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Saturday, 17 November, 2018

Ricky Walden looks a good bet to reach second round

Ding Junhui can win in style

Chester potter Ricky Walden
1 of 1

Day three
BBC & Eurosport, from 10am Monday

World number one Mark Selby fell at the first hurdle in his title defence, losing 10-4 to Joe Perry, while market leader Ronnie O’Sullivan was given a scare by a fiery Stephen Maguire.

However, fellow-seeds Ding Junhui and Barry Hawkins should find a way to keep their Crucible hopes intact.

Barry Hawkins v Stuart Carrington 10am
The opening weekend of the Betfred World Championship has shown there’s no disadvantage in having come through three gruelling qualifiers and the heavy-scoring Stuart Carrington can keep close tabs on sixth seed Barry Hawkins.

Carrington’s game should be sharp after he had his Crucible credentials tested when seeing off Nigel Bond (10-9), Ben Woollaston (10-8) and Zhang Anda (10-8) in qualifiers last week and another marathon match could be on the cards against Sheffield specialist Hawkins.

The Hawk has made the semi-final in four of the last five seasons and it would be a huge surprise if he were to suffer a first-round exit, but Carrington is a talented player with the scoring prowess to lengthen the contest.

Hawkins made the final of the China Open on his most recent outing but his Crucible curtain-raiser is likely to bring him on and backing the match to feature at least 16 frames looks a solid play.

Carrington won seven frames in defeat to Liang Wenbo in the opening round 12 months ago and is appearing at his third World Championships in four seasons so is unlikely to be bogged down by the occasion.

Recommendation
Over 15.5 frames

2pts 8-11 Betfred

Ding Junhui v Xiao Guodong 2.30pm
Ding Junhui thumped Xiao Guodong 6-2 in the China Open earlier this month and their Crucible rematch should see another convincing victory for the third seed.

Ding made breaks of 138, 133, 90 and 83 in their last-32 showdown in Beijing and his performances look to have peaked for a tilt at Sheffield glory.

The 31-year-old is one of the greatest break-builders to grace the game and his heavy scoring should be too much for his younger compatriot, who made only two centuries in winning his three qualifiers.

Ding has won their most recent four meetings, three of them in decisive fashion, so expect a fast start from the Chinese sensation at a venue where he thrives.

Recommendation
Ding Junhui -1.5 frames

1pt 8-11 Betfred

Luca Brecel v Ricky Walden 7pm
Luca Brecel has struggled to find form for large parts of the season and the Belgian could be set for another early tournament exit against the seasoned Ricky Walden.

Brecel has won only two of his last 12 matches on the green baize and he has come up short in the first round of his two previous visits to Sheffield, which includes a 10-9 defeat to Marco Fu last season.

Injuries have played a big part in Walden’s tumble down the rankings but he’s extremely capable on his day and his performances in last week’s qualifiers suggest a return to peak form is imminent.

The Walnut made seven centuries in dismissing Andrew Higginson, Lee Walker and Joe Swail and could be a tough nut to crack for his Belgian challenger who, at 23, is gifted but too inconsistent to figure on the biggest stage.

Recommendation
R Walden

2pts 20-23 Betfair


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Brecel has won only two of his last 12 matches on the green baize and he has come up short in the first round of his two previous visits to Sheffield
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