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Tuesday, 11 December, 2018

O'Sullivan and Selby to show steel early in Sheffield

Ali Carter and Graeme Dott set for drawn-out contest

Masters finalist Kyren Wilson has enjoyed a decent campaign
1 of 1

Day one
BBC and Eurosport, Saturday

Betfred World Championship market leaders Ronnie O'Sullivan and Mark Selby get the ball rolling on the opening day at the Crucible Theatre and both green-baize heavy­weights should find a way to survive potentially difficult outings.

Selby v Perry 10am
Reigning champion Mark Selby will need to be on top of his game to deny Joe Perry.

Cambridgeshire cueman Perry was in typically solid form when seeing off Ross Muir, Jimmy White and Mark Davis in the qualifiers last week, but this is obviously a step up in class for the Fen Tiger.

Selby thrashed Barry Hawkins in the recent China Open final and a repeat of that performance should see the Jester progressing.

M Selby -2.5 frames
1pt 4-6 BetBright, Betway, BoyleSports

Fu v Lyu Haotian 10am
Marco Fu is a vulnerable seed in the minds of many after missing three months with eye problems.

Lyu Haotian, whom the Hong Kong ace opens against, leads Fu 2-1 in their personal series so it's clear why many reckon the seed could be facing an early exit.

Tournament preview

Crucible specials

World Championship draw

But let’s not forget that Fu at his best is a potential winner of this tournament. His preparation is far from ideal having been off so long, but he's so talented that the chance of him turning up in decent nick is a possibility.

It may take the Happy Valley man a while to settle, though, and considering Lyu knocked in three tons in his qualifier against Fang Xiongman, the outsider can be chanced to post the first century.

Lyu Haotian first century break
1pt 9-5 Betfair, Paddy Power

K Wilson v Stevens 2.30pm
Matthew Stevens demolished 1997 champion Ken Doherty 10-2 in his final qualifier but while the Welshman may be playing well, he may need to find even more to deny Kyren Wilson.

Masters finalist Wilson has had a decent campaign without setting the world alight, but his cruising speed may be too much for seasoned campaigner Stevens.

K Wilson -1.5 frames
1pt 4-6 Hills

O'Sullivan v Maguire 2.30pm
A lot of folk are concerned for title favourite Ronnie O'Sullivan after he drew Stephen Maguire, but the Rocket should start with a victory if producing his normal game.

O'Sullivan has won their last four meetings. The scores in their last two were 6-4 but those came after the Essex man let the Scot back into it.

Conditions may have not been ideal in qualifying, but Maguire posted only one century break in three matches. He may not be at his absolute peak and O'Sullivan should be able to capitalise.

R O'Sullivan -2.5 frames
1pt 4-7 Hills

Carter v Dott 7pm
Ali Carter was found wanting in a 10-7 first-round defeat to Graeme Dott at the Crucible last year, but oddsmakers still have faith in the Captain coming through this time.

That could happen, but Dott is such a fighter that it's another tough one to call.

Hills go 1-2 about the match lasting for at least 16 frames and that could be the way to go.

Over 15.5 frames
1pt 1-2 Hills

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The cruising speed of Masters finalist Wilson may be too much for seasoned campaigner Stevens
E.W. Terms
Sky bet