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Tuesday, 11 December, 2018

The Rocket looks set to blast past Marco Fu

Experienced Barry Hawkins could be ready to swoop

Ronnie O'Sullivan has won back-to-back Masters titles
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First-round matches
1pm & 7pm Tuesday

R O'Sullivan v M Fu
BBC2 & Eurosport 2

Ronnie O'Sullivan bids to land his eighth Masters crown at Alexandra Palace and it's easy to see why the defending champion is a strong favourite to come through the first round against Marco Fu. 

These two potters have battled it out in north London twice in the last three years and on both occasions O'Sullivan has been victorious.

The Rocket, who beat the Hong Kong man 6-4 in the semi-finals last year, was also a comfortable 6-1 winner at the quarter-final stage in 2015 and a similar scoreline is envisaged this time. 

Fu is capable of causing O'Sullivan problems when at his best, but the Pride of Hong Kong has been someway off that this season. Fu was beaten by Tian Pengfei in the first-round of the English Open and that was followed by an opening defeat to Akani Songsermsawad in the International Championship.

Michael White took care of Fu in the Champion of Champions first round and the twice World Championship finalist only managed to win two matches at the Betway UK Championship before Lu Haotian dumped him out. 

O'Sullivan can be backed at 5-6 giving Fu a 2.5-frame start, and given that this season's English Open, Shanghai Masters and UK Championship winner has looked as good as ever, that makes plenty of appeal. 

R O'Sullivan -2.5 frames
2pts 10-11 Betfred

B Hawkins v K Wilson
BBCi & Eurosport 2 7pm

Kyren Wilson is on the up and Barry Hawkins hasn't enjoyed the best of runs this season but whether that's enough to make this match a nearly pick 'em affair is another question. 

It was only last year that the Hawk made the semi-finals of the Betfred World Championship and won the World Grand Prix so you hardly have to scroll through the record books to find some quality performances. 

Hawkins, who tends to save his best for the bigger events, is facing an opponent who has little experience of the Masters set-up having made just one previous visit, a first-round exit to Ding Junhui last year. 

The Hawk is rated a 5-6 shot and at that price it's worth backing the 2016 Masters runner-up to swoop.

B Hawkins
2pts 5-6 Betfair, Boylesports

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It was only last year that the Hawk made the semi-finals of the Betfred World Championship and won the World Grand Prix
E.W. Terms
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